The Clyde Beatty/Cole Brothers Circus invited me backstage when they performed at the Phillipsburg Mall. I watched the clowns prep for the performance, talked with the lion tamer, interviewed a corps of Russian Aerial Ballet artists and even fed the elephants. I loved those elephants. The man who took care of them handed me a loaf of bread, plain old sliced white bread and directed me to slap it into their mouths.
I had three or four slices of bread on the palm of my hand. The elephant would lift his trunk and I would stick my hand in his mouth and press the bread to his tongue. And he ate the whole loaf.
This feature appeared in the (Phillipsburg) Free Press in June 2001. I took the photos. I also photographed the show. I may have to dig those out and scan them another day.
circus, part 2
Circus, part 3
I clearly remember leaving the office on my due date to visit the obstetrician. I had been 4 cm dilated and significantly effaced since my birthday, a good three weeks earlier. In the newsroom, at meetings and at interviews, my heavily pregnant self made people nervous. I asked my obstetrician when I should stop working. He looked at me and, once he recovered from the shock that I was still in the office, suggested I not return.
That was June 10. My daughter came into this world on June 23, thanks to some hearty doses of Pitocin to hurry her along. Any first-time parent will tell you, those first six-to-eight weeks are “baby boot camp,” grueling, exhausting and testing your limits. I can’t speak on second babies. I only had one.
As a good reporter, I tried to recycle some of my personal experience into copy. Plus, I learned a lot of information as a new parent that I never knew before, or perhaps thought about things I never thought about before I had a baby.
Breastfeeding was one of these topics. I felt like no one really talked about it. I was born premature and didn’t come out of the hospital for three months so my mother never breastfed. I felt lost and figured if I felt lost, so did others.
My editor allowed me to do a lengthy two-part series on breastfeeding. This is part one.
Breastfeeding, part 1
Breastfeeding, part 2
Do Servers Deserve a Real Paycheck?
I have often played with the idea of writing a food/opinion column. I pitched the idea when the Saucon News was still a small local weekly, one that was later bought out and grouped with a series of five other new weeklies by Berks-Mont Newspapers/Journal Register company. That became the Lehigh Valley News Group and at its creation in 2006, I served as managing editor.
But this little opinion column predates all of that, and honestly I had forgotten about it until I recently dug through the crate of news clippings I have in my home office.
I tackle the question: should servers receive a real paycheck? This was at the time that the IRS was considering using a restaurant’s credit card receipts to determine an average amount that each server earned in tips and then use that as a basis for income tax liability.
My guest column in my last issue of The Free Press
I worked at The Free Press (Phillipsburg, N.J.) for about a year. I left when a publisher from another weekly called me out of the blue and offered me an editor position. I hated to leave Phillipsburg and my amazing publisher Enid, but I had long ago learned that regrets often stemmed from not knowing “What if?”
The Free Press was a weekly paper, paid subscription, mailed to those who subscribed. At the point I started working for Enid, I had already freelanced for a decade. This was my first full-time journalism position. I was sitting at my desk in our very tiny newsroom on September 11, 2001. The experience of being part of the media, even if only part of a small local weekly, gave a haunting layer to the tragedy.
After a year as editor of The Blue Valley Times, working with my former science teacher, Larry Cory, I joined the staff of the start-up weeklies from the Morning Call, known as The Chronicles. I returned to Phillipsburg, and in the three years that entity existed, I made some relationships that last until today. Phillipsburg still holds a special place in my heart.
And it’s not just because the gas in New Jersey is cheaper than Pennsylvania. And it’s not because the gas stations are full service.
Part one of a long front page feature
At the Chronicle, I occasionally wrote long features. I loved what these high school students were doing, so my editor gave me free reign to profile them. I took the photos, and the front page photo of Randy remains one of my favorites. June 2003. Ten years ago. I should find out what happened to these youth.