My tribute to Steve Avallone, was a classic example of the type of article that I loved to write for the small town weekly.
That Homesick Feeling
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In a few weeks, I’ll turn 63. There is a certain homesick feeling that resides in my heart. What I miss mostly, is writing for a small town weekly newspaper. I don’t miss writing for the public relations department of a big corporation nor writing copy for an ad agency. I don’t miss those jobs at all. But, I truly miss writing for the small town weekly newspaper. There is something very special about small town weekly newspapers.
Looking back at the many small town and regional weekly newspapers that I wrote for, I was dearly blessed to be given quite a bit of artistic freedom by my editors.
I did write for one of those big daily newspapers for a while. It was in the early 1980’s. I really don’t like the basic philosophy of the big dailies. They tend to stick their nose up at the small story. They don’t see the significance in writing about the unsung heroes of the American small town. They want the firecrackers and the explosive news. They want to print the news that sizzles. The small town weekly publishes the story of little Johnny Smith hitting the winning run at the local Little League baseball game. It’s a world of difference.
There is something very special about the office of a small town weekly newspaper.
There is something very special about a small town weekly newspaper office. There ain’t no pretensions there. And ain’t nobody that stands on ceremony. In a small town newspaper office, there are times when you roll up your sleeves and actually get ink in between your fingernails. There is that certain excitement of racing against the clock to meet a deadline. There is a certain fulfillment in seeing the latest edition roll off the printing press.
For a couple of years, in the late 1980’s, I published the Lincoln Park Journal.
There is something to be said about the front page of the small town weekly. It’s possible to have a quaint and charming story, say of the annual Memorial Day Parade, on one side of the front page. Then on the other side of the front page, have breaking news about plans to build a new municipal building in town. And then, just to put the whip cream on top of the jello, have a news story about the plan for even more condominiums to be built in town. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, that compares to the breath and heart of the small town weekly!
There is such a feeling of achievement, that comes each and every week, when you place copies of the small town weekly on the shelves of the news stands in all the delis, sweet shops and drug stores in town.
I used to circulate the old Lincoln Park Journal on Saturday mornings, early Saturday mornings. It was very fulfilling to place each stack of newspapers on the newspaper racks of all the delis, sweet shops and drug stores in town. I remember that I used to drop my first batch of newspapers off at the Lincoln Park Sweet Shop, very early in the morning. Then, when I completed my circulation route, I would go back to Lincoln Park’s famous sweet shop and have a grilled cheese with a cup of hot tea. It was such a thrill to see someone, in the sweet shop, sitting at the counter eating their lunch and reading the Lincoln Park Journal!
I live in Central Florida these days. When I first came here in 2008, there were two regional weekly newspapers in the area. I had the honor to write for both newspapers, at different times. Sadly, now both of these weekly newspapers are out of business. It really is very sad, because a lot of good news and feature stories go untold, without having a little weekly newspaper in your town or area.
From reporting about Mr. Jack Floyd’s retirement from having served over 25 years as an Assistant Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170, to reporting the details of a major auto accident; the old Lincoln Park Journal served a real purpose.
Often times, I wonder if it is possible to start a small town weekly newspaper. I really do. I’m fully aware that I am no longer a young man. I don’t have the same energy that I once had. But, still, a certain love and enthusiasm for writing and publishing a small town weekly newspaper still abides in my heart. At times, it’s a thankless job. But there truly is a certain fulfillment in publishing a small town weekly.