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Entry date: 6-15-2022 - Journalism and Typewriters - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I feel like telling a story today. Not sure why, but I do. I’ve been revisiting my youth a bit, as of late, so it seems like I should tell the story of how I became a writer.

I was very young when I became fascinated with typewriters. I loved to read and was encouraged to read by my grandfather, Tom, especially, and by my parents. Because of this, I definitely fancied the idea of being a writer and early on, it was journalism that caught my eye.

I liked reading the newspaper. My grandparents got it every day and I would sit and eat breakfast before school and Papa (what I called my grandfather then) and I would read the paper together. I liked the sports page and the comics, of course. I liked reading about the Suns if it was basketball season and the Arizona Republic had some really good sports writers in those days. Bob Eger and Bob Young, among others, were always good.

Of course, I also liked seeing the Spiderman comic strip every day, as well as Peanuts and Andy Capp. They even had the one panel Ziggy comic, too. I would see if I could get the jumble and the “spot the difference” puzzles, too. It was the morning ritual and I decided early on I wanted to be part of it.

At some point in the 70s, I got my first typewriter. This allowed me to start writing things and I probably started fifty newspapers over the years if I started one. Most of these never got past the first story, but it was something I enjoyed doing. I would occasionally take my typewriters to parties my mom would attend and interview people there. I’m sure some of those conversations were probably not kid appropriate knowing some of the people she and her boyfriend, Bill, hung out with at the time.

I wish I had some of those things I wrote in those days. I can only imagine the flood of memories they would bring back if I could read them now. I remember one party that was in Tempe, I think, where I set up shop with my typewriter in the front living room of the home we were in and just typed away for much of the evening. I can see the room in my mind but have no idea what I was writing about. I remember the adults being so impressed that I was as young as I was, probably under ten, and could type, for one thing, and actually write.

The bug to write continued in junior high and when I got to high school, Deer Valley offered a beginning journalism course. I signed up and it was my favorite class by far during freshman year. I only have fleeting memories of any of the other classes that year, but the journalism classroom was my home.

It was the class where I met one of my best friends in high school, Jerry. He was a tall, lanky fellow with blond hair and was a couple of years older than me due to being held back early on in school. We weren’t instant friends, but over the first few months of freshman year, our friendship really grew. He was more interested in the yearbook side of things, so our goals didn’t really interfere with each other, and we talked a lot about which girls in the class were the best looking.

I had a crush on a girl named Yvette and Jerry was constantly trying to get me to ask her out. It was pretty darn comical. I was so painfully shy in those days and had zero confidence with the ladies. Jerry was always pushing me to work on our writing projects with Yvette, though, and sometimes I would give it a go.

I remember one time when Jerry and I were talking way too much in class and Ms. Cummings, our teacher, said, “Tom and Jerry!” really loudly and the class lost its collective mind. From that point forward, we are referred to as the cat and mouse pair a lot, although some found it ironic that I was more like the cartoon Jerry, and he was more like Tom.

After freshman year was over (and no dates with Yvette), I was eligible to join the Skyhawk Flight staff at Deer Valley High and start my newspaper career. If you have been following along, this is where I initially met the nameless one as she was the editor of the school paper my sophomore year. She was good at that and was kind to me in that I got some assignments that year that were fun.

During tenth grade, I was assigned to the sports section of the paper and worked with a very interesting cat (no pun from the previous paragraphs intended) named Dave. He was very serious about writing, too, so I enjoyed working with him a lot. I interviewed a lot of the coaches that year and found the process to be super tedious, but I was on a working paper, so I was happy.

I was so jealous of the people who got to write features, though, and opinion pieces. At one point towards the end of the year I got to write an op-ed about the Sex Pistols. The headline was something like, “Sid’s Dead But Punk Music Lives On.” I got some heat for my opinions about a few things from the local punks, but whatever. That was my first music piece.

In it, I was careful to mention the local band, Response. By local, I mean local to Deer Valley High School as all the guys had ties to the school and I had a class with their singer, Kelly. I also mentioned a band from Greenway called Reckless Disregard that I had seen at a party and liked. I’m sure they probably hated it, but again, whatever. That was 1985.

It would only take 25 years after high school for me to get back into journalism.

See you tomorrow.

My first typewriter was like a junior version of this, but I couldn't find a picture of the exact one. It was dark blue and had a case.

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