Sandusky Register - 1979-1983

I initially went to Sandusky on a three-month internship, which was my last academic requirement to complete my degree, and I still have the weekly internship reports I sent back to my professors. When the internship period was over, the Register hired me as a regular staffer.

Sandusky is on Lake Erie between Cleveland and Toledo, and it is a beautiful place to be. Sandusky's downtown area is on a little hill right on the edge of the water. I had gone there several times as a child because the Cedar Point amusement park is built on a sand jette that sticks a few miles out into the lake.

The Sandusky Register is in the middle of the downtown in beautiful and well-preserved building built in the 1920s for some previous newspaper in an age when several newspapers could thrive in even small towns. The entrance has the feel of a bank lobby and the massive staircase leads up to the second floor where, if memory serves, the newsroom was located.

There were perhaps a dozen people on the staff. The editor was Jim Brown, a tall plump man in his 30s with sandy hair and a mustache. The city editor, Denny, was very thin but had a booming voice that could be heard across the newsroom. When an irate reader called to complain about something that was in the paper, the call would be forwarded to Denny, who would listen for a moment and then loudly tell the caller what an idiot he must be to have misunderstood the article so stupidly, and he would proceed to give a civics lecture on the finer points of freedom of the press which, he would note repeatedly, the caller was apparently too much of a moron to have learned in school.

My first beat was police and fire so every morning I made the rounds at the city police and the county sheriff's office. I also covered some criminal trials and did occasional feature stories. I later moved to the State desk where my beat included anything related to state and federal government. Not that we covered those levels of government on a daily basis. I kept track of what our legislators and congressmen were up to and issues about state and federal agencies.

On the State Desk, we also covered many of the surrounding smaller towns. One of the towns I covered was Milan, which was the birthplace of Thomas Edison. A few times I covered the town of Clyde, which was the bases of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg." I also covered Kelly's Island, which is one of several islands off the coast of Sandusky.

I also wrote several environmental stories about Lake Erie. Some of the were about water quality, agricultural fertilizer runoff and other science/policy matters, but also there was a program to repopulate bald eagles along Lake Erie and I went with a guy from the Department of Natural Resources who showed (from a distance) the locations of the nests.