Even though The Suburbanite has relocated its offices, it continues to operate and build on rich traditions.
Dr. Hank Ruminski, my journalism professor at the University of Akron, and I had a good relationship. He grew up in St. Clairsville, near where my father was from, and he had worked for the newspaper in that area. As such, I think he kind of looked out for me.
I was excited when he asked me to see him after class one day in September 1977 to discuss a job possibility at an area newspaper.
“I know you said once that you live down in southern Summit County and I received a call from the publisher of a paper down there looking for a sports writer,” he said, handing me a piece of paper with contact information.
This was decades before cell phones, so I raced home after school and called the Green Views’ Ron Thrash, who asked me to come over to the office. I wasted no time in doing that as well.
The paper and a beauty salon shared a building – a converted house – on state Route 619, about a half-mile east of the South Arlington Road intersection in what was then Green Township.
I opened the door, walked in and my jaw dropped. The office was so small that when one person moved, everybody else also had to move to adjust.
The New York Times, this was not.
Oh, well. A job was a job – even if it was just a part-time gig covering Green High School sports.
And I couldn’t wait to get started.
The next evening, Ron sent me to cover a Bulldogs football game at Highland. I drove the 30 miles – one way – to get there, thrilled to death the whole way. I treated it as if I were covering the NFL. Green won the game with a late touchdown and, afterward, I went to the locker room to interview Green head coach Dan Drake.
A very nice man and the best football coach Green has ever had, he was gracious, accommodating and patient, answering a series of inane, ignorant questions from a cub reporter. I will forever be indebted to him for his kindness.
I went back home, wrote the story in longhand – I didn’t need to use my Montgomery Ward typewriter that time – and took it to the paper, where I handed it to typsetter Yvette Eberhart who typed it into the system.
I was getting published. Woo-hoo!
Not long thereafter, the paper moved its offices to another converted house at the intersection of South Main Street and Moore Road in Green, about a half-mile north of Route 619. The house was bigger, and that, along with the fact there were no fellow tenants, meant there was a lot more room.
At about the same time, the paper changed its name to The Suburbanite and added Coventry and Franklin townships and their schools to the coverage area.
Since then, of course, The Suburbanite has added Springfield and Lake townships, Uniontown and Hartville as well as Springfield and Lake Local Schools. Later, The Jackson Suburbanite, covering Jackson Township and the Jackson schools was unveiled.
I thought of all that when I heard the recent announcement that The Suburbanite and Jackson Suburbanite offices at the intersection of South Arlington Road and Route 619 in Green, near where it all began decades ago, have been closed and moved to The Repository in downtown Canton.
I’m not sure, but I think I’m the only person who has worked for The Suburbanite for at least part of its stays at the previous three office locations.
I don’t know what that means other than the fact I’m old and have been around for a long time.
In all seriousness, it means I’m seen a lot of changes, a lot of history and a lot of news events.
Without question, the paper’s all-time biggest news event – at least in my opinion – occurred on Aug. 2, 1979. I was the associate editor under Editor Anne Salmons, a sweetheart of a woman who had started the Green Views in 1969 in the kitchen of her home in Green Township. We worked together, along with Production Director/Photographer Lynn Stamp in the upstairs of the building, which had no air conditioning.
On an especially sweltering day, we received a call from someone saying that there had been a plane crash near Akron-Canton Airport. A real news hound, Anne raced there to see what she could find out.
She went east on Greensburg Road toward the airport and came upon a lot of commotion. A small plane had indeed crashed right on the road, caught on fire and was a charred mess. The pilot, who had been practicing takeoffs and landings at the airport, had been killed. Two other passengerss, a friend and the flight instructor, survived.
Anne knew everybody in Green and she saw one of the township’s volunteer firefighters, Dan Koontz. When Anne asked him for the name of the victim, he said he wasn’t allowed to tell her. Then he asked for her pen and notepad and wrote “THURMAN MUNSON” on the top sheet of paper.
Not being a sports fan, Anne had no idea who Munson was. She soon found out that he was a Canton Lehman High School product, a Plain Township resident and – most importantly – the star catcher of the two-time defending World Series champion New York Yankees.
Here Anne was, the first news person – and, for a long time, the only news person – on the scene of what would become an international story. She had no way to scoop all the big-time news outlets because we were a weekly and the Internet was still nothing more than a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.
Anne, Lynn and I sat around and racked our brains trying to think of some way to break the news to the world, but to no avail. None existed. It was like we were all dressed up with nowhere to go.
But it was – and still is – a great story. It’s The Suburbanite’s all-time biggest badge of honor in that Anne was privy to it all. That seemed fitting, for it was Anne who had kept the paper going during the lean days until Ron Thrash purchased it and pumped some much-needed money into it.
That was when I knew The Suburbanite was a pretty cool place to work and that community journalism is more riveting than it’s made out to be.
Thanks, Dr. Ruminski, for steering me in the right direction – still, all these years later.