I joined a few other folks at the end of July and went back to my roots.
The journalism program at Morrisville State College turned 50 years old this year, and fortunately, retired professor Brian McDowell fought hard to celebrate the occasion. And he wasn’t even around at the start. No, that was a department head by the name of Jerry Leone what had enough foresight to begin a program for writers, photographers and radio people at a two-year agricultural and technical college in the heart of rural New York.
Big Jer passed away last year after battling pancreatic cancer with a smile on his face. He said his blood type was also his attitude. B-positive, his beloved wife Barb told us this special weekend. God bless him.
Brian knew this party, this gathering of students who shared the Morrisville journalism bloodline and Big Jer’s heart over a half-decade, had to happen.
Even after the administration told him in March that it no longer intended to follow up on the original plans to pay for half the administrative costs and lend staff for the work to contact alumni, fellow original prof Neal Bandlow told us in his speech in the final get-together of the Saturday of the event. So Brian’s wife and daughter became his 50th anniversary planning staff. And Barb Leone footed the bill for the postage costs to reach the alumni.
And it happened, with people coming from that first class and other people coming from classes of this era.
That made the two-hour seminar about Fake News quite special, indeed.
The four-person panel up front was full of informed and informative facts and opinions.
And the full-house crowd in the Lab Class building – OK, now it’s Crawford Hall, but I’ll defer to the more generic name they hung on the brick building when they built the thing and opened it for my second year at the college in August, 1976 – participated in a lively debate of back and forth, questions and answers, liberal and conservative, wondering and speculating about the present and future of journalism in this country.
As for my contribution, my voice rose with passion when somebody talked about the high annual subscription cost of his local daily. Break it into the weekly figure, I said, and consider if that’s worth it to you to support local journalism in your part of the world. I no longer work for the big daily, but ink still runs through my veins, I find out regularly.
Hover over a gallery photo for a description. Click on an image for an enlarged slide show.
I appreciated my full day on the Madison County campus some 35 miles southeast from A Bitty Better in the Liverpool neighborhood of Galeville.
It started out with lunch with a table of friends at The Fort on Route 20. I declared something amiss with the sign put up advertising a Silver anniversary celebration for the bar/restaurant this first week of August. Do I not remember us drinking here my second year of college in 1976-77, I asked Nancy and Frank? They assured me I was correct.
It included a fantastic barbecue dinner in Seneca Dining Hall. Three cheers for the pulled pork! Afterward, folks broke off for class photos outside. There were four of us representing the class of 1977 in this, our 40th anniversary year. Nancy Cardillo, Mike Landhauer, Mike Dart and I pulled in Frank Eltman, the sole rep from 1978, for our show with Neal. He hung out with us all the time our one intersecting year, of course. That’s the way the journalism program worked. That’s why everybody is still so tight.
Thank you, Brian, for all you did to make this happen for Big Jer’s memory.