A chance purchase at a garage sale has a tendency to result in a column for me. It’s happened before — I knew it would happen again. After initially passing up the opportunity to buy an Oct. 22, 1938, Crescent-News edition, I had second and third thoughts about going back to purchase the musty treasure for $2.
The amazingly large 64-page newspaper was a special edition, the biggest ever printed in Defiance at that time. The year 1938 marked two significant anniversaries in the city’s newspaper history and the 50th year of continuous publication of a daily newspaper.
The city’s first newspaper, published in 1838 was the Defiance Banner. Over the years, throughout the 1800s, there were several newspapers including the Defiance Democrat, Defiance County Express, Daily Crescent, Republic Daily Express and Weekly Express. In 1888, there was a final consolidation and the Crescent was the only newspaper left in Defiance.
And just like owners and newspaper names, employees have come and gone — some by choice, others ... not so much.
Working at the same place of employment for more than 30 years, a lot of people I’ve known have come and gone. My first memory is of publisher, Mr. Gordon Dix. No one ever called him Gordon — it was always Mr. Dix — as he was a gentle-man to be respected.
Mike Cummins, a tall, lanky guy, initially hired me so many years ago as a photographer. That job morphed into so many other responsibilities in the years I have been here. I will always remember him for his love of Stephen King Books, golfing and cigarettes — not necessarily in that order. He is definitely missed by those at the office that were here before he retired. Come to think of it, that amounts to only about five of us in the entire building.
Then there was Teri Hageman, the former area editor. Growing up in the same neighborhood, I credit her with helping put in a good word to Cummins that likely got me hired as a photographer initially. She left us way too early, but I will remember her as being tough, but fair.
Jack Palmer had a knack for remembering every sports fact known to mankind.
And then there was Duane Darrah, who worked in the old press room before we started printing at Fort Wayne. Duane had a tendency to come upstairs to the newsroom at least an hour after we went to press — quick to point out a mistake the newsroom staff obviously missed.
Don Meyer, who passed away Saturday, used to work in the photography darkroom and production department prior to his retirement. It took me the longest time to finally convince him that batteries for the camera flashes should not be stored in the refrigerator. I tend to have a persistent streak in me that ultimately causes people to give in — and at least it shut me up for awhile.
One of my favorites was Jack Sandys, who used to layout and “paste up” the pages before they got sent to the camera room. He did that well before the “age of computer pagination.” His last years at the paper included working on a file where we put all of the digital photos for the day. He would take the photos from a file named after him (and continues to be named after him to this day), “Jack’s scans,” and do his magic to make them look good.
At 4 a.m. the day of the downtown fire at the corner of Clinton and First streets, I showed up with camera in hand and Jack was already at work. He took me down to the press room, pointed out the 2-story ladder attached to the wall and sent me on my way to the roof for photos of the fire.
All of them had years of newspaper experience, something those of us who remember them can truly appreciate.