Mae Pitman has delivered The Commercial Dispatch since 1972.
This country has gone through seven presidents and the advent of the Internet since that morning 43 years ago when she first turned her car off of College Street heading up a little alleyway to pick up a bundle of newspapers at our backdoor and take them out into the world. She’s always had the same route, too. It is 140 miles long, traverses both paved and dirt roads and takes Pitman into the west Alabama towns of Pickensville, Carrollton and Aliceville.
Today, she will take that route and deliver The Dispatch to 55 households. Then, after sliding this edition of the paper into the last roadside tube along her route about 4 p.m., she will call it quits.
She’s 65 now. She’s ready for her life’s next chapter.
Pitman said she will miss the people along her route more than anything.
“They’re not customers,” she said. “They’re family.”
Of the newspaper’s 40 or so carriers, she is one of the longest-tenured.
There was a time decades and decades ago when paperboys, like milkmen, were part of our country’s landscape. They were as American as apple pie. That time, of course, has passed.
Today, more than 80 percent of the country’s newspaper carriers are adults, according to Lindsey Loving, communications director with the Newspaper Association of America. Few of them are likely as steady as Pitman.
A red-haired woman with spunk, she has been a fixture each morning in the newspaper’s hallways, where she tirelessly asked the staff to support her grandchildren’s fundraising efforts and talked big about the University of Alabama’s football team. Rain or shine, good news or bad, “Miss Mae,” as the staff knows her, could be counted on to speak to everyone she saw.
She will be missed at The Dispatch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.