In late June of 2002, a dream of mine came true. The Weekly News published this wonderful insert featuring articles about the history of Lincoln Park and its surrounding towns. It was a project that I had spent six months, working very hard, to see completed.
The False Accusation
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In January of 2002, I was working as a reporter at The Weekly News. This was a regional weekly newspaper that had a big circulation of well over 50,000 homes. It was circulated throughout most of northern New Jersey.
At that time, I came up with the idea of creating a special booklet, to be inserted in an edition of The Weekly News, which would feature articles about the history of the area surrounding the famous Hook Mountain. Naturally, this included articles about the history of my old hometown, Lincoln Park.
My editor, Judy L., liked the idea but told me that she really did not have the time to devote to it. That if it were to come to completion, it all rested squarely upon my shoulders, all of it…from soup to nuts. I accepted Judy’s challenge. Within a month’s time, I brought in about a dozen articles to Judy’s office for her to read. Judy was a pleasant lady, but she did have a stern and serious side.
“Something’s missing, Richard!” Judy pointed out to me, in what was a rather stern voice.
“What’s that?” I asked my editor, who was sitting behind her desk, carefully perusing my articles.
“There’s no articles here about your Uncle Earl. The one who was killed in World War I!” Judy exclaimed to me.
“Well, I figured….that….I didn’t want people to think…..that…..” I nervously replied.
“To think what? That your uncle is a hero!” Judy replied.
“Well…Judy…I figured that….” I said.
“Well figure this. This project is on hold, till I get an article from you, about your Uncle Earl. Do we understand each other?” Judy declared, with a touch of a stern voice.
“I’ll have an article about my Uncle Earl at your desk in a day or two,” I said.
“I’m counting on it,” Judy replied.
Then Judy scanned the articles that I had given her. Her stern attitude softened.
“This is good, I like it. Now get me an article about your Uncle Earl,” Judy declared.
“Yes ma’am,” I replied.
Our meeting concluded. I walked out of my editor’s office. I had my heart and mind set on writing a tribute article about my late great uncle, Earl Mabey, who was killed in action in World War I, in France.
What I was originally concerned about was being accused of nepotism. I was worried that some of the people of my old hometown would accuse me of creating the historical booklet just to promote my late great, Uncle Earl.
Well, that very night I wrote my tribute article about my Great Uncle Earl. I included a picture of Earl standing by his Indian motorcycle, which was taken just before he left Lincoln Park to join the United States Army.
Long story short, my editor liked the article that I wrote about Uncle Earl. She liked it a lot. Now began the hard work of rewriting my other articles, editing the other articles that were sent in by other neighboring town’s historical societies, and doing the layout on this special booklet.
It was a lot of work! I won’t bore you with the details. But, suffice it to say that there were plenty of roadblocks and it wasn’t easy. But, on June 27th of 2002, the Weekly News came out with this wonderful pull-out booklet that featured articles on the history of the Hook Mountain Region.
Well, the next day after work, I remember that I went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread and some other things. I bumped into an old friend. I use the word “friend” loosely. He hounded me about the article, about my hero uncle, to the end of the world. He wasn’t kind at all.
That Sunday, at the church tea and coffee fellowship that followed the church service, someone else accused me of nepotism. She told me that all I was interested in was promoting my late uncle as a war hero.
And on and on it went. I was very hurt. I felt so betrayed. I thought that I was doing a good thing, by creating this historical booklet, for the people of my hometown to learn more about their wonderful history. Instead of getting some thank you’s, all I got was grief. It hurt me deeply.
It was at that point in time that I had this feeling in my heart that maybe it was time to leave Lincoln Park, maybe it was time to dust off my sandals and move on to greener pasture.
In 2005, I said farewell to my old hometown of Lincoln Park. It was a sad day for me. But, I knew, deep in my heart, it was time to move on. I got a job as a writer and reporter for a big daily newspaper in Central Pennsylvania. I was given a great deal of artistic freedom by my new editor.
I love the people of Lincoln Park. I truly do. But, alas, there comes a time when it’s just plain wise to raise your sails and set forth to new lands. But, truly, I still love the people of my old hometown, despite the criticisms that I endured from many of them.
Peace and harmony,