Answer Man: Why is There an Old LA Times Newsbox at the Post Office?

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo- The News-Leader’s Answer Man, Steve Pokin joins us with a question about an old newsbox at the Post Office downtown.

Tell us about it, Steve,

Well, enjoy this relic as long as you can because the minute I asked about it the Post Office started to take steps to remove it.

I did not ask that it be removed; in my brief acquaintance with this newsbox, I have grown rather fond of it.

It hearkens to better days for print newspapers and a time when I was young and my hair was darker and my employers provided me with a free subscription to the paper.

It hearkens to when the price of one of the nation’s premier newspapers was 75 cents a copy.

Sorry, make that $1 a copy – as you can see by the sticker in the photo that doesn’t quite cover where it says 75 cents.

Perhaps I should not be surprised that the Post Office – since my inquiry – is trying to contact the LA Times to send the vending machine off to Newsbox Heaven.

I first called Pam Smith, the administrative assistant to the Springfield postmaster, and then I called Stacy St. John, the official spokeswoman for the Springfield Post Office. Her office is in Kansas City.

St. John emailed me:

“I was able to connect with Pam (Smith) yesterday. She has contact information for the LA Times and one of the other boxes that are abandoned. She is attempting to contact them and ask them to remove their property. If she does not receive a response we will likely determine they have been abandoned and remove them.  As far as how long they have been there, no one recalls when the boxes were placed there.”

Apparently, the fate of the LA Times newsbox is chained to the nearby CountrySingles.com newsbox.

Literally. The vending boxes are chained together. And both show their age.

The LA Times box appears to be rusting into the ground. Its base is surrounded by corroded flakes of metal.

The LA Times box also is empty. I suspect it’s been empty for years.

I guess I’ll never know how the O.J. trial ended.

Now, Jeff, with all that said – it’s time for this good ole (news)boy to get to work.

The Los Angeles Times newsbox cannot have been outside the Post Office prior to 1987. That’s because the Post Office opened in November of 1987.

The single-copy price of the Los Angeles Times went from 50 cents to 75 cents in 2009.  It was next hiked – to $1 – in 2011.

Ergo, my guess is that the newsbox was placed outside the Post Office between 2009 and 2011.

I do not know when it stopped receiving daily LA Times newspapers.

On the back of the Los Angeles Times newsbox is the manufacturer’s name and a serial number.

The box was made by a company called Sho-Rack, which was based in Shiner, Texas, and went out of business in 2012 as the sale of print papers waned.

In its heyday, Sho-Rack manufactured over 1 million newsboxes for Gannett, which owns the News-Leader, when the company launched the first national newspaper, USA today.

When USA started in 1982, the company’s production went from 1,000 newsboxes a week to 3,000 a week.

For more on this Answer Man story click here.
 

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