NORMAN — Ascending from paper boy to manager to advertising salesman, publisher and owner of The Norman Transcript, Harold R. Belknap’s strong work ethic and passion for the news is still associated with the paper today.
Belknap was just a youth in 1916 when a carrier brought the family’s newspaper to his porch and asked him if he’d like to take over the route. As one of the paper’s four in-town carriers (with 67 customers in the area west of the railroad tracks and south of Symmes Street), he earned $1.25 per week.
“It is hard to imagine everything west of Elm and south of Boyd as open farmland, but that was the way it was. The Transcript had no set press time. Papers were often delivered after dark, and many a night I was afraid to walk down past Bennie Owens’ house with all the dogs running loose,” Belknap wrote about his early experience with the newspaper.
“His father was somewhat of a ne’er-do-well. So I think that may be why my grandfather had such an amazing work ethic,” said Dr. Jamie Belknap, Harold’s granddaughter and Norman dentist.
Upon the death of publisher R.H. Parham, Belknap became the newspaper’s business manager. In 1947, he was named associate publisher and became the newspaper’s publisher upon the death of Fred Tarman.
Belknap’s grandson, Hal Belknap, Norman Regional Health System desktop technician, also remembers his grandfather’s dedication to The Norman Transcript.
“One of the stories I’ve heard is the time an employee called to say they couldn’t make it to work due to the snow storm, so he offered to drive out there and pick them up — in the storm,” Hal said. “We always laugh about that. Can you imagine anyone doing that today?”