Like Stu before me, I am astounded at the rapid passage of time since my wife Hilleary Waters and I took over LIFE’s operations. At the time, we were both working two jobs and I had to convince …
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Like Stu before me, I am astounded at the rapid passage of time since my wife Hilleary Waters and I took over LIFE’s operations. At the time, we were both working two jobs and I had to convince her that we could eventually make the business support us and our then six-year-old son.
I moved to Colorado in 1972 and to the Hill at about the same time Stu was founding this publication. My wife-to-be followed in 1983. (I met her later when I rented her an apartment. We married in 1985).
When we took over LIFE, Hilleary’s experience had mostly been in retail sales, while I had been somewhat of a ne’er-do-well freelance writer for the better part of 25 years. I had supported my creative habit by a variety of vocations, including bartender, cabbie, chauffeur, apartment manager, bookkeeper and theatre business manager, among others.
I had published perhaps 250 articles, mostly in magazines and almost all local, and considered myself to be a “garbage man,” able to write convincingly on most any topic. In addition, with my identical twin brother Rick I had written and produced 14 stage productions, including children’s musicals (mostly presented at the old Bonfils Theatre cum Lowenstein cum Tattered Cover) and a variety of musical revues and comedies.
We even managed to produce an Off-Broadway play, The Singular Dorothy Parker, a one-woman show. (Every critic loved it... except for Mel Gussow of the New York Times.)
I got the job as a writer for LIFE when I picked up a 12-page issue and couldn’t help but notice more than 200 errors, mostly typographical and grammatical. I marked them all in red and sent the paper to Stu, whom I didn’t know, telling him he needed an editor. Not the best way to apply for a job, but it worked.
I became a part-time contributor to the paper (he wanted an ad salesman too, but in the words of Tommy LaSorda, I “included myself out” of that part of the biz) and over a period of five years or so I became the managing editor. I didn’t earn much, but it was certainly a learning experience.
When I started with the paper we didn’t still use hot lead linotype, but the production process wasn’t much more advanced than that until just recently. We’d submit our copy and it would be entered by a “typesetter” using some odd software on a monster of a machine. Then we’d pick it up, cut it into columns and begin the laborious one- or two-day task of actually cutting and pasting together an issue on cardboard flats.
Today I wonder how we survived those pre-PC & MAC days. Now of course, a mere 14 years or so later, it’s all done on computers. We’ve both learned by doing. Everything. Layout, ad design, pricing, distribution, bulk mailing, reporting, assignments, personnel management, and accounts receivable & payable.
After a year of ownership, we changed the layout of LIFE ... creating a new masthead, utilizing different fonts, altering ad sizes, and adding more color ... almost completely under Hilleary’s and graphic designer Tim Berland’s hands. We did that again in 2006. I slowly changed the focus of the paper, increasing the number of photos and illustrations and enhancing the coverage of news from the neighborhoods.
One of the benefits of publishing a monthly is that I normally have more time to research the news articles, which allows for fuller coverage of distinctly neighborhood news than that provided by the dailies. I’ve also strived to really just report news stories and not just pay lip service to objectivity, accuracy, fairness and a lack of bias, preferring to cover every “side” of an issue so LIFE’s readers can draw their own conclusions without the benefit of my opinion, or that of the reporters.
We hope you continue to enjoy LIFE, and, if you live north of Colfax up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., its sister paper, the eight-year-old Neighborhood Life.
The “experts” (probably the same folks who predicted flying cars) say that the future of the newspaper business is in small, community-based coverage both in print and online.
We’ve got 33 years of experience with the print version and with the assistance of our readers we plan on making our online version just as complete, helpful and well-read.
Thank you for reading LIFE.
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