“I’ve been a paperboy all my life,” says Jim Sturgeon. The very active long-time friend of The Knoxville Focus will be 89 years old on December 29. Focus reporter Mike Steely sat down with Sturgeon recently for a chat and found the man in good spirits and full of memories.
Tell us about your career in newspapers.
“I was in distribution for 35 years at the Knoxville News-Sentinel. I took over five routes and filled in for districts,” he said. “I’d tell the boys you’ve got to do it right!”
Seems Sturgeon couldn’t get newspapers out of his blood as seven years ago he began coming by The Focus office, picking up 50 or 60 papers and taking them to Knoxville Center Mall.
“I’d walk the halls with newspapers and people would come up to me and ask for a paper,” he said, explaining that when J.C. Penney’s stopped having a Focus rack he took up the slack. He’d also take The Knoxville Focus into stores there.
As so many stores inside the mall have closed, Sturgeon has developed a new route: to his neighbors around Oak Crest Road.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in Toledo, Ohio, and came with my family when my father moved us back to Knoxville. My father died when he was only 44 years old. I started delivering newspaper at 14 or 15 and never missed a day. There was nothing else for a kid to do back then. I went to Knoxville High School and the old soldiers there took us upstairs and we learned to fire a pistol. I’ve lived in Knoxville since I was a baby.
I went into the Army for three years and came out with two stripes.
I’m proud of my work at the News-Sentinel and was there for 35 years. I’m a good old-fashioned boy and never give anyone a hard time.
How is your family life going?
My wife, Jeanie, and I have been married 67 years and she hasn’t shot me yet. Our kids are grown and moved on but I have a sister who lives in Knoxville.
What do you do in your spare time?
It’s according to the weather. We go to the Black Oak Heights Baptist Church. She turned me into a Baptist from a Methodist.
What’s your favorite meal?
I’m a diabetic so it’s whatever my wife tells me. I’ve been a diabetic for 25 years. I’ve said I’m past 80 and I should have a little ice cream or cake now and then. (Jeanie said his favorite is chicken.)
Sturgeon said he misses the days when he took papers to the mall and he would enjoy coffee with his buddies and read and discuss what was in The Knoxville Focus that week.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a paperboy, all my life.
I’ll be back at The Focus next Monday to get papers if I’m not sick bad or dead.
Note from Mike Steely: Jim, from all of us who were paperboys in our youth, thank you for your memories and thank you for continuing to serve newspaper readers. The entire staff of The Knoxville Focus wish you and Jeanie a very Merry Christmas and, on December 29, a very happy and healthy 89th Birthday.