Wednesday, September 05, 2012


My first job as a writer was with The Community News. It was in 1973 and I’d just gotten out of the Army.  
A lot of responsible soldiers saved money so that when they were released from the military, back into the civilian population, they’d have some money to get them through. I wasn’t one of those responsible soldiers. 
So when I got home, I moved back in with my parents and started looking for a job.
Fortunately my friend Dale Short was the editor of The Community News and he suggested I apply for a staff writer job. I did and the company hired me the same day on Dale’s recommendation.
I sat down at my desk which was by the window. A fern with leaves dry enough to smoke, sat on the window sill. Dale wasn’t big on horticulture.
On my desk was a manual Royal typewriter that was as big as a microwave. 
The beast had been used so much, that the Q and the C were totally filled in with years of black ink packed into the open space of the characters, by cub reporters writing about football, obits, and family reunions.
I loved the feel of that typewriter, and the sound of the clack, clack, clack, ding as I labored away on my stories.
Tonight as I started writing this post, I chose to compose the story in an Apple program called Pages. 
Pages has a font called American Typewriter. I selected the font, and selected Full Screen, which removed all distractions from my computer screen.
Just looking at the font brought back a rush of memories from those few years I spent writing for The Community News.
I know in the scheme of things, the work I did there didn’t further the cause of World Peace or True Happiness, but it felt right. I felt like I was doing something important.
No other job I’d had before, or no job since compared to the feeling of accomplishment I felt.
So it’s no mystery that I’m a freelance writer now. I knew when I left The Community News on January 15, 1976 that one day I’d write again.


  1. Yes it does feel funny today. I still have my underwood typewriters and even the super 8 movie projector. I still have my Moms old wood floor polisher.
    I look at these things and think man, have times changed. I remember how hard it was to change typing ribbons and mistakes in those days and how important it was to make copies with clean copy papers. Everything went through scrutiny because things had to be perfect. No spelling mistakes, right kind of indentation, spacing.... man. And today we have managers who don't know proper sentence structure or spelling even with machines which easily correct mistakes and even have spell checks.Today we have difft lingo between young people even I don't I remember learning fortran and the machines sending messages via little holes on a paper tape.I think yup, I am spoiled. I love my new computer toy and can't imagine living without it today.How did people manage? It was harder in some ways but in another way, excellence was appreciated and made you feel good about yourself.

  2. 1973? I was in junior high. Maxi skirts were in. I wondered if a boy would ever like me. Thanks for sharing your beginnings in the world of journalism.


  3. Sounds like my brother who came home as a news reporter for the army and got a job at the Chaska Herald...glad it was so easy for you to get back into the job world after serving.

  4. Too true - if you are a writer, you just can't help but write.

    Now whether anyone actually reads it, that is another matter.

    But you just keep on writing.
    Fun memories, Rick.

  5. It's funny how our "early selves" turn out to be our "real selves" years later. I was on the newspaper staff of my junior high but that's the end of my writing career! (until blogging showed up!)


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