I was so sad to hear of Helen Gooderham’s death at the end of April. Helen, my predecessor at the Glebe Report, took on the unenviable task of teaching me the basics of writing and editing and layout. I had a degree in English from Queen’s University but no journalism training. Helen somehow made it all sound doable and with her continuing help, it was.
Putting a paper out in the seventies was very different from today. We wrote the entire paper on a single, borrowed IBM Selectric typewriter, and we used yards of a product called Letraset to measure out columns and put borders around ads. I sometimes wonder how many bottles of correcting fluid we consumed. We lugged the freshly laid-out paper over to the bus terminal and sent it up the highway to Fred Runge in Renfrew. Within a few days the printed papers would arrive back, ready for distribution to the volunteer deliverers.
The first thing I did as the new editor – and certainly the wisest – was to recruit Liz Pritchard, then living on Third Avenue, to handle the business side of things and to do the lion’s share of layout. Liz had a steadier hand than I and she was a master at selling ads and keeping our accounts in order.
We used the Gooderham’s dining room on Clemow Avenue for my first couple of months until the wonderful Inder and Mo Handa, now of Handa Travel, offered us free space. The brothers owned a health food store at the corner of Second and Bank where Feleena’s is now. They gave us the upstairs of the store and keys so we could come and go outside of business hours. It was an astounding act of faith when I think back on it now. Liz and I and our many volunteers trooped up and down those stairs at all hours, past bins of fruits, vegetables and delicious baked goods. They trusted us not to rob them blind or to leave the door open after we left. On deadline day, we often worked until midnight; when hunger struck, we would raid the bakery case, leaving money for samosas and other delicacies for Inder when he came in the next day.
We needed a permanent space though. Within a few months, we were able to negotiate a small room off the main hall of the Glebe Community Centre. Our temptation then became The Pantry. It was all we could do to remain working when Ilse Kyssa started firing up her homemade soup and muffins for the day. Ilse was ahead of her time in her knowledge and respect for organic and vegetarian foods. I still use many of the recipes she contributed to the Glebe Report each month.
The Glebe Report in those days hired high school and university students to run the two summer issues. They were fine papers and the kids often went on to become journalists or writers. I think of Alfred Holden, who is now Sunday “Ideas” editor of the Toronto Star. Alfred edited my first summer issue when he was sixteen or seventeen and he stayed on to help until he began studies in journalism at Carleton University.