I do remember this story pretty well. It’s another one I’m not sure I’ve ever told my parents, though I’m sure they remember my (solo) newspapering days well.* It all started with a snub. There was some kind of workshop or something for young writers in Indianapolis, I think. Something along those lines. Some people got the invite. I did not. I thought I was a pretty darned good writer.** I didn’t understand why I wasn’t going. I’ll show them, I thought in my young rage. But instead of just the usual temper tantrum, I was going to write my own paper. Armed with nothing more but some markers and some Crayola stamps, I made up a couple flyers and dropped them off as secretly as I could at my grandma’s house and my uncle John’s house.
*Well, they probably have an inkling of my college paper days, too, but it’s probably not as clear. Hell, I’m not sure if it’s all that clear to me. I sank an awful lot of time into the Bachelor.
**Some things don’t change, I guess.
Before I go any further, I suppose I should probably explain where I grew up a little bit. To this day, my grandma’s house is still Bushue headquarters. Surrounding this could probably be explained as a Bushue compound. That might be a little extreme, but I don’t think it’s entirely wrong. Going down our lane, you come to a bit of a split. Either go straight, or turn right. If you turned right, you went to Grandma’s. Later on, this would also be the way to my uncle Bill’s house, but that didn’t last too long. That’s another story entirely, and his time living back in Covington was long after the demise of The Weekly Lane. Anyway, back on topic. If you went straight, you hit my uncle John’s place. There was a gully with a homemade wooden bridge to link the two places. If you kept going past John’s, you got to our place. I believe by that time, my uncle Mark had moved into a house that you could get to by going through some woods and hopping the gate between his property and my grandma’s. Or ours, but I usually went through grandma’s.
So, that was my big advertising push. I dropped off those flyers, and then in the next day or two, I delivered my hand-written, hand-stapled papers. I don’t remember everything I put in there, but I remember the general layout. The first page was always “Sunrise,” which was my editorial. I didn’t know what an editorial was at the time, but in hindsight, that’s what I was writing. Next was the news. For the first couple papers, this was ripped almost directly from what I’d read in another newspaper or heard on TV. Next was sports, which again were a few stories I’d overheard on TV. After that were comics. I had three or four strips I drew and wrote. I honestly don’t remember any of them, and I’m sure I’d be pretty embarrassed by them now. I think I might have had a few games on that page, too. At one point, I tried to work out a sort of “Wheel of Fortune” game, but I think that only lasted a couple issues. A bit later on, there were trivia questions, which would net you a free copy if you were the first to get it right. I think those questions were generally provided by my dad. Then there was weather, which was usually taken from TV or the Star. For the first issue, that was it.
It took on a life of it’s own from there. My more extended family start wanting it, as well as a lot of their friends, and many of my grandma’s friends. The news quickly became less nationally oriented and more of me calling almost all my relatives and asking them if they had anything to put in the paper. The sports section is probably not a bad archive for my cousin John’s basketball career at Covington, or that team as a whole. Those were some of the better high school basketball teams I’ve been around, and I was there for four consecutive sectional championships and a run to the state final four. Unfortunately for those guys, class basketball hadn’t been introduced to Indiana yet, which usually meant they couldn’t get past the bigger schools of South Newton and Benton Central. Ads were introduced at the cost of two cents a word. I didn’t want to do them at first,* but I eventually relented with some persuading by my mom. Besides, my great grandpa Summers really wanted to place that ad for a dog that could hunt mushrooms. There was also the evolution of typing the thing out instead of writing it. I’m sure everybody who wanted to read it now can be thankful for that.
*See, Howard? Not wanting ads in the Bachelor has been a larger part of a lifelong philosophy, not just something I came up with sitting in your office with either Nelson or Patrick.
It was a nice little enterprise for a while. Plus, it was back during the age of dollar gas, so getting driven around to deliver the thing didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’m sure my parents didn’t mind it, either. Sure, the whole writing development and personal growth and all that stuff was nice. But I’m sure they didn’t mind that I would have my own money to spend at concession stands at games, either. Eventually, I got older and didn’t want to put the time into doing it any more. I would go through periods where I missed doing it through middle school, but never seriously enough to actually follow through. Besides, it probably wouldn’t have done so well then. The young journalist gig had been played out by that point.
My parents have said that all the issues still survive somewhere. I don’t know if they have them or if my grandma has them filed away somewhere. I’m a bit mixed at looking back at them now. There’s a little bit of me that I think would just die of embarrassment to look back at it now. But, mostly, I’m curious. I really wonder if some of the writing would surprise me in how good it was, considering my age. I wonder if some of the comics might have actually been funny. One of these days, if the papers are still floating around somewhere, I’ll have to take a look.
What’s really funny is I hadn’t even really planned to write about this today. That was just supposed to be my lede. Sometimes these things just take a life of their own, you know?