Peachy breakfast for Little Merchants | Intermediate Eater

By John Owen | Jun 19, 2014

When we moved to Edmonds, the Beacon was delivered weekly to our front door by a lad of 12 or 13. Now, like many residents, we pick up a copy at one of the sidewalk boxes.

But the Beacon management still encourages volunteers to create a route of readers who pay any amount they choose for the convenience.

Call them “Little Merchants.” That doesn’t necessarily describe their size. It was a common title in circulation departments, and I was reminded of this recently when I spotted the “Little Merchants” title of a book on display in the window of the Edmonds Book Store. It was written by Sandra Walker, a local writer who interviewed delivery boys, and girls, across the country, and accurately described their daily ordeals wrestling overstuffed canvas bags, rusty bicycle chains and waiting, salivating dogs slowing the Little Merchants in their rounds.

You want to know about Little Merchants? You’ve come to the right source. From the time I was big enough to heft a sack of newspapers, I was a Little Merchant.

I sold Great Falls Leader newspapers on a corner of Central Avenue. It was a “good corner” because my territory included two bars, including “The Lobby,” which displayed an original oil painting by Charley Russell behind the bar.

Legend has it that Russell spent many of his idle hours at the Lobby, and occasionally paid off his bar tabs with paintings of more modest size. That ended when the cowboy-artist took a bride. No more cheap art. The Russells' home and Charley’s art studio were located a couple of blocks from our residence in Great Falls.

Those were the war years, and when I hollered out the headline of the paper I was peddling, more often than not it described an Allied bombing raid over Germany,

Later in my youth I decided to deliver the morning paper, The Tribune. I was usually out the front door of our house by 5:30 in the morning. The hour was a little extreme. So was the weather, during Montana winters.

My route in those days included Skid Road, but I didn’t mind ducking into the hallways of one of the ancient apartment houses because this respite allowed me to briefly thaw my fingers.

I also found occasional refuge in one of the all-night, Skid Road bars and cafes, and the residents always had an encouraging word for the little kid with the big bag of papers.

I was never surprised by a necked lady-of-the-night popping out of a doorway, as one of the ex-paper boys has recounted in Sandra Walker’s book.

I didn’t suspect that my childhood chores prepared me for a career in newspapering. But it must have.

I was an editor in our college newspaper, worked on the Cut Bank Pioneer Press, then the Bismarck Tribune, the Yakima Herald, then (for 40 years) the Post-Intelligencer.

My wife and I now have two great-grandsons. It’s a little early to predict whether they will one day become Little Merchants

When our two granddaughters were born, I instructed them to refer to me as “Scoop.”

And that’s why, for two or three years, I was addressed at family gatherings as “Poop.”

Yup, that’s “P” as in Peach Pancakes…


Peach Pancakes


3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup unsifted flour

1/4 cup sugar

6 eggs

3 fresh peaches

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg


Blend the milk, flour and white sugar with an egg beater, keep pumping as you add the eggs, one at a time, then glump everything into a well-greased oven pan or dish and cook at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

Don’t just stand there, you have to peel and slice the peaches. When you have done that, melt the butter in a skillet, stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir-cook until the sugar has dissolved.

Plop in the peach slices, toss them around in the pan until they are hot and covered with sauce.

Remove that puffy thing from the oven, cut into four portions, and top with the peaches. You can have a second helping, but only if you delivered all your papers on time.


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