When my husband and I moved out here in the early spring of 1992, it was a dream come true for me.
I’d always had this big idea to move out to “the country” and “be a writer.” I’d worked in the legal field for almost a decade, and while it was fascinating and paid very well, it wasn’t my heart’s calling. I had started taking classes again at Oakland Community College, and figured I’d find some freelance jobs for the multitude of magazines and publications around the metro-Detroit area. Things were pretty big in the print business back then. It was pre-Internet days, and newspapers and
periodicals were one of just a few avenues for business owners to advertise. I’d already had some success as a “correspondent” for the Royal Oak Daily Tribune, and had some poetry and feature pieces published in the Metro Times.
Part one of the dream was finding the pond. We did. We bought the place—a beautiful slice of land that encompasses five wooded acres and a pond for under a hundred grand in 1992. The 1,200 square foot ranch home was built in the 1950s, and moved to the location in the ’70s when M-53 was rerouted to bypass Romeo.
The wonderful couple who sold the place to us were Karen and Gene Richey. They had decided to move when their second baby was beginning to toddle around. What with the pond and all, they wanted their children to have the freedom that all little kids enjoy, wandering around outdoors, riding bikes, playing make believe. That would be hard to do without constant supervision at the place, because the pond is just mere steps away from the home’s back door. They’d purchased a place in Romeo, closer to where Gene worked at the Ford Engine Plant, and where Karen taught writing at Macomb Community College.
It wasn’t lost on me that I was entering a lineage of writers in the home. I dreamed about setting the trusty IBM Memorywriter I’d bought off the law firm when they upgraded to PCs on my heirloom kitchen table in front of the big picture window (the sliding glass door would come later) and pound away on the keyboard like Thoreau on Walden’s Pond or whatnot.
Because it was an entirely new community, and seemed so remote and unlike metro-Detroit, among the first questions we had for Karen and Gene was “are there any newspapers around here?”
Karen grinned. After explaining that she’d “written for all of them,” she mentioned the Tri-City Times. When Rod and I were out and about town, we picked up a copy. We paged through the paper looking for places to eat and shop, and we found them all there advertising their businesses. It really helped us embrace our new “hometown.”
Several months later, there was an ad in the paper looking for a part-time reporter. I circled the ad and said “that job is mine.”
Well, it wasn’t. A phone conversation with the then-editor made it clear to me that it wouldn’t be a good idea to work with the individual. I chose not to pursue it.
A few months later, I noticed a change in the editorship. Cathy Barringer was now at the helm. I took a chance and gave her a call. We set up a meeting, and the rest is history. My first byline appeared in Tri-City Times in September of 1994. Part of my “beat” was the Capac School District, along with Capac and Dryden village council meetings. I also tackled a number of ‘Spotlight’ assignments, as my strength was in feature writing, not hard news. The Spotlights were fun because they were in depth features with an entire page dedicated to telling the story. Multiple photos were also welcome. I loved it.
When Cathy went on maternity leave a few years later, my esteemed colleague Tom Wearing took over the editor’s job. It was supposed to be temporary, but Cathy decided she wanted to stay home and raise her new baby. Tom was now the full time editor, and he offered me a full time job in 1998. The rest is, again, history.
I am one of the fortunate ones who has had the experience of living the dream, and now that I’m moving in another direction, it does indeed feel like just that. Some 24 years packed transformed overnight.
Email Catherine at cminolli@pageone-inc.com