Part of the Vanishing Worlds virtual gallery.
The Last of the Hawks
A photo Essay by Onnie Strother
“These are hardworking people, good people. They are out here working to get the news out. Their story needs to be told” … Jim the manager of Pro Sales, a Star Ledger Newspaper distributer.
They call themselves Hawkers or Hawks like the sharp wind that blows down Central Ave. Once they could sell enough papers to live for a week, now it’s hard to make enough for a day. Many have other jobs and sell papers to supplement their income. Some have been laid off without benefits, others work for extra money to pay for medication or for transportation. Most have families that they help to support. The men and women who “Hawk” newspapers on the street corners may be the the last of a dying bread but as Raheem of South Orange Ave says, “As long as they keep printing them we will be here to sell them”. They all believe that is better to earn a dollar than to ask for one.
Onnie Strother is a multimedia artist who was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He likes to work in series that often tell a story. He believes that everyone has a story and that the best ones are the ones least told.
Additional remarks by the artist: Each photo has a title that refers to the vendor’s location or the headline on the newspaper that they are selling.
I have titled some of the pictures with the location of the vendor so that people familiar with the city of Newark can connect with the person selling the newspaper. I hope that the viewer will understand the difficulties of selling papers in areas that may be isolated or infrequently traveled by pedestrians. The Hawkers are community members so viewers may recognize someone who they know. Commuters may recognize streets that they pass every day. The headlines on the papers may call to mind moments in the lives of the viewers. The titles are all about making connections. The individuals in each portrait has a story but I feel that their reasons for working on Sunday, (a traditional rest day for most American workers) are their own. The world of the daily newspaper is a vanishing one but the need to earn our daily bread is not. I hope that when we see people cleaning windshields, selling newspapers, cold water, flowers or any other low cost items by the side road, we consider that these are people who would rather work for a dollar than ask for one.