I have been writing people stories for a long time. But before the people stories, I did my time writing obits, club news, municipal meetings, that sort of thing. Things that you come to expect in your local hometown newspaper. After I did my time, I decided that what I really wanted to do and what I really enjoyed was telling everyone’s stories. After all, everyone does have a story to tell. I always enjoy watching Steve Hartman on Friday nights as he gets on the road across the U.S., telling people’s stories. That is how I want to be remembered, telling about the good in people.
There was a time in my not so far distant life that a major change in my occupation took place. I had switched gears and left writing for the Nevada Journal to work in my educated profession, the legal rat race. Then I had the opportunity to go to work for Ed and Sharon Rood at the Tri-County Times.
Finally, back where I belonged. I was so happy to be out talking to people in a good way, and it was this job with these two amazing people that afforded me that opportunity. I learned first to respect Ed and Sharon in the journalism and business fields, and then learned to love them as my good friends. But probably most important, they served as my mentors…experienced and trusted advisers.
I learned so much from my time at the Times. These two people took a chance on me and molded me into the writer that I am today. I watched and listened to both of them, soaking up everything they could teach me about writing and photography, and interacting with the people in the small towns that I was now assigned to “cover.”
I sat down with Ed and Sharon last week and asked them why they took a chance with me.
“I was happy with you as a writer,” Ed said to me. “You were level-headed and were exactly what we wanted. You showed a great interest and cared about the people in our reading area. You could say you were the ideal fit for our newspaper.”
I was there to write and learn, and along the way I did learn and write, but it was also fun to work with and for Ed and Sharon.
“You did a good job because you knew what you were doing,” said Sharon.
The Tri-County Times was a family newspaper and Ed and Sharon made me feel like part of that family. Ed’s dad, Phil Rood (known to me as Grandpa Rood, I loved this man) read everything we wrote. When it was time for Grandpa Rood’s retirement, Ed and Sharon stepped up and purchased the newspaper. Nothing new to Ed — he had been part of the family operation since he was in fourth grade.
In those early years of the Times, there was no staff to speak of. As an owner you wrote, did the photography, covered whatever and managed the correspondence. You knew who had dinner with whom. Who had a new baby and who came to visit that baby. Graduations and deaths, one person pretty much did it all.
Ed started covering meetings while in high school, and when it was decided that people really wanted to read about their local high school sports teams, he started covering them as well. He worked at the Ames Tribune, filling in when people needed time off. He studied journalism at Grandview College.
Sharon married into the news world. She had worked as an assistant to the Iowa Historical Building curator. Once married to Ed, she came in to help with circulation, subscriptions and to keep us all in line.
Ed and Sharon made a commitment to me in a very caring way; they took part in my learning process. I learned what is acceptable and they taught me to see the value in those people who read what I wrote. We didn’t see much change in the news world back then, so we really didn’t have to change our thinking. What and how we were doing things was paying off. I learned through them, by the way that they treated people.
The one key question that I ask myself was — what did my mentors really teach me?
They taught me to not judge anyone, to be impartial and to write the way I speak. Well, I tend to speak from my heart and what I want to accomplish is to make people laugh or cry, but mostly laugh or smile and feel that they just spent some quality time reading what I wrote.
Ed and Sharon agreed that they felt that I was able to write what people are interested in reading. They said that I fit in well with them.
Actually, they fit in really well with me.
Thank you for giving me that shot, allowing me to do what I love to do. I feel I learned a lot from the best there is.
Some may say that the role of mentors has been lost in antiquity. I disagree.
My mentors were and still are my role models.
Thank you for believing in me and showing me the way to be a good writer. I am still working towards that epic.
Lynn Marr-Moore is a contributing writer for the Tri-County Times and Nevada Journal.