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Clearwater Sun memories | Readers respond

Clearwater Sun was part of the family

Debbie and Don Ford met in 1990 through an ad that ran in the Friend Finder during the final days of the Clearwater Sun.


Debbie and Don Ford met in 1990 through an ad that ran in the Friend Finder during the final days of the Clearwater Sun.


This week we asked you to send us your favorite memories of the Clearwater Sun, whose old building is being demolished. Here are your highlights:

In May of 1990, I met my husband through an ad in the Clearwater Sun's Friend Finder.

I actually thought it wouldn't happen because I mailed the answer to his ad on the same day the paper issued its final edition. I figured no more letters would be forwarded after that, but I was wrong. He did receive my response.

We had our first date on May 29, 1990, and were married on Nov. 10, 1990. Our son was born on our fifth anniversary and we will soon be celebrating 18 years together. It just goes to show our match was meant to be.

Debbie Ford, Clearwater

• • •

When I was a boy in the late 1950s the coolest thing was to have a Clearwater Sun paper route.

If you hustled you could make some serious money. But I opted for delivering fresh eggs around my neighborhood from "Mrs.Firebend's Fresh Eggs Dairy,'' which was located off U.S. 19 at the time. The eggs were placed in my twin bicycle baskets (and) experienced some bouncing and jarring before they arrived at the homes of the little dears who placed their trust in me. Most of the eggs cracked and ended up in my mother's icebox in glasses half filled with water.

I always thought my business career would have gotten off to a less shaky start had I started it with that darn Clearwater Sun paper route. I'm not too nostalgic to see the 1950s building go down. As a historian I can point to the first two Sun buildings which are still standing. The original 1914 building survives at Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue, and the 1940s building on Garden Avenue, one block north of Drew Street, is still around.

As for the Tick Tock lounge, besides Clearwater Sun reporters hashing over local stories, there were more than a few Sanders-Dimmitt Cadillac employees to be found there at one minute after 5 and a few at noon on any given day. Working as a salesman at the time I occasionally had to track the used car appraiser down for a signature to complete the transaction. The first place I'd look was at the Tick Tock lounge.

Mike Sanders, Clearwater

• • •

In 1955, 1956, and 1957 I had an after-school paper route along with several other school kids. I was 12 years old at the time.

Bob (?) was the circulation manager. We delivered papers Monday through Friday, did our own account collections on Saturday and delivered papers on Sunday morning. Some kids stood on the corner of Fort Harrison and Cleveland Street and hawked papers. The cost of a paper was 5 cents.

Vicky Christman Van Schenck, Tarpon Springs

• • •

When I was at Clearwater High School, I worked for the Clearwater Sun as a "stringer" reporting on school news. This was in the pre e-mail 1960s so my columns had to be typed and turned in at the building you are reporting was just torn down. My editor there was a Dunedin High School student, Helen Huntley (now, of course, the Times' personal finance editor). It was a great experience and I went on to U of F journalism school and a career in advertising.

Sue Gottscho, Ozona


After reading about the Sun building being torn down, local activist Lois Cormier found a Sun story written about her on Nov. 5, 1977. The headline read: "The Snooper at City Hall.''

It was all about Cormier riding around town on her yellow Schwinn handing out leaflets about upcoming meetings and investigating issues such as how many trees were cut down to build a parking lot.

"I received numerous phone calls and letters after the Sun story," Cormier wrote in a note this week. "One was from Connie Marquardt who wrote on it 'An uncommon snooper for the common good.' Connie has passed away, but memories remain of her active years in Clearwater.''

• • •

It started back in 1958. "Manter's Double Paces St. Cecelia's to Victory," the headline screamed.

Twelve years later, one year after graduating from the University of South Florida, I gave up my trainee position with JC Penney at Sunshine Mall, forsaking my retail management career to join the sports staff of the Clearwater Sun.

Mike O'Keeffe had a hand in my hiring, and I shall always have him to thank for my $80/week salary. Quite a bit less than JC was paying me, but I sensed an opportunity to do what I really wanted to do — write sports.

Bill Currie was the sports editor, Ed Haver took care of golf and bowling. O'Keeffe was the prep editor. Tom Keyser wrote a lot of local features. I did a bit of everything. Dave Terhaar was the youngster of the staff, filling the gaps. We all took a turn at laying out pages and writing headlines.

I remember watching with amazement as the Sun was put together using hot lead type, soon to disappear from sight in the newspaper industry. I survived getting up at 3 in the morning, wandering into the sports department and gently getting all the sports news off the AP wire, tearing machine-punched paper tape into stories, encircling the small bundle with a rubber band and carrying all the news to Haver's desk.

… I felt privileged to cover the Clearwater Bombers and their 1972 trip to the National Tournament in Dallas. At the end of the regular season, I was allowed to suit up for a doubleheader against a team from St. Petersburg, played third base, batted in a run and hit the ball fair in three of my four at bats.

… Being in the shadow of the Times was always a challenge for us. We covered upper Pinellas County well, not trying to go head-to-head with the newspaper destined to become one of the best in the nation. I am thankful and proud to say that my years with the Sun were incredible and so special. A few years later, the Times' Clearwater office was built, putting the Sun building also in the Times' growing shadow.

Ironically, I would join the Times advertising staff in 1978, helping to slowly defeat the Sun's advertising dominance in the Clearwater area.

… The building might have disappeared under a cloud of dust, but there are a bunch of players from the '60s and '70s who have the Clearwater Sun to thank for piles of memories.

One sunset that'll never be forgotten.

Tom Manter, Hartwell, Ga.

• • •

My twin brother, Stephen, and I literally grew up at the Clearwater Sun. Our mom was Alice McKenzie, a Clearwater Sun 27-year newsroom veteran.

Steve and I tagged along when she interviewed Indian chiefs, circus performers, orchestra leaders and city of Clearwater business leaders. We attended every local concert and Audubon Society film and lecture presented in the former Clearwater Junior High School auditorium. She oftentimes quoted us in her articles and reviews.

… I began my own newspaper career at the Sun on Myrtle Avenue in 1963 when I was 15 and hired into the proofreading department. I proofed throughout high school. The department was upstairs and proofreaders would send galley proofs via pneumatic tubes to the downstairs composing room. I would receive the corrected proofs back, along with candy bars and notes from pressmen asking me for dates.

I remember former local owner Wally Zschach wandering throughout the newsroom; Reinie Rogers reviewing his record albums and driving his little red Sunbeam convertible; James Beardsley signing his editorials as "Colonel Clearwater"; circulation director Bob Brady appearing in the newsroom offering many, many tips for news stories; Charlotte Pickering managing the "Society" section; Bill Currie running the sports department; Steve Douglass working at the city desk; the photographers always flirting; Doug Storer marking the type in composing; sales rep Theresa "T" Smiley wearing a different hat each day to match her outfit; and most especially, my mom bantering with Bill Scales, Terry Plumb and Al Hutchison, who fondly referred to her as "Grumpy Alice."

… There was no nepotism policy at the Sun. There were multiple families employed and each one contributed greatly to the success of this daily afternoon newspaper. I remember the Yettaw family having several family members spread throughout various departments. I heard stories of how people cared about one another at the paper — during World War II, if an employee served in the war, his chair would be tipped to rest on his desk until his return; business manager Paul Harris (a 50-plus year employee who believed everyone should save 10 percent of his income) being so proud that the Clearwater Sun published every day without fail and on a particular day when the presses broke down, he took press plates to the Tampa Tribune so that the Sun could publish that day (this was years and years ago).

My most precious memory at the Sun, however, was when I fell in love at first sight with a handsome young man named Bob Shackton, who was then the Sun's dispatch manager and a display advertising sales representative. He didn't know it at the time, but he was definitely going to marry me.

I went on to work at the Sun for 10 years in the society section and then as a teletypist. Bob worked 25 years as a sales executive. The remainder of my 35-year newspaper career was spent at the St. Petersburg Times. Bob also spent several years at the Times until his retirement.

… Bob and I have been married 41 years, have three sons — Tom, Tim and Bill — and nine grandchildren. This newspaper will always occupy special spots in our hearts. This personal journey of ours all began at the Clearwater Sun!

Cathy (McKenzie) Shackton, Dunedin

Clearwater Sun was part of the family 05/23/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 25, 2008 10:59am]
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