Algren’s Christmas

In the December 4, 1949 Chicago Sunday Tribune, Nelson Algren remembered his childhood Christmases selling the Saturday Evening Blade and swindling customers in a story named Merry Christmas Mr. Mark (collected in The Last Carousel):

Around Christmastime the paper guys had cards printed and sold them to us little paper guys for a nickel apiece. They read something like this:

Christmas comes but once a year
When it comes it brings good cheer
So open your heart without a tear
And remember the newsie standing here.

That got them, every time. Especially if there was a light fall of snow. And the swindle in the card routine was this: After he’d paid for the verse and would be thinking he owned it, you’d have to tell him no, it was your only card, you just wanted him to see the sentiment on it, it had cost you a nickel, so please mister could you have it back?

(via Destinyland via BoingBoing)

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