Having logged past the 50 year mark, I look backward, not just forward. Thirty-one years ago in a recession – albeit milder than this one – I started my first journalism job, as a cub reporter for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel (owned by the Chicago Tribune).
It paid about $12,000 a year, but there was no state income tax and I was just one block from the beach. Long-sleeve white shirts and ties were worn regularly, however.
I wrote about the neighborhoods and took photos with a “Sure Shot” camera with some J-school buddies from Northwestern (much like the “citizen journalism” of nowadays).
One time, a man’s car caught on fire at an intersection and I snapped a photo of it. It ran on the front of the “neighbor’s section.” Another time, I wrote about a poor barber named Randy Barber, whose spinning barber pole was turned down by the City of Lighthouse Point because it was a “moving sign.” It was my first Page One article.
Later I was promoted to the business desk, where I wrote about Eastern Airlines, Pan Am and Freddie Laker’s airlines. I also was a stringer for the New York Times, dictating my stories into an answering machine up in New York. I received $50 for each one. At the Sun-Sentinel, our boss used to send us emails such as “See Me” on a Coyote terminal. Our articles were clipped from the newspaper and filed in the library.
On Southwest Airline’s “Cyber-sale day” last fall, I landed $200 roundtrip tickets to Fort Lauderdale for the family on Easter break, because I miss the place from time to time. I landed some other cheap plane tickets that day too, and have canceled all of them because we’re very busy.
This one, however, I’m clinging to for nostalga’s sake and OK timing: We just sent the Spring issue of our magazine to the printer, and our son is on a school break. So we are being opportunistic.
Nonetheless, we are right in the middle of another project – the Placer County Welcome Guide – so we just packed up the computers, layouts, spread sheets and so on and headed out on a working vacation. Technology has changed how we work (and communicate) in the past 30 years.
Fort Lauderdale’s claim to fame, at least when I landed there 31 years ago on an Eastern Airlines flight, was its place in a Connie Francis movie in 1961, “Where the Boys Are.”
Our son’s birthday is on Easter Sunday, and he’s still wondering if the Easter Bunny is going to forget his special day. I reminded him that the next time his birthday falls on Easter, he will be 89 years old, so to just enjoy it.
We’re going to celebrate Easter Sunday at St. Anthony’s Church in Fort Lauderdale, near the 17th Street Causeway, where tennis player Chris Evert went to church while she was growing up. She played tennis just up the road at Holiday Park. There’s an Easter Egg hunt for the children.
I’m looking forward to this working vacation, because I can go swimming in the ocean, eat raw oysters and conch chowder at local joints such as Tark’s of Dania, and show my son the newspaper (and visit with some of my former colleagues who still work there).
We’ll provide some reports while we’re at the computer. I’ve always been interested in Florida politics, and Marco Rubio is a wild card in this year’s national elections. Enjoy your weekend.