News Stands/Pulp Magazines

by Bill Newman

Newark, like most major cities had newsstands located in various outdoor locations in the city. Traffic was the determining factor as to whether or not a location had a newsstand and how large it would be. The more traffic that passed a particular location the larger the stand would be and the more variety it would carry. In Newark the largest stands were located just where you would presume them to be, at the "Four Corners", Broad and Market Streets. 
Some newsstands had electric power to supply lights after dark and to run small heaters in the winter months. Other stands relied on nearby stores or streetlights for light. Heat was supplied by small stoves within the stand. In the winter months it was not a pleasant job to work in a newsstand. In the winter the "Newsie", as they were called was well bundled up and wore a pair of gloves with the fingers cut off at the first knuckle. This enabled him to handle the money and make change. Some "Newsies" wore an apron that they put the receipts in, others wore coin changers and some wore both. 
There were 2 to 4 Newark papers, depending on the year and between 2 and 5 New York papers. Add to that a few papers from nearby cities and a few, special papers such as finance and sports and the stand carried a large variety. Magazines were in such abundance that many of them were displayed hanging by clothes pins (remember them?) attached to cords running across the insides of the stand. The more expensive magazines were known as "glossies", the inexpensive ones were known as "pulps" There were so many "Pulps" that special mention is made of the below. 
Some stands carried cigarettes, candy and gum. This practice was frowned upon by nearby shops that might carry similar items. 
On a Saturday night the newsstands in the busier locations allocated as much space as they could, including space on the ground to the front and sides of the stand, to the N.Y. Daily News and the N.Y. Daily Mirror. These papers sold for .05 each and seemed to weigh a pound each. The Daily News always came with the comic section on the outside and so the first thing you saw when you picked up the Daily News was Dick Tracy. The Daily News comics were read by N.Y. Mayor La Guardia over the radio during a strike. Mayor La Guardia made mention of the fact that the policemen in Dick Tracy were always thin. On radio he asked, "Police Commissioner Valentine, why are New York policemen always so fat?" 
There were newsstands that in addition to the usual papers and magazines put an emphasis on a particular subject, though the one pictured above "Baseball Stuff" was the only one I know of that advertised it.

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Pulp Magazines 

A number of books have been written on the subject of pulp magazines, some are in public libraries and reference to some can be found on various web sites.Some sites sell the old magazines by price or at auction.

Pulp magazines were printed on a paper that was very inexpensive to produce as opposed to the glossies. Because of the low cost the selling price was low and the demand high.

There were pulps that featured stories about sports, war, science fiction, crime, Hollywood, the wild west and just about any subject one could think of. At one time there were several pulps that prefixed the title with the word "Spicy". These magazines were more expensive and the picture on the cover promised all sorts of sexual thrills. Censorship was much more severe in those days and so the editors instructions were followed "Promise them anything but give them nothing."

Some of the "pulps" led to hard cover books such as "The Maltese Falcon" and others led to radio show such as "The Shadow." For you trivia buffs, the first "Shadow" on radio was Orson Welles.

A friend of mine from school days was a pulp fan. I don't know how much he spent for his collection but he had an attic full. It seems like most of them were about flyers in World War 1, like "G-8 and His Battle Aces".

About a year ago I asked him about his collection, he said, "If I had save it, I wouldn't be working now."

I believe that there are still newsstands in some major cities but I am sure that there are no pulp magazines selling for 5 or 10¢.


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