It all started with a red dress!

By Tony D'Imperio
Clarion Mt. Morris Editor

I was shocked, fumbling for words when Clarion Publisher Corrin Strong phoned on Monday, telling me that the newspaper is closing and this would be the last issue! Corrin invited me to write this final reflection.
Even before I moved back to Mount Morris, I read the Clarion Newspaper when I visited with my late mother, a Mount Morris resident and a subscriber.
I grew up in Mount Morris, had a career as a teacher and school principal with the Greece Central School District for nearly 30 years, then took early retirement. My wife Louise and I moved from Greece, NY into our Mount Morris house in December, 1998---back to my roots.
In Corrin Strong's December 10, 1998 column entitled “Ya'all come now,” he announced that “next Thursday we will be having our annual Christmas Party. We haven't found the time to send out formal invitations just yet, but please consider yourself invited.”
“Pretty women are invited to attend, especially if you're single. I'm almost single myself now, and this could be part of something big. For maximum impact, please wear a red dress!”
My sister, Carol Mixon, Louise and I---three new people, strangers to the area and not above being playful---thought that there would be some shock value and fun if the women wore red dresses and attended the party.
It worked! Corrin Strong was speechless (As you know, it doesn't happen often.) for a few minutes, and his face turned as red as the dresses; the shy part of him kicked in! We introduced ourselves to Corrin, and as the evening unfolded, conversation becoming more comfortable.
I asked him why the Mount Morris Page of the Clarion didn't have a columnist/reporter any longer. He said that no one has come forth since the last person left.
I told Corrin that I had both an aptitude for and enjoyment of writing, and I believed that there could be more representation of Mount Morris on its Clarion Page. He agreed, and getting the hint, asked me to send him a sample of my writing. The rest is history!
In the column named “By a Dam Site”, I entitled my first piece “I've returned to my roots,” in which I introduced myself. Averaging one article a week in a little over eight years, I've written nearly 400 pieces---both features and news reports---with the intent of 'promoting' Mount Morris: looking for the good things that happen here and working to offset a reputation that is often undeserved.
Many Mount Morris people have called me directly to let me know of some event that I might want to 'cover.' To them, I say thanks; you've extended my eyes and ears.
Corrin Strong was always favorable to my being a self-starter; of finding stories through my own initiative. I don't recall any of my pieces ever being rejected or edited---maybe a recommended headline here and there.
Former Clarion Reporter Howard Appell was always appreciative of my work; he supplied perspective on topics and taught me journalism rules. Beth Emley and I communicated well on fitting Mount Morris into her weekly news list.
Graphic Artist Kevin McGarvey, with his superlative computer skills, was always friendly, courteous, cooperative and patient, helping me with his computer wizardry when my e-mail texts or photos didn't 'go through.'
And then there's Office Manager Vera Gleason: Without her, phone messages would probably go unattended and subscribers wouldn't get their newspapers. Plus, she's got a great sense of humor!
Finally, I thank those readers of my articles who took the time to compliment my work.

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