‘Garrulous Greek’ recalls journalism gift

I display the pewter plaque prominently at my front door so that anyone leaving my house can see what has meant to me more than any awards I hang in my Feng Shui home.

The plaque was given to me by the editors and reporters of the college newspaper I served on as editor-in-chief. It was called “The Communitarian” and provided news for students and faculty at the Delaware County Community College just outside of Philadelphia

I became the chief by default. A young woman much smarter and a much better writer – Alice Brown – couldn’t finish the job because she was a single mom raising a small boy and didn’t have the time for extracurricular activities. Me, I could barely write a sentence without having spelling or grammar errors. But I had fortitude or maybe something called gumption.

You see, I had just finished my first year as a student after serving in the Vietnam War and I wanted to prove that veterans were not losers or crazed men. I pushed the reporters to write more and turned a quarterly newspaper into a weekly one with special editions on the 1972 election and my favorite, an April Fool’s edition. I was in charge, and with the consent of the staff, I endorsed George McGovern, risking the ire of many of the faculty who supported the eventual president, Richard Nixon.

The April Fools edition showed a greyhound dog lifting one of its legs in an attempt to relieve itself on the masthead of the newspaper. The person that applied the photo of the dog said that he actually “cringed” while using an X-Acto knife to cut sharply below the dog’s private parts. (Ouch!) Inside, we ran a quarter page advertisement offending a lot of the student feminists by asking “Pregnant? Need Help? Call us for to get you with child!“

I enjoyed meeting deadlines. It reminded me of firefights and the thrill of facing the uncertainty of the moment. I became a trial lawyer years later and loved trying a case from the proverbial “seat of my pants.” I guess I got hooked on risk-taking and sought it out most of my life.

The plaque gifted me at a special dinner of fellow students and our faculty advisor was the best award I ever  got — that year or any other year. I had also been awarded a Sigma Delta Chi journalism scholarship and a James A Finnegan fellowship to study state government in Harrisburg because of my editorial strivings. In addition, I was also chosen as a student speaker to address the graduation class where I angered many of Republican school district leaders when I pointed out the faults of a president facing obstruction of justice violations for something called “Watergate.”

It is this plaque, however, that has helped me get through some tough times when I felt really down. It’s made out to me “the Garrulous Greek” for “the horizons we all reached” in journalism and in life.

I’ll never forget how touched I was then and how it is still warms my heart these many years later!

4 comments on “‘Garrulous Greek’ recalls journalism gift

  1. nursebelva says:

    Wonderful read. So proud of you. Belva

  2. Your “gumption” serves you well, Michael J. This was such a lovely piece.

    • contoveros says:

      I’ve been tossing it around in this head of mine thinking of the deadlines we worked at the college newspaper. It was an exciting time and I will always praise the community college system to allow a schmuck like me to determine if he was “college material.”

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