I met Donna at a mid-week forum run by WBAI In the Spirit Radio host, Lex Hixon. On the day of our first date, she had just interviewed for a job in the Ad Department at E&P. After she began work there, I would often show up at 5 to meet her. When a seagull told me to quit my job as a laborer [a story for another time] Donna asked Don’t-have-a-noble-bone-in-my-body Parvin if he could use me. “That guy always looks like he’s been working under a car,” replied Parvin. “Tell him to clean up and come in for an interview in a three-piece suit.”
I learned that you can be a dirty-dog in the library, yet despite getting fired, the editorial department still respects your work. Subsequently, Editor & Publisher ran two Shoptalks of mine as well a 1988 cover story. Those E&P clips opened doors when I pitched freelance articles to local publications.
Thanks to Donna getting herself fired for getting mouthy with the librarian over my firing, she also got fired, thus allowing us to relocate to Vermont as we were both on unemployment insurance. Locally I did not become known as a writer until after the 1988 story.
After several years of keeping our distance, Brattleboro Reformer Managing Editor, Norman Runnion and I got to know each other when I interviewed him and his ace reporter, Tego (Theresa Maggio). I was gathering information for the July 2, 1988 cover story: “Vt. paper runs unsigned letter on front page).” I think Norm was surprised that I was on assignment from E&P, a disreputable individual like me. I worried whether he would believe me, but in retrospect I realize that he must have called E&P to check.
Still, Norm could have refused the interview. I am sure he was glad that he did not refuse. My story won him national recognition, including a prestigious Laurel in the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).
A few weeks after that article ran, feeling somewhat dejected I was sitting at the end of a row of backless, swiveling counter-stools in the old downtown Dunkin’ Donuts. In walks Norman Runnion and sits on the adjacent stool. From that stool, Norman Runnion gave me the highest compliment an editor can give a journalist:
“You got the lead right. You got the story right.”
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