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Jack Liedle and Pearl Harbor edition of Billings Gazette

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Jack Liedle remembers a Gazette circulation manager rounding up newsboys to hustle an extra edition.

On a Sunday in December, Jack Liedle was playing touch football in South Park when the game was interrupted by The Gazette's circulation manager.

He wanted three of Liedle's friends, who were newsboys, to hustle an extra edition of the day's paper.

It was Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Liedle was too young then to sell papers, but he joined the street sellers the following spring.

To join them, he had to pass an initiation by the veteran newsboys. The hazing culminated with two newsboys dragging him by his ankles down the second-floor fire escape steps behind the old Gazette building.

“They would pull you down on the seat of your pants, down those iron stairs,” Liedle said.

His unofficial route started at the American Café along Montana Avenue and continue to The Mint and Rainbow bars and other businesses in between. From there, he would cross the street to the railroad café, then head for the two bus depots, stopping at the Lobby Bar along the way.

Typically, he sold 20 papers, making a profit of 2 cents on each paper, plus the occasional tip.

“I think I learned how to deal with people, to treat them like equals,” Liedle said.

It didn't take him long to realize that bar patrons could be good tippers.

“I can remember to this day going in the Mint Bar and this one feller, he was pretty pie-eyed,” Liedle said.

The man didn't want a paper, but gave Liedle a dollar tip.

With his 2-cent-a paper profit, Liedle would occasionally splurge for a 15-cent root beer milkshake at the Fox Ice Cream factory on 29th Street.

Far more often, he would save his money to buy 10-cent saving stamps, which he pasted into a small book. In 10 years, the filled books could be redeemed for $25. With earnings from his paper route, he filled seven books.

Liedle relinquished his newsboy status when his parents left Billings in 1943 to work at the shipyards in Vancouver, Wash.

His brief stint as a newsboy taught him one important lesson.

“It taught me, if you had the job, you had the responsibility,” he said.

Liedle was drafted during the Korean War. He married his wife, Barbara, in 1953 and had two children when he started college under the GI Bill.

By the time he graduated with a degree in geology, “unemployed geologists were a dime a dozen,” so he worked as a laborer for eight months to keep food on the table.

Later, he was hired as a geologist by the Montana Highway Department, a job he kept for 32 years.

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