By Richard Mabey Jr.
There is within each and every one of us, a most unique blueprint, a destiny, a fate. It calls us quietly, as the moon calls the tide of the deep blue sea. It is the fiber and tapestry of who we are, as being a most unique individual with a distinct calling and purpose to fulfill within this lifetime. And, in the deepest fiber of our heart, we instinctively know when we are in alignment with this unique purpose and when we are not.
I came into this world with a congenital heart defect. When I was about 13 years old, I wanted so badly to play baseball. To be one of the guys on the team. One for all and all for one, and all of that kind of thing. Every year, I would try out for my high school baseball team. I would be a part of the team for a couple of weeks, then I would get cut from the team. I got winded easily running laps. It was all very heart breaking for me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but baseball was not my calling, it wasn’t my destiny, my fate. The good Lord had other plans for me. At the time, when I was in high school, I would write articles for the old Lincoln Park Herald. I would write at least one article a week. I would write about the activities of Boy Scout Troop 170, what my church youth group was doing, and I would write little news stories about people in my neighborhood.
Mr. Marino was the Editor-in-Chief of the old Lincoln Park Herald, back then. He was the definitive old school newspaper editor. “Write to be understood, not to impress people,” he would often say to me in differing variations of a theme. His philosophy of writing was in direct opposition to my high school English teachers. Respectfully, I think that I learned more from Mr. Marino than all of my high school English teachers put together.
At the time, in the late 1960’s, The Lincoln Park Herald office was located in a small building on Boonton Turnpike. It was a small, two room building. Oh, how I loved that little building. I would bring my typewritten newspaper articles to Mr. Marino. He would read the article, then take his blue pen to it. “Don’t use a lot of big words, Richie,” he would tell me in his old school, rough around the edges, voice tone.
If you remember Lou Grant, from the old Mary Tyler Moore, that was pretty much the philosophy and demeaner of Mr. Marino. He had a heart of gold, but he had a distinct vision of how a newspaper article should be written. “Always put the five W’s and the one H in the first paragraph, Richie. Always. No exceptions!” The five W’s are: who, what, when, where and why. The H stood for how.
There was nothing fancy or elaborate about the old Lincoln Park Herald office. It was a real, working town weekly newspaper office. To a newcomer, it might have seemed to appear cluttered. But Mr. Marino knew where everything was, from erasers to the latest articles slated to go in the paper that week. It really was the definitive old school, newspaper office.
I miss it all greatly. From time to time, I find myself drifting back to that little newspaper office. And, I reflect upon all the good advice Mr. Marino gave to me about writing. Sadly, I never thanked Mr. Marino for taking me under his wing. It’s something that I deeply regret. I’d like to think that Mr. Marino knew, in his heart of hearts, that I appreciated his sharing his wisdom on writing, with me.
It was a different time, a different place. And, I miss it all very much.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a free-lance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.