Former newsboy recalls Leader Times past
A former Leader Times newsboy and frequent school truant credits those on his Kittanning route with setting him on the right path.
Herman “Buss” Cravener, 68, who lives in Balcony Towers on South McKean Street, was about 11 years old when he started delivering papers for what was then called the Simpsons' Daily Leader-Times.
Dressed in denim, his white hair pulled back in a ponytail under a black Neil Young ball cap, Cravener recalled those early days in Kittanning with a twinkle in his eye.
“I was an incorrigible student — I ran the truant officer ragged,” he said.
Cravener was one of 10 children, born at home on Union Way near Queen Street. He was born with a type of hereditary vision impairment, but could see well enough to read large print and get by most of the time.
“I could pass by picking up cues and would try and get along without drawing attention to myself,” Cravener said.
And even though he was inquisitive and loved to check out the newspaper's sports' page, his intellectual interests throughout his childhood and teen years didn't extend to school work. His chronic truancy landed him in reform school, and he eventually dropped out of school at 16.
But during his years delivering papers in East Kittanning — a route that included the Armstrong County Courthouse — Cravener got to know the professionals who worked there and found a measure of support from them.
He recalled the murder trial of Robert Tally Davis during the summer of 1957, which riveted the town.
“I would grab 30 extra papers and unload them at the courthouse during the trial,” he said. “Everyone would come out of the courtroom and read the story.”
Prothonotary Fred McElhenny was among the courthouse employees who befriended the newspaper boy and encouraged Cravener to believe in himself despite his poor track record in school.
“He must have thought I had something of value,” Cravener said.
“Mr. McElhenny mentored me without really knowing it,” he said, adding that McElhenny helped get him a job at a local nursery after he quit working as a paperboy.
The encouragement Cravener received stuck with him.
And even though it took quite a few years, Cravener eventually headed back to the classroom.
He was married to his former wife and had two sons when he went through the General Education Development (GED) Program in Kittanning before attending Clarion University. He graduated in 1983, earning a bachelor of arts in history, a bachelor of science in communications and a master's degree in communications.
Cravener is retired after working in a variety of jobs, including a stint as a weatherman for a television station in Parksville, W.Va.
His sense of inquisitiveness has never left him, and he likes to spend time researching whatever piques his interest.
“I like how you start looking for one thing and wind up somewhere else,” he said — which says something about his outlook on life.
“You never know what's around the corner,” he said.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Thanksgiving meal offers Ford City students a chance to learn
- Ford City council OKs purchase of 2 patrol cars
- Stanley’s Bar & Grill in Ford City offers free Thanksgiving dinner
- Christmas train is an annual Armstrong holiday tradition
- Armstrong softball team sends off 41 Operation Christmas Child boxes
- Armstrong children can visit Santa in a quiet, calm atmosphere
- Kittanning Salvation Army kicks off holiday shoe drive
- Robbery nets stint in prison for Marion Center man
- Ford City executive sessions called into question
- Armstrong libraries offering adult coloring clubs
- Young violinist remains dedicated to his craft, enjoys visits home to Armstrong