Challenges! My very worst moment was a day or so before I was due to drive the “mock-ups”– pages of carefully typed columns, with spaces ruled in exactly for advertisements, headlines, photographs and drawings – up to Renfrew to be printed. My colleague (and one-time neighbour) had agreed to collect advertising from local merchants and others, but the ads still hadn’t appeared. This left us with some empty spaces. In the early 1970s, not everyone had computers, so if we didn’t get the advertising and finish the hours of research, typing and correcting done by many friends and neighbours, it meant we’d have to cancel the printing contract, and try again. And of course we needed those ads both for the money they brought in and because they showed that Glebe merchants, event organizers and others supported us, and had faith that a community newspaper would work. They were our first paying customers – we couldn’t let them down.
Then someone, perhaps Clyde (my husband), came up with an inspired solution. It was the year our eldest twin sons began Grade 9 at Glebe Collegiate. The new principal had just held a student assembly during which he set out to impress the whole school about the importance of dressing appropriately for school. No torn or patched jeans, skimpy skirts, low-cut blouses etc. As he was making these points, from the middle of the stage, he began to undress. First he pulled his jacket off, slowly removed his shirt and tie, undid the buckle and pulled the belt carefully out. You can imagine the rapt silence in the auditorium. Then he did it – down to his knickers! Then someone offstage must have hastily pulled down the curtains.
When our sons came home from school that day, they seemed fine and did a lot of whispering and laughing, but were a bit guarded when I asked them how the day had gone. Finally, prodding them more for what they thought of high school, the truth about the striptease came out. We phoned a few friends whose children were at Glebe Collegiate, to make sure of the facts – and then another penny dropped. Why not get that new young artist we’d just met to give us her drawings of the daring Glebe Collegiate striptease, so we could use them to plug those empty spaces in the mock-up? It worked, and that edition of the Glebe Report was gobbled up. However, we still didn’t have any money to pay the printers. A wonderful friend talked to her local Bank of Nova Scotia manager who came up with a loan of $250, I think it was, which we eventually paid back.
Next crisis – a threatened libel suit! People in every neighbourhood in the Glebe were debating and arguing about traffic in those days. Drivers bound for many corners of the city were cutting through our residential streets, threatening our kids on bikes, street-hockey players and ball players. Our first issue carried a page one headline: “Benoit Accused of Breaking Faith over Holmwood,” referring to the then mayor. He threatened to sue unless we apologized. We did, on page one! (to the disgust of Clyde…). We carried on – with the help of so many friends, some of whom are still involved.