It's been fun!

by Terry Proctor
Clarion sports staff

When Corrin called on Monday to tell me that this would be the last issue of the Clarion I naturally assumed he was preparing for this year's edition of the Blarion. But alas, this is no joke and to paraphrase Strother Martin as Joe McGrath in the classic hockey movie “Slapshot,” we must tell you, “This is the last issue of the Clarion, it'll be announced when the subscribers get this issue.”
It's been a lot of fun for these past 18 years. My first column was supposed to appear in the premiere issue of the Clarion but I was bumped for some unknown reason. The column did appear in the second issue and I've tried to entertain and inform you with my meanderings for lo these many years.
Working for one place for 18 years brings lots of memories, good and bad. The people I've worked with, the events I've covered, the stories I've told have all been very special to me. Corrin asked me to write this wrap up column. So this won't be about any one topic. I thought I'd share some memories of almost two decades working for this newspaper.
As probably you will read elsewhere in this week's issue the impetus for starting the Clarion came about when the old Livonia Gazette was dying a slow death at the hands of the erstwhile Publisher Rick Gagliano.
It was at this time Bob Savage had the idea to begin a new local newspaper that really cared about the towns in Northern Livingston County. And so the Clarion was born.
Our first few years were spent in the basement of the WYSL studios. In addition to writing sports I also wrote the community column for Livonia. I thank Elnora Teed for taking that over. I also became the “gofer” for Bob and Corrin.
Many times I'd be called upon to run into the Southtown Plaza area to pick up toner cartridges for a copier or to stop at Staples or Office Depot for this or that. Then there was the cold winter day that Bob asked me to do an errand at the head office of Wyoming County Bank in Warsaw. Pulling out of the parking lot a man skidded on the ice and ran into my car causing damage to the fender. That car “took one for the Clarion.”
For a lot of years until the Clarion moved to Avon I would visit the Avon Post Office each morning to pick up the mail for WYSL and the Clarion. And for about five years I would ride to the printers in Canandaigua as the late John Woolston drove my Escort wagon to pick up the newest Clarion.
On Routes 5 & 20 we would invariably get behind a truck hauling straw to Finger Lakes Race Track. You couldn't pass them so you just had to deal with it. But we always got the papers back on time. John was a very interesting person and I'm glad I got to know him, both personally and professionally. We all miss him.
As far as sports, if I seemed too loyal to Livonia for some of you folks, well, it is my alma mater. And being involved with the teams since 1961 you're going to be a little biased.
I was able to see Livonia win sectionals in just about every sport. I was there when Steve Girolmo's football team played at Rich Stadium. And who can forget the magical 1991 basketball season that saw the Bulldogs go to the finals in Glens Falls?
Reading about Kyle Downey going to Glens Falls with Fairport this past weekend brought back memories. Kyle was only 19 months old that year. How proud his dad Tom would have been to have seen him there. I'm sure Tom knows about it where he is.
The Downey women, Christa and mom Linda and the Livonia girls volleyball team won the state championship in 1996. And in 2000 Karen Schuster and her Lady Bulldogs went to Troy for the state Final Four. I got to go on all the team busses with each team. That was class!
I've also worked with some interesting individuals in our sports department: Doug Lippincott, Phil Livingston and recently Randy Barber. A big "Thank you!" also goes out to Debbie Tofany for taking photos for the Clarion. You guys all did yeoman work and it's been a privilege to know you.
In the office we had Paula Welch, Muff Hollinger and Vera Gleason. Vera has been here the longest of any of our office staff. She's a great lady and you tried to keep Corrin on his toes.
In our graphics department we had the incomparable original Valerie Mynter. At my suggestion Val put icicles on the banner of the ice storm issue in 1991. That copy is one of my prized possessions. Now it's Kevin McGarvey who shares my love of hockey and sports uniforms. One of the pieces that I'm the most proud of was the Blarion article about the Bills supposedly erecting a new stadium on the Avon traffic circle. The proposed “Corndome” brought a lot of laughs to everyone and I think that it may have given Pat Rountree the idea to pursue the Red Wings with the East Avon stadium idea.
The other article I want to mention is the one I wrote when Livonia basketball coach Tom Downey lost his battle with cancer in 2003. Because he was such a good friend and I knew Tom so well it was hard to write. But I tried to tell the story in a way that would have made Tom smile. He was a special person and we all miss him.
Bob Savage and I recently talked about the number of businesses that have closed since the Clarion started. There are too many to mention. But they point out just how much can change in 18 years. Some of today's youngsters never heard of Paul's at the Plaza or even Meyer Chevrolet or W.C. Becker Lincoln-Mercury. And children born in the last couple of years will never know about the Clarion. That's a pity.
Finally, to Corrin Strong. I know this was a tough decision to close down. But as the man says, “Nothing is forever.” You can be proud though that we tried to present a different view on the news and didn't always please everyone.
Some people just didn't appreciate or understand your sometimes irreverent takes on the issues. Those who did understand salute you. And the New York Press Association thought highly enough of The Clarion to give it many awards. So be proud of the total job we all tried to do. I therefore close this final Bulldog Barks column borrowing a quote from one of my favorite Presidents, Richard Milhouse Nixon. “You won't have The Clarion to kick around any more.” It's been fun, but I'm outta here!

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