Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

To get things done here, (I) talk to the right people

There’s nothing like an advertising man with a sense of humor. Absolutely nothing.

Back in the days of yore (I’m talking about the 1950s) when The News-Herald was in the Old Apple Barn on Mentor Avenue in Willoughby...

Hold it for a minute. I’d better explain that. The apple barn was across from the former airport, which became a golf course, which became a housing development.

We built the new News-Herald building on the same lot as the old building, except it is just a few feet to the east. So the new building is in Mentor, while the old building is still in Willoughby.

It’s not really that confusing, because that is where the municipal lines are located — right between the two buildings.

But back in those golden days of yore, as I was telling you, advertising men were capable of coming up with funny lines. My problem is, I don’t remember whether it was Ray Ferguson or Dick Schoenbeck who said it.

But one of them answered the phone (yes, we had telephones in those days) and a very irate lady with a problem said, “I’d like to talk to someone there who has a little authority.”

Ray (or Dick) replied, “Go ahead, lady. I’ve got as little authority around here as anybody.”

Fast forward 60 years. It is now 2012. I officially retired from here seven years ago. They still have me writing a Sunday column, which has been going on since Sept. 23, 1973, but that is all I do.

I used to have a little authority. Now I have none. Zero. I write the column and go home.

But because my picture is in the paper every Sunday, some people think I can do things which I cannot.

Things like: “Can you keep my son’s name out of the paper?” or, “Can you put my daughter’s name in the paper?” or “Can you get my nephew an internship?”

I cannot do any of those things. But I am leading up to something here.

The red light was flashing on my phone last Monday, meaning someone had left a message. I did not know how long ago it was left, but when I checked the voice mail it turned out to be from an old friend, Bob Gain, former star defensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns who, by all rights, should be in the National Football League Hall of Fame in Canton.

Bob still lives in Timberlake. I called immediately to see what was on his mind. Guess what? He didn’t get his paper Monday.

He expected I could do something about it. I told him I couldn’t. He wondered how I could work here 62 years and be the editor for 38 years and not be able to get somebody’s paper delivered.

I told him that was then and this is now — or something like that.

We had a long, pleasant conversation, in which he said he and Kitty were going to Kentucky so he could be installed in yet another hall of fame and probably get yet another diamond ring as a souvenir and get back in time for him and Kitty to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on June 16.

So I wished him a happy anniversary and asked him to pass my best wishes along to Kitty, who is a sweet lady, although he likes to tease her a bit.

“If I go first,” he said to her, “when I get up there I’m going to hide behind a cloud so you can’t find me.”

To which she responded (according to Bob): “There’s not a cloud in Heaven big enough to hide you.”

No sooner had we hung up than Jeff Sudbrook, the publisher, walked by. He asked how things are going.

“Bob Gain didn’t get his paper this morning,” I replied.

Jeff made a phone call. One phone call. Then he came back to where I had just begun to type this column.

“It’s taken care of,” Jeff said. “The Gains’ paper is on its way.”

Now that is authority.

If you want to look at it one way, I still have some authority but it is once removed.

I will probably get the credit, because Bob probably thinks I was the one who got his paper delivered. As the old saying goes, it doesn’t matter what you accomplish, it’s who gets the credit that counts.

Wait! That can’t be right.

Anyway, they got their paper, Jeff got the job done and I will probably get the credit — and I’m not going to tell anyone.

Happy 60th, Bob and Kitty. I hope you don’t read this column.


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