The Sun — launched a century earlier in Oklahoma Territory — published Tuesday through Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings. It had a daily circulation of roughly 10,000 (I don’t recall the exact figure).
I made $5 an hour working on Saturdays. I did some proofreading. I wrote a few weekend stories. I perused the Associated Press and New York Times wires. This was before the internet, and I loved seeing the news the day before everybody else read it on newsprint.
A journalism major, I imagined what it would be like to write for a wire service or big paper and file important stories with datelines from near and far.
I returned to the Sun as a full-time staff writer reporting on police/fire news and higher education from December 1991 to May 1993.
At the suburban paper north of Oklahoma City, I covered car wrecks, murders and university regents meetings. I covered a campaign stop by the first President Bush at Oklahoma Christian. I covered a news conference where I asked Vice President Dan Quayle a question.
I covered a hometown parade for Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller and a homecoming concert by native Oklahoman Garth Brooks. I covered a highly competitive congressional race after the eight-term incumbent got caught up in Rubbergate, the House banking scandal. I covered the return home to Edmond of FBI special agent and lead spokesman Bob Ricks after the Waco inferno.
I always regretted how my time with the Sun ended.
The Sun was in a newspaper war with The Oklahoman, the statewide daily that had an Edmond zoned section three days a week. I wanted to work at The Oklahoman, which then had a circulation over 300,000 on Sundays. The Oklahoman also had a shiny, 12-story glass office tower and many more resources than the Sun.
When The Oklahoman offered me a job covering Edmond with a 50% pay raise, the decision was easy for me. The decision was even easier when I confirmed there’d be no health insurance gap (my wife, Tamie, was seven months pregnant with our first child, Brady).
I don’t know what I expected the Sun to do when I put in my two-weeks notice. Publisher Ed Livermore tried to persuade me that The Oklahoman didn’t want me so much as they were trying to get to him. I told him I had a pregnant wife and a family to support and would let them use me. Managing Editor Carol Hartzog, who hired me, was always a supportive and encouraging boss. But she gave me a box and 30 minutes to clear out my things.
There was a newspaper war, after all.
This past Saturday night, more than 29 years later, I joined a large group of Sun employees, including Livermore and Hartzog, at a reunion to celebrate the legacy of a newspaper that no longer exists. It closed two years ago.
Everyone got to hold the microphone and tell what the Sun meant to them. I reflected on how much the experience I gained at the Sun meant in my future endeavors — at The Oklahoman, The Associated Press and The Christian Chronicle.
As a young journalist, I probably was too focused on the next step. I never took the time to appreciate fully the value of that year and a half at the Sun in the early 1990s.
I feel so blessed that I got the opportunity to do so Saturday night and to hear the stories of so many other people — in news, advertising, production and other departments — whose vital work sustained the Sun for more than a century.
Featured image via Shutterstock
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A few reunion photos
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More clips from my time with the Sun