Ed Shannon says farewell to readersPublished 8:36am Friday, December 30, 2011
Column: Between the Corn Rows
As Sarah Stultz reported in her excellent article about my retirement from the Tribune, this is my last column. It happens to be number 1410. Also, as mentioned at the end of my more recent columns, this part of the newspaper has been in every Friday edition for the last 27 years, with just three exceptions. Two of the exceptions were based on the columns appearing in Sunday issues, The third came about when I was in a Rochester hospital and unable to contribute a column for that particular week.
However, as Sarah’s article clearly indicated, I’ve been a part of the Tribune’s staff for more than 27 years. It’s actually 27 years and four months.
The editor of the Tribune was Jim Oliver when I became a member of the staff. After a few months I asked him if I could write a weekly column. After all, other newsroom folks were writing weekly columns. My suggested title was “Rip Snorter Ramblings.” I even gave him several sample columns.
Jim said there wasn’t an opening for a new daily column on the editorial pages. Besides, he added that the columns by staff members at the time had the title of “It’s Our Turn.”
My turn came a few months later and my first column in the Tribune appeared on Dec. 21, 1984.
This was like a real initiation into the newsroom gang. Incidentally, the “It’s Our turn” title for my Friday contributions to the editorial pages ended with the Aug. 16, 1985, issue. That’s about the time Jim left the Tribune to became the editor of a newspaper in Indiana. My columns continued on without a title until a few years ago when the “Between the Corn Rows” label was conceived.
In Sarah’s article I was quoted as thanking the late Bidney Bergie and Kevin Savick, plus the Freeborn County Historical Museum for their cooperation with research, suggestions and photos to make the various columns and articles possible. To this I’d like to add Linda Evenson of the museum staff and so many other fine folks who have been so helpful in so many ways through the years.
As mentioned earlier, this is column 1410. Also, since Aug., 6, 1984, I’ve written 3,517 byline articles and taken at least 2,677 photos to go with those articles or as stand-alone contributions. The byline means my name was on the article as the author. There were also more photos and shorter news items based on law enforcement reports, marriages and divorces, building permits (city and county) and local/regional activities.
I’ve been asked several times to indicate my favorite article or column during the past 27-plus years. As the totals in the previous paragraph indicate, there could be several choices. However, I’ll conclude with just one choice based on the name of Wittmer.
In the fall of 1984 I became aware of a rather unusual artistic mural on the wall above a stairway in the home of Marvin and Daphne Wittmer northeast of Conger. This painting was created for Marvin’s grandfather, Henry Wittmer, in 1905 by a still unknown artist. I took a black and white photo and wrote an article. This article was picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted by several area newspapers.
I also became aware of the story of Henry Wittmer who came to Freeborn County as an immigrant in 1872 from the Waldeck region of central Germany. He went back to the homeland in 1879 and persuaded 42 friends and relatives to come back to Freeborn County with him. With help from Cathy Wittmer, of rural Conger, I was able to create several articles based on these German-Americans.
Marvin died in February 2002. His wife, Daphne, now lives in Albert Lea. The Wittmer home had new owners by December 2007.
One day that month I stopped at the place and the owners, Kevin and Barbara Marshall, gave me permission to do an update on the mural. A super-great photo was taken by staff photographer Brie Cohen.
Sadly, the Wittmer/Marshall home was almost destroyed and the mural was damaged to some degree by the June 17, 2010, tornado. However, Kevin managed to salvage the mural and gave it to the Freeborn County Historical Museum. I did an update on the mural for the Sept. 25, 2010, issue.
This survivor of the tornado is now in one of the village buildings at the fairgrounds, framed and covered in Plexiglas, ready for future exhibition in the new museum addition.
Now it’s time to do something else. To the fine Tribune readers and staff, I say farewell.
With just three exceptions, Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984. His column still appeared on those weeks, but on different days. The Tribune will miss him.
Come on by
The Albert Lea Tribune invites readers to attend an open house on Ed Shannon’s behalf from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 6 at the newspaper office. Shannon will be there to meet and greet readers.