Monday, February 8, 2010

John Matuszak, senior correspondent Bexley Public Radio says "farewell" to Bexley.

This is a difficult goodbye to write. It ends 14 years of reporting on Bexley and the eastside communities through print and radio, 14 years of friendships and memorable moments with countless numbers of people.

I came to Columbus from Athens, Ohio, to work for Associated Press, and after that nine-month assignment ended, I was hired as the managing editor and eastside editor for the Columbus Messenger. Because of the reputation of the schools, the attractive location, the library, the Drexel, Capital University, Johnson's ice cream, and everything else Bexley has to offer, my wife and I decided to buy a house and raise our daughter here.

At the paper I immediately started meeting the remarkable people who call this area home. One of my first encounters was with David Bott, a local musician who regaled me with the tale of the vacation he and his wife, Cathy, had taken to California. Through a friend, they romped, unescorted, through a Hollywood backlot and were hired as extras for "Mr. Wrong," a movie starring Ellen D.G.neres. It mad a great feature story (although on the front page I mistakenly placed a photo of the Botts dressed as Mexican bandits next to a story about renovations to the Whitehall jail).

Later, on a trip to New Orleans, the Botts drove through the tiny burg of Bexley, Miss., the only town in the U.S. to share a name with the suburb. Our paper ended up bringing the unofficial mayor of Bexley, Miss., Carolyn Nicholson, to meet the official Mayor David Madison during the Fourth of July festivities. She even rode in the parade and won a trophy.

This is to give you an idea of how much fun this job has been, meeting the artists, activists, elected officials, educators and others who contribute to their communities and the world. There have been so many of those "Wow, I get paid for doing this" moments, from meeting Ralph Charles, at 99 the world's oldest licensed pilot (two months before David Letterman interviewed him, to riding in a 1927 biplane with Amelia Earhart's cousin.

I was able to sound off in columns as "The Gas Man's Son," sometimes indulging my alleged sense of humor.

I got to know author and Bexley native Bob Greene, his talented sister and mother, D.G. Fulford and Phyllis Greene. There were my friends at the JCC and Gallery Players, Cassandra Tellier at Capital's Schumacher Gallery, the people at the Far East Pride Center - the list is endless.

Of course there were the "I get paid for doing this?" times during long meetings as part of the Blue Butt Brigade. But it has always been a privilege to bring the news to residents.

After my stint with the Messenger ended, I can't express enough gratitude to Kurt Weiland for allowing me to continue to report and stay in touch through Bexley Public Radio, to write for the blog and to indulge my latent interest in broadcasting. I think Bexley Public Radio is a tremendous asset and it will only get better and continue to grow - with community support.

I will be writing and editing for the Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph, Mich.. It is a vibrant community and popular summer lakeside resort in the southwest corner of the state, 90 miles from Chicago and 30 miles from South Bend, Ind. You may see occasional dispatches from me on the cultural scene.

There is a young man in the H-P newsroom who worked for the Dispatch a few years ago. He fondly recalls attending screenings at the Drexel, lamenting that St. Joseph doesn't have an art cinema.

I am looking forward to my move, but I am reminded even there that Bexley truly is a special place to live. It needs all of you to keep it special.

John Matuszak


Phyllis Greene said...

John, I just read your "Farewell to Bexley" article, and I am saddened that your are leaving Bexley. You have been a great "voice" for this great little city, and a great advocate. I appreciate your kindnesses to me--and Bob and D.G. Good luck, and enjoy life in St. Joseph. A summer resort! That is something Bexley never could be. Sincerely, Phyllis Greene

D G Fulford said...

Oh, John !!! I can't wait to read what you write about this special place as it becomes Shangra-La in your mind....It is kind of Shangra-la-ish and Brigadoonish with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Three ( hundred ) cheers for you -- working in newpapering ! -- and big hugs for the friendship and support. Hate to hear you're moving, glad to know it is to a newspaper, and thanks for being here all this time. XX