Former paper boy takes route back home

Published 11:18 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

For some reason that he really didn’t understand, instead of pointing his car toward Athens and home, Charles Lietch turned south from Montgomery and headed for Troy.

Sometimes folks just want to go back to places they have long since left and almost forgotten.

“Sixty-five years, that’s how long it’s been,” said Lietch as he stood in The Messenger office. “We came here in 1944. I was 12 years old and, not knowing anybody much and needing to make a little money, I got a job delivering newspapers for The Troy Messenger.”

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And, it was that job that brought him back to Troy this week.

“I wanted to see what the newspaper is like today and the town, too,” Lietch said. “I started back to Athens and then I turned around. For some reason, I just wanted to come back.”

Leitch delivered papers on Walnut, College and Murphree streets for four dollars a week, which back then, put a good size jingle in a young boy’s pocket.

But Leitch had a little Tom Sawyer in him and devised a plan whereby he would do the collecting and a friend would do the delivering.

“I might shouldn’t tell that,” he said, laughing. “But we each made two dollars a week and were both satisfied.”

Leitch said The Troy Messenger was delivered six days a week and he had a few more than a hundred houses on his route.

“Back then The Troy Messenger office was on the square on Three Notch Street – I guess South Three Notch,” he said. “My dad, J.D. Leitch operated the V.J. Elmore Store. We came here from Birmingham and I really liked it here but my daddy was moved to Athens in 1947, so we were here for only a short while.”

Leitch worked 36 years with the federal government as a U.S. Army auditor. A year after he retired, he found himself needing something constructive to fill his days. He went to work for an audit agency and retired from that.

When he was 66 years old, Leitch returned to the passion of his youth – delivering papers.

“I went to work delivering the American Classified in the Athens area,” he said. “At one time, my route was 300 miles. Of course, it was only once a week so that wasn’t too bad a drive.”

Lietch spent some time visiting with The Messenger staff and, once again, getting printers ink on his hands and it was a rather good feeling.

“It’s been good to come back and see how things have changed,” he said. “I have good memories of The Troy Messenger and Troy. I’m glad I took the time to come back before going back home. It was good to be here and good to remember.”