By DAVID GREEN
I came home from work Friday and answered a ringing telephone. Someone was asking for Larry See.
That name might not mean anything to you, but I recognized it immediately. Larry was once a kid from the Carleton Airport area of Michigan. He graduated from a smaller college—maybe Saginaw Valley—and was later hired by me to serve as a reporter here.
That might have been in the late 1980s. I’d have to do some research on that.
Larry didn’t stay at the Observer for a long time. I thought he might have been heading back to work at the nuclear facility near Monroe to obtain a good, steady job that paid a decent wage, but then a few months later I saw that he was working for a weekly in northern Michigan.
He obviously hadn’t learned his lesson about working in réportage.
I suspected this might be a prank call. I give out enough of them that I’m bound to receive a few back now and then. I took a chance and said, “I don’t See Larry anywhere.”
So the caller then asked if Wendy Walker was there. To repeat myself, that name might not mean anything to you, but I recognized it immediately.
Wendy is a granddaughter of Roger and Margaret Porter who worked as a reporter for the Observer back, let me guess, 2001? Again, I would have to investigate a little to come up with dates. There have been a few reporters here over the years, as many of you do know.
Now, did Wendy return home to Illinois or was that her twin sister? Maybe Wendy’s still in town and I just haven’t run across her lately. The twins could have fooled me any day of the week. Maybe they did. Maybe half the time it wasn’t Wendy that I sent off to school board meetings.
By now I knew who was on the other end of the line. It was yet another former reporter, Brad Whitehouse. I was impressed that he came up with the name Larry See. That was long before the Brad error, I mean the Brad era.
Brad, another local grandchild, was hired sight unseen when he was finishing up his studies at Wheaton College. He had a minor in geology and I considered that a rock-solid background. We spoke briefly on the phone once before he was hired.
He explored Morenci to its fullest, including spending a night in a vacant drainage pipe section near the sewage lagoons. I don’t recall that any other reporter had that experience, but maybe Jim Stevens or John Whetstone headed out that way.
I expect to receive many more odd calls from Brad because of what I’ve done to him while he worked in the public relations department at Adrian College. There was nothing better than receiving a press release from Brad via e-mail, then sending it back to him after altering the text slightly and asking, for example, “Are you sure you wanted to refer to that man as the Demon of Students?”
That didn’t happen too often. Usually it was sufficient to reply with a curt “Don’t send me any more of this garbage” or “Please remove me from your contact list.”
Brad has recently moved on to the University of Michigan’s alumni magazine and a whole new world of tricks awaits. I’ve already provided him with one lead: A Morenci person who earned a degree at U of M and now works as a “lady of the night.” He hasn’t yet asked for details.
Several former colleagues have moved on to other newspaper jobs. Maybe Larry, but definitely Steve Begnoche, Dan Basso, Eric Baerren and Jeff Johnston.
I was at Jeff’s house just today in honor of his 40th birthday. He started his career at the Observer office, a young whipper-snapper fresh out of college. He chose the Observer because of my job posting message. It included something like, “The successful candidate will be allowed to push the broom around the office every other Saturday morning, if qualified.” I don’t know that he ever did any sweeping, but he was a darn good writer.
He’s been at the Flint Journal for years and he figures he’ll stay a while longer, despite the recent buyout offer. The workforce is being reduced by an amazing 20 percent. Such is the state of newspapers in America.
The state of my newspaper is this: I left town for nine and a half hours and I’m frightfully behind.
I gotta go.