Retirement from the Newspaper: One Year Later

First Missourian picture 04-18-63Time sure does move quickly. My first newspaper photograph was published April 18, 1963, on the front page of The Southeast Missourian.

The day before, my high school earth science teacher, Ernie Chiles, and I had stumbled upon this crash moments after it had happened.

After taking the pictures, I called the principal at home and talked  him into giving me the master key for the high school so I could open up the darkroom to process the film.

1965 Southeast Missourian Editor John L. BlueThe next morning, bright and early, I went in to see John Blue, editor of my hometown paper. He knew my name from letters to the editor I had written, but this was the first time I had ever met him.

That afternoon, when I showed up to pick up my bundle of papers for my afternoon paper route, my pictures, with a byline were leading the front page.

The next day a check for $10 showed up in the mail.

Fame. Fortune. I was hooked

JBlue hooked me harder than a pusher behind an elementary school.

Where did the time go?

The next thing you know, you’ve put college behind you, worked at The Jackson (MO) Pioneer, The Southeast Missourian (MO), The Athens (OH) Messenger, The Gastonia (NC) Gazette and The Palm Beach Post and Evening Times.

I wrote this to a Telecom group several years ago:

Murderer Phillip Odell Clark holds newsboy hostage In Cape Girardeau MOI’ve covered race riots in Illinois, anti-war protests in Ohio and Washington, D.C., a truckers’ strike in Alabama, the gas shortage in Detroit, a blizzard in Indiana, Ku Klux Klan rallies in three states and the Cuban Boatlift.

I’ve attempted to cover, with little success, the landfall of at least 13 hurricanes. (Unfortunately, four of them have found my house in the last few years.)

On the other hand, I’ve also been to a thousand Kiwanis club plaque presentations, 40-million fender-benders and several hundred bridal showers. I still get nostalgic for the smell of teargas in the springtime.

Then, it’s all over

Ken Steinhoff walks out of Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc. after 35 yearsThen, after 35 years working at Palm Beach Newspapers, Inc., as a staff photographer, director of photography, editorial operations manager and telecommunications manager, you’re walking out the door for the last time.

It’s been a year since that door slammed behind me.

Do I miss it?

Not in the slightest. Twenty years ago, when I let the job define who I was, then it would have been hard. When an opportunity arose to take early retirement in 2008, I was ready.

I have to admit a little twinge the first time I went back to visit my old staff and had a visitor pass stuck on my shirt.

I’m going to bed

I had planned to pull together a batch of favorite pictures taken over the last 12 months: the trip to Vegas where I spoke at a telecom conference; pictures around Cape; stuff shot on the bike (and OFF the bike); our trip to New Mexico to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary; shots of Grandson Malcolm getting bigger.

Then, I realized that being retired means that I can just go to bed if I want to. You’ll get to see those pictures later.

Lila and Ken Steinhoff in Cape Girardeau, MO

13 Replies to “Retirement from the Newspaper: One Year Later”

  1. Lovely tale – what a great way to get started! Hey – typo there Ken – “telecommunications manger”. Best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

  2. Gary,

    Noted and corrected. Thanks. That’s one of those words that I mistyped a gazillion times. And, because manger is a perfectly good word, spell check doesn’t catch it.

    The editor of The Voice Report tells me that telecom managers mangle that word on a regular basis.

  3. Congratz, Ken.

    Since I’m a geezer too, I had the luxury to retire a couple weeks in front of you.

    I had worried about it, but a friend of mine who I’ve kept up with since childhood gave me some excellent advice.

    He retired a few years ago and imparted this: “In three weeks you won’t even remember you worked there.”

    Hard to believe, but he was right. I don’t miss it, don’t think about it, and don’t care. The world of journalism I knew no longer exists.

    I still care about good journalism and read it when I can find it (and there is plenty of it out there), but I’m afraid the days of your local newspaper producing it on any kind of regular basis are gone.

    Not that I did a hell of a job, Chuckie, but I was lucky to have worked with lots of people who did. Now lots of people no longer do it and have not been replaced.

    I look forward to when my iPhone will be piping lots of good local and regional journalism directly to my brain, but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. Keef,

    How did you KNOW you were retired?

    You, even more than me, had a job where nobody knew exactly what you did, but they figured it must be important, so they left you alone.

  5. I loved the photos of you had of the Missourian. They brought back memories. When I was at The Charlotte News, everybody had a paste pot on their desk and moved paragraphs around by tearing and pasting. And the hot metal shop — when I went to Memphis, they were still hot metal but getting ready to go offset. I remember seeing guys in the composing room making up pages. One morning, one of the guys turned over the little cart the moved the metal pages on (was it a turtle or a frog or something like that?) and spilled the page all over the floor.
    Brings back memories. I miss it sometimes, but sometimes I don’t.

  6. My first two papers were hot type. They taught me how to set type on a Linotype at my first one. I was lousy at it. Got more squirts than slugs. I WAS able to set headline type with some degree of competence.

    ETAOIN SHRDLU: I was just talking about that tonight with my family. That’s the first row of keys on a Linotype. If a typesetter wanted to fill out a slug, he’d rake his fingers across those keys.

    One day I walked in and the editor said, “The engraver just quit. You’re the new engraver.” You have to understand that I was a high school kid working part-time who had WATCHED the engraving process, but I had never done it.

    Two papers later, I sort of mentioned my engraving experience on my resume and was told that I would be in charge of engraving AND photo. I was all of 22 at the time.

    I assured the old engraver (who was at least twice my age) that this was only going to be a temporary thing. I’d make it clear as soon as I could that I needed to devote all my energies to photo.

    Yes, the rolling cart that held the pages was called a turtle. The type was held in a frame. When it hit the floor it was “pied” or jumbled.

    Those old backshop guys had high standards. It still drives me crazy to see widow and orphan lines in the paper. That would never have happened in even the small town shops I worked in.

    I wonder what the New Content Creators are going to be nostalgic over.

  7. MP,

    I guess that makes me an OLD content creator.

    I don’t know if I lived in the Golden Age of Newspapers, but I was there when the emphasis was on the news part and not so much the gold part.

  8. Should I feel uncomfortable because Google Ads just paired my last comment with an ad for the Neptune Society, the outfit that does cremations?

    Those Google folks have been looking at my medical records again.

  9. I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I’ll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your website?

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