Charles "Chucky" (Writer - 2008)
Contact: R. Lipprandt
Surname: Blanchard, Palmer, Young
----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark Co., WI), Wednesday, November 21, 2008, page 6, By Ben Schultz
Colby native comes back to deliver short stories
By Ben Schultz
Jobs may come and go for young people, but sometimes they’re worth heading back home for. Just ask Charles "Chucky" Blanchard who walked his paper route in Colby Saturday, Nov. 15.
Blanchard, who is 63 years old and has battled Parkinson’s disease, headed out to the streets with about 200 flyers to promote his book, "Tales of a Paperboy," which he read from and signed Tuesday evening at Colby Public Library.
He followed his original paper route he had in Oct. 1956. Fifty-two years ago he took over the route from Louie Young and started delivering the Marshfield News-Herald to 42 customers. He stayed at the route until 1963 and had 168 customers by the time he left it.
Blanchard was born in Colby in 1945 to George and Aurelia Blanchard. He went to St. Mary’s School and then Colby High School.
Along the way he tried his hand at everything from working at the Colby Cheese Factory to painting houses and most things in between. "Growing up I worked every job in town," he said. But when he settled on the paper route he said he found something he really enjoyed. He said it was the best job he ever had, mainly because he got to meet the entire town. "I knew everybody in town, the kids’ names and the dog’s name," he said.
The paperboy grew up, though, and soon headed out. Blanchard said he turned 18 and just got on a bus. He had $441 saved and was off to Minneapolis.
"One way or another I was going," he said.
He ended up attending the University of Minnesota but couldn’t stay very long. When fall semester came around he was out of money. Being the Vietnam era, he was soon drafted. He didn’t wind up in Southeast Asia but instead served in Germany. After two years he was discharged.
From there he worked as a mechanic, bartender, dog trainer and credit manager for General Motors. While working here he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and fired for what he called "trumped up charges." Though his name was cleared with the help of a labor attorney, he was still out of a job.
That double dose of misfortune did actually have a happy consequence. As he was being treated for Parkinson’s he was seeing a physical therapist, Patricia Palmer. During therapy sessions he would tell her stories of the paper route and caught her attention. "She said ‘how many books have you written?’" Blanchard recalled. He was surprised and honored to hear that. At Palmer’s urging he started to write down his stories.
The first one was called "The Haircut" and that soon led to 55 more. Twenty of those stories appear in "Tales of a Paperboy," which was published July 1. All 20 of them go back to the city in the 1950s and ’60s. He recalls how there were two hardware stores, some clothing stores, jewelers as well as seven taverns.
"Colby was a lot different then," he said. "Now, a lot of these towns seem like they’re bedroom communities."
One of his favorite stories is when Security State Bank was robbed and the whole town was surprised to see federal agents wandering around. They were asking if people had seen anything unusual.
"My grandpa said to the agents, ‘the only thing unusual I’ve seen is you two walking around in your new suits,’" Blanchard recalled with a chuckle.
He now lives in Roseville, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, with his wife, Joan. He has a title picked out for his second book, ‘The Colby Kid on His Own." It is a series of short stories that covers the time after he left Colby, Wis. He has a third book in mind but it isn’t quite ready.
"I’m still working on it," he said.
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