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Love Notes

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Fifty years of journalism

My first thought on St. Patrick’s Day after spotting the story in the Bonner County Daily Bee about the Mountain View Livestock 4-H Club had to do with senility.

“I’m really old,” I thought.

The story clearly validated that.

After all, it was written 50 years ago, by me, for the Sandpoint News Bulletin, a weekly local paper, which died long ago, only to be found these days in museums or family scrapbook collections.

I rationalized the age business, figuring I was among friends. My report to the paper had mentioned childhood buddies, now mostly retired senior citizens like me. Frances Paulet and Laura Delamarter, the historians, had purchased a club scrapbook for newspaper clippings. Sally Davis had hosted the meeting, and Gary Finney would host the next meeting at his family’s Colburn farm.

Since we were all in this age thing together, it didn’t seem quite so dreadful that the story happened 50 years ago.

I had been reading that “50 Years Ago” column for some time, recalling in recent features both events and people I knew from my childhood days in Sandpoint. Of course, they were all old, unlike me.

Then, that story with my byline appeared.

Later that day, I ceased the senility lamentations after being struck by a big, bold headline flashing through my mind: I had been reporting news for half a century!

My next thought: What a run it has been!

Besides horses, eating and talking too much, I think journalism is the only passion I’ve stuck with for most of my life.  

Reflecting on Kodak moments from a half-century’s worth of story-telling made me smile.  

The continued discipline of observing, asking questions (often of total strangers), listening, taking notes, crafting stories, self editing, and seeing my work in print has taken me to places I’ll never forget and people I’ll always treasure.

I’ve reported hundreds of stories about phenomenal human beings. There’s Andrea, my classmate who gave up a kidney for her brother. I’ll never forget the day and the goosebumps while sitting in the Upper Pack River home of New York City opera soloist Josephine Asaro, as she demonstrated the magnificent power of her soprano voice. In 1990, it was a thrill to report to the region that Sandpoint’s Greg Parker had graduated first in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

I’ve written about my former student and family friend, Cindy Wooden, who’s been reporting Papal activities from the Vatican for 20 years. During an interview with Irene Bennett Dunn, I took notes with one hand and covered my eyes with the other as she tearfully recounted the night when the 1959 Yellowstone Earthquake wiped out most of her family. I didn’t want Irene to see me cry.

I’ll never forget all those trips to the bathroom while I nervously awaited the pre-arranged call from Lord of the Rings star, Viggo Mortensen. Somehow, my brain and my fingers managed to work during that interview. Thanks to the Internet, the resulting story reached adoring Viggo fans around the world and copies of that issue of Sandpoint Magazine netted some big bucks for fundraisers.

Northwest editor Dan Wakely, from the old Spokane Chronicle, kept me busy with my pen and my camera back in the ‘70s. One day he asked me to follow Idaho Sen. Frank Church on his visits around Bonner County. On another occasion I drove around Sandpoint and the outlying areas, snapping photos of severe damage done to the golf course and to people’s homes by a tornado, thought to be the first ever to blow through here.

Also, in the 1970s, I snapped oodles of pictures for a story about North Idaho “For Sale,” one of the many times it’s seemingly been for sale over the past four decades.

I’ve often written funny stories. After all, a lot of life is funny. Take, for example, the story in the U of I Argonaut entitled “Carter Hall Girls Get the Shaft.” I wrote that after my dorm friends got stuck for two hours between floors in the Wallace Complex. They played pinochle to calm their claustrophobia.

Publisher Gary Pietsch encouraged my story-telling during summers I spent working for his family’s weekly, the Sandpoint News Bulletin. God had to be watching over me the time Gary sent me to Dillon, Montana, to cover the Selkirk Hereford cattle operation’s move from its Selle roots to the huge Circle C Ranch.

I spent the day viewing the thousands of acres of cattle land with herdsman Gibbs Rehm, taking photos and notes, only, at the end of the day, to accidentally open up my camera, exposing a 36-frame roll of film. Lucky for me, only one photo bit the dust in that potential catastrophe. There were pictures and story enough to fill two full pages in the paper.

Need I say any more about meeting my husband Bill while composing feature stories for a special tabloid about the 1973 Boy Scout Jamboree? Thank you, Gary, for that assignment. We’ll be celebrating 35 years of marriage in June.

The year after we were married, Bill and I provided overnight accommodations in our tiny rental home for a group of nine Seattle bicyclers headed around the world. Their only payment: let me write your story. I still keep in touch with one who lives in Vermont.

For three or four years, I chased down features and photos for Bonner County Fair tabloid newspapers. Since then, I’ve never let SHS instructor, then 4-H’er Tom Albertson forget the photo of spaghetti rolling down his chubby adolescent cheeks.

Years later, I interviewed Tom again (for my son’s Nampa newspaper, no less) as one of three babies born the same week at the local hospital to Sandpoint Junior High teachers. One of the trio: Alaska Gov. and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

One of my favorite assignments ever was telling the story of Ted Grant, a railroad gandydancer and a vociferous recollector of how it was in the old days when Sandpoint went sour, thanks to the Village Council’s decisions in 1935.

Some of my other favorites include a feature on Harold’s IGA, Army Sgt. Brandon Adam’s inspiring thoughts after losing both legs in Iraq, a piece about the World War II era at Farragut Naval Training Station, Sandpoint’s railroad influence, and a story I wrote for the Ruralite about a Bonners Ferry welder with an “att-y-tude.”  

No longer can I spout out, in one breath, a list of all the walks of life represented in my reportorial repertoire. My stories have appeared horse magazines, a Catholic newspaper, Sandpoint Magazine, the Pacific Northwest Inlander, and, for the past seven years, in my regular column for this paper. Thank you, Trish, for providing me the opportunity to write what’s on my mind.

What’s on my mind right now is another deadline to meet and another group of stories to tell about folks working the forest industry. As author Pat McManus has told me once or twice, we never get to quit writing. And, at this point in my old life, that’s okay because I still yearn to tell the stories that make the whole world spin.

My only regret: when “100 Years Ago in Bonner County” has a chance to roll around for news from March 17, 1959, newspapers and I will be long gone.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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