When Judy Booe of Veedersburg surprised me with an invite to speak at the First Christian Church's Spring Fling mother-daughter banquet, I was delighted to say yes! The evening proved a trip down memory lane and a chance to reminisce with friends from the 1980s spent in Fountain County.
Following the lovely banquet, those with Fountain Central ties enjoyed gathering at Tom and Judy Booe's home to reminisce and laugh about the good old days. The joy of my book journey continues to be the memories made in renewing contact with so many wonderful people we've known throughout our lives. I didn't want the evening to end ...
And sure enough, it was about 12:30 a.m. before we rolled in back at home.
Then up and off for me to New Castle to attend the confirmation into St. James Episcopal Church of my friend and writing colleague, Stacey Torres. She was confirmed by The Right Rev. Jennifer Basketville-Burrows, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis -- the first African-American woman elected a diocesan bishop!
Then home ... and off again to the Mother-Daughter Banquet at my daughter-in-law's home church, Zion Evangelical Church of Christ in downtown Indy.
It's been a FULL but fully satisfying weekend. My gratitude to all involved.
When you climb the stairs, this marble-topped Victorian table that belonged to Grandma Jobe welcomes you. At right on the floor is a vase Brian bought his mother Mary long ago. He wanted to keep it and placed it here. I think it's the perfect spot. What's up with the rocking chair in Sam's photo? It's a reflection. The camera sees all, even when the photographer does not.
We replaced our sagging white bookcases (they're now garage shelving) with these black beauties from IKEA, at the suggestion of our daughter-in-law Allison. Part of our task in late winter and early spring was to edit our book collection. We donated more than 100 volumes; moved a lifetime collection of personal and Brian's career yearbooks downstairs to a doored cabinet, along with some text books he couldn't part with (although he did a great job of letting go of many). Special-edition books, such as signed author copies, those gifted to us by loved ones, and special ones for one reason or another, also went downstairs to our glass-front antique plantation-desk bookcase. It's full! But there's always room for one more. This bookcase also holds Brian's vinyl-record collection, lower left, and bunches of photo albums and scrapbooks. I'm in the process of covering and numbering in order the albums. I wanted to add some personality to the shelves so added career keepsakes for both of us. Brian said he always liked diplomas in their original folders so they went up too. The vintage fire extinguisher, right, is a unique gift from Brian's staff. Staffers signed it. The idea is that Brian "put out fires." It's been in his closet for several years and we thought it should come on out!
We needed the space to function more than only an office, but we needed that component too. Everything up here is a mixture of function, comfort, and heirlooms. Brian wanted to keep the desk. He and both our sons did their homework right there! Yes, it's pretty beat up, but it's in the "what we keep" department. The old chair gave out, and for now, we're using a dining room chair. Will likely buy another down the road with a spare to go where this little antique chair is now. The framed newspaper is a gift from one of Brian's building teachers who so thoughtfully found and framed a British newspaper from when Brian's dad landed there in World War II! He also included a picture of Brian's dad, Ray, from that time. What a gift! The little red chair was handed down in my family. I used to watch my favorite shows sitting in it, including the once-a-year showing of "The Wizard of Oz," and the weekly viewing of the original "Batman." I loved them both.
What I dig about this project is that it was Brian's idea! The space had been a repository for miscellaneous heirlooms, droopy overstocked bookcases, second-string sofa and loveseat for many years. We hadn't used it at all, basically, since the boys left home. It was their hangout for homework, entertaining, and video games. It took us quite a while this winter and spring to re-imagine. We wanted to make it our own personal space, editing out all the clutter, and filling it with comfortable seating, fully-loaded TV (cable, NetFlix, etc.), office area, Brian's vintage stereo equipment, and albums and important to me was a place to enjoy 150 years' worth of our families' paper trail of photos, special papers, and small heirlooms, tucked away neatly. I call the area Archives: Family Basket Cases. (Laugh! Even if you're family! It's suppose to be funny!) I also keep vacation keepsakes and photos in those baskets. We each picked out our own new recliners and had one recovered to match the coal-colored fabric in the other. The rocking chair is from Brian's family; the lamp tables from mine. The mirror spent all my growing-up years over a sofa in our home. It is reflecting a fan and drapes in the window on the opposite wall.
On the wall shared by the bookcases are Brian's 1976 stereo and turntable. The albums are out of view next to the turntable. Again, heirlooms are used. The cedar chest was my mother's "hope chest," refinished by Brian early in our marriage. The tiny table was made by Brian in "shop" class back in the day. The music stand comes in more handy than you know! Now I have room to leave it up and practice programs I write and give to women's groups. This spring I am debuting a new program for mother-daughter-banquets. It's about how we women are keepers -- of secrets, dreams, memories, mementos and of faith. Editing and re-imagining this room inspired the program.
Brian says we have "Ma and Pa chairs." We went for total comfort. The chairs and the carpet were our biggest expenses. The carpet is called "stone" and the chairs "coal." The previous carpet was a mess, and was also wrinkled. It had been through two teenage boys, their friends, and 14 years. It was time. But it was quite an effort to move everything downstairs, and the edited version of everything back up again.
Our "basket cases" are filled with 150 or more years' worth of various branches of our families' paper trails, old photos, vacation photos, and keepsakes, and more. I enjoy many trips down Memory Lane from these memory-filled baskets. Come visit our study and take in a movie with me. Or, we'll put up my folding table from behind the door and work on a project. I'm grateful for the space. Thanks for dropping by!
The following feature was recently published in the New Castle Courier-Times. It is my honor to share another story from our Greatest Generation.
by Donna Cronk
As one of the 16 million American veterans who returned from World War II, ready to restart their lives with jobs, marriages, families, and find a post-war normalcy, Forrest Owens resumed his life after serving with the U.S. Marines.
He became an electrician, married Mary, and started a family.
For 30-and-a-half years, he worked at Chrysler Corp. in New Castle, retiring in 1999. The Kentucky
native returned to his home state in 2017, and today, he and daughter Beverly reside together in
Grayson where they lead a quiet life.
Inside his storage bin are artifacts from a time that was anything but quiet. Among his honorable discharge and letters of commendation papers are two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a Blue Enamel Star, Asiatic Pacific Combat Ribbon with two gold stars, and the American Defense Metal.
Owens’ service included first-wave invasion of the brutal island battle of Iwo Jima, located 660 miles
south of Tokyo. He was a part of it for the first nine days, there when one of the most iconic moments
in U.S. military history was recorded as the American flag was raised on the island’s highest point.
During this intense five-week battle, 7,000 Marines lost their lives and another 20,000 were wounded. One of the wounded was Owens, who was sent home to recover.
When Owens, who will be 94 on April 26, was asked what it was like to be at Iwo Jima, the Marine
says that he “never thought a lot about it until recently.” He adds that in the last few years he realizes
“how happy I was (that) I was there and did this and saw this.”
Excitement over the flag
On day five of the battle, U.S. Marines took the highest point, Mount Suribachi, and raised the
American flag. Owens recalls someone saying, “Look at Old Glory on Hot Rock.” He says everyone
started yelling and carrying on with happiness over the sight. He didn’t see the Marines place the flag
but he said the flag was “just starting to wave” when he spotted it.
The battle continued, and on the ninth day, the Marines were in the process of taking the second
highest point. It was then that Owens was wounded when a grenade exploded and hit his mouth,
injuring it and taking out two teeth. But instead of being treated and sent back into battle as Owens
expected, he was shipped back to the U.S. to heal.
“I was wanting to stay,” Owens recalls. “I was hoping to get through that without (being) wounded.” He
also wanted to remain with his buddies, and had been promised a promotion following his effort at Iwo Jima. Yet at the same time, he was happy to survive and go home.
After all, this was his third war wound. Prior to Iwo Jima, he fought in Guam scouting out Japanese
positions. He had been trained for the job by learning how to fight in thick jungles with mud, heavy rain and 100-degree heat. One sergeant told him that his background as a Kentucky country boy would serve him well, adding, “It’s like squirrel hunting, except the squirrels shoot back.”
In Guam, he was wounded in the right shoulder by shrapnel, then when leaving the hospital following
treatment, wounded again, that time in the left hip. He recovered at Pearl Harbor, and months later,
was sent in with the first wave to Imo Jima.
Owens said landing on the island was rough because the amphibious tracked landing vehicles
carrying soldiers came under immediate fire. The landing vehicle next to his own exploded and men
inside it were killed and wounded.
“Hell on earth, the first day,” Owens describes. That day alone, his outfit lost five of eight officers –
including the captain. Of the 220 soldiers, 111 lost their lives.
On that day, he did a lot of praying and imagines that most of the soldiers did likewise. Owens
describes his nine days on the island as a time of intense fighting and death.
“I was scared all the time I was there,” says Owens. “All day and all night you expected to get hit.
People getting killed all the time. I was happy to make it through.”
But make it he did, and he remembers so much about the period that he could fill a book, not just a
Taking the island was significant, according to information from The National WWII Museum in New
Orleans, because securing it meant the island would provide emergency landing space for 2,200 B-29
bombers and save the lives of 24,000 U.S. airmen. It was important in the war effort to fight the largest
Pacific battle of World War II – the invasion of Okinawa.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz is quoted as saying, “Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon
valor was a common virtue.”
Wanted to be a Marine
Owens volunteered for service on his 18th birthday and joined the Marine Corps. He enlisted because
the war was going on. “Everybody was patriotic and all the young men wanted to go.” He wanted to
be a Marine due to the heroic strides they were making. “They were heroes and I wanted to be part of
Following his service, Owens married Mary, and the couple had five children: Allen Owens (wife Teresa) of New Castle; Terry (wife Beverly A.) Owens of Noblesville; Beverly S. Owens of Grayson, Kentucky; the late Darryel Owens, formerly of Houston, Texas; and the late Rickie Owens, previously of Shirley.
Both Darryel and Rickie are buried in Knightstown. During Forrest Owens’ years at Chrysler, the family
lived in Wilkinson. Mary passed in 1998.
Says Owens, the two-time World War II Purple Heart recipient, “I’m very proud of our veterans today,
our service people. I have a great honor for them.”
His daughter Beverly, a former Wilkinson resident, says her dad still drives, needs no home assistance,
gardens and until last year, kept bees. He still has three living brothers of five original, and two living
sisters of three.
His involvements include membership in the Shirley Masonic Lodge No. 531; Shriner’s Club in Shirley;
life member of the New Castle VFW; member of the Scottish Rite in Indianapolis, and member of the
Willard, Kentucky American Legion Post 342.
His daughter said he often speaks of the boys from all over the country whom he served with in the
service, including those who were lost in battle. She said he would enjoy hearing from old friends who
probably have lost track of him. Cards may be sent to Owens at 204 W. 2nd St., Grayson, Kentucky
“I’m very proud of him and I’m honored that he’s my dad,” says Beverly.
Did you ever wrap your school books in paper to make dust jackets? I never did. But daughter-in-law Allison did back in the day, and she came up with an inexpensive solution to organize our photo albums.
She suggested craft paper and numbers. So far today, with one done before church and two after church and lunch this afternoon (it's not even 2:30 p.m. yet), three are finished.
Through the decades I have taken lots of photos. We have about a dozen random photo albums. It's been a long time since I added albums but I do have envelopes full of photos from many different vacations, occasions and a whole lot more hiding in The Cloud from my cell phone.
But my dilemma at hand is: How to attractively organize and display the existing photo albums that display snapshots from our family's life -- literally -- from the 1970s through about 2010 when I stopped buying these.
I told Allison that I don't plan on scrapbooking these. You'll note the several scrapbooks I created for the boys in time for display at their high school graduations (at left). These are nicely done, as are some other specialty scrapbooks, including a This is Your Life for Brian's 50th and scrapbooks I created for Brian and his brother Steve of their father's World War II history.
But scrapbooking done "by the book" is labor intensive, expensive, and frankly, no longer anywhere on my to-do list. I also didn't want to buy new albums.
Allison's idea is ideal. I already have a big roll of the craft paper, cheap and plentiful if I need more, rolls of excellent-quality postal tape, and I picked up some numbers. Starting with the first album of photos from high school (number 1), and going through the years in order, I'll number the photo albums and place them back on the bottom of our new bookcases.
Our progress in completing the space I think of as our new study is on hold at the moment as we need to buy two more bookcases, move our vinyl records upstairs for placement on the bottom row of one new bookcase, wait for our new chairs to arrive, select a lamp and throw rug to hide the cord, and then--I'll show you the end result.
I have a little patch of free time this afternoon so I'll get two or three more of these albums covered and numbered, and work on the rest as I can.
I searched Pinterest for ideas on storing and organizing family photos and nothing much resonated. Allison's idea is the best solution by far that works for our situation.
And, I've had a chance to walk down memory lane as I've worked on these. Right now, I'm in the 1980s. Here's one of me while managing editor at the Attica newspaper, now the county-wide Fountain County Neighbor.
Next are a couple photos I took when I had the opportunity to accompany some kids from Attica Elementray School go see President Ronald Reagan arrive at the Purdue University Airport, and give a speech.
It was exciting for this small-town reporter. Welcome to my 1980s...
Along with the President, center, do you recognize the white-haired gentleman? That is Indiana Gov. Robert Orr. I had the opportunity to attend a meeting accompanying two community activists make their case for prohibiting an explosives detonation company from locating in the county. I got to sit inside Gov. Orr's office with them and write about the meeting for an exclusive. X-plo-Tech was defeated by the community's will. Sue Barnhizer Anderson and I won a second-place state journalism award for our coverage.
Back to 2019. (Is that even possible?)
What I would like to know is how YOU store and display your family photos and in particular, what about all your random family photos stashed in albums like mine?
Donna Cronk Photo /// I know. But hey, don't judge! We're under construction up here in the "bonus" room." I captured this image right before the new light-gray carpet went down. It takes some creativity to work around those crawl-space plugs, but we're up for the challenge. Will show you the results in a few weeks.
I’ve been slacking in the blogging department lately. It seems that too many other projects have been demanding attention. I’m not complaining; they are all positive uses of time.
As you might surmise from the photo above, we’re in the midst of redoing our “bonus” room upstairs in our house. I don’t like the term, “bonus” room. I suppose it’s a logical-enough generic title real-estate folks give to an undesignated “bonus” space in one’s home.
It's vague enough to allow potential homeowners to envision the random space however they want, keeping the area open to possibilities. But the name sounds to me as though the builder had some extra materials and time and as an after-thought, decided, “Oh, what the heck. Let’s just slap on another room.”
For the first decade we lived here, the room under the eaves at the top of our stairway was something of a family room. I’ll never forget move-in day when I made the unrealistic request to move our roll-top computer desk upstairs. My fearless helpers did it, although they all may require hip or knee surgeries these 21 years later, dating back to the moment of hefting that thing skyward.
When laptops revolutionized our online work spaces to hours spent with keyboards in home easy chairs and even while stretched out in bed, the computer desk became a dinosaur.
I tried selling it (yes, you can LOL) on Facebook, then giving it away. No takers. I learned that not even Goodwill accepts these relics, nor do they take entertainment centers, another dated concept that worked well a generation ago.
Our bookcases, our second-string sofa and loveseat, and a TV with a game system hooked up filled much of the room in the years the boys were home. There, they enjoyed their games and did homework at Brian’s high school desk.
Once the boys left home, something like a decade ago, I had no vision for the mostly abandoned space. For a while, I stocked it with summer outdoor furniture in the off-season as well as miscellaneous antiques. Our bonus space became more of an attic than anywhere we wanted to spend time.
It was Brian who suggested a makeover! So this winter and early spring we’ve sorted through all our books, donated 110 volumes and reassigned others to different venues in the house, ordered and installed carpet, I’ve worked on streamlining and organizing family archives of photos and paperwork, and we got rid of excess furniture, hauling things down, and then last weekend, back up again after the carpeting went down and we undertook a careful edit.
Last Saturday after celebrating Ben’s birthday in Indy, Sam and Allison took us to IKEA in Fishers. We had never been, although Brian had long since told Allison he wanted her to give him a personal tour.
We found new bookshelves, in black, to go with our new space, and picked them up yesterday. The kids are coming Sunday to help put them together.
We have easy chairs ordered, and within another three weeks, our bonus room will have morphed into a new “study.”
I’ll show you pictures when that happens but for now, it’s under construction, so here's the before view..
My other construction project consists of writing four programs for spring! In fact, I need to make hay on a couple of these today. The first is a program for a Knightstown sorority week after next. I’ve never spoken to this group before, and their emphasis for April is on the literary arts. I’ll speak on the topic, “It’s all about the story,” and reflect on a career consisting of various kinds of writing.
Then from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 12, Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service in New Castle is hosting a special program called “Luncheon With the News Girls. They’ve invited a variety of women who take part in regular outings organized by Wanda Jones. There is a catered meal and the program features my friends and sister authors Sandy Moore, Tina West and myself. We’ll each give short programs and after that, visit with attendees and have book signings.
Seating is limited, but we’re allowed to invite some friends ourselves. So if you would like to attend, RSVP as instructed on the flyer below. Reservations are required and going fast.
Then in May, I’m speaking at two mother-daughter banquets – one near the Ohio border and one near the Illinois one. I’ll be sharing reflections on my journey as a granddaughter, daughter, mother and the joy of learning I would become a mother-in-law.
So those programs, too, are under construction.
With that said, I’d best get my hard-hat on and get to work.
The following column appeared in Sunday's, March 10, Courier-Times.
In our 60s now, Brian and I are clearly beyond the era of furnishing our home. We’re more in the stage of unfurnishing it.
In this latest round of “what we keep,” the topic is books. We’ve collected volumes all our lives. My collection began at the top of the stairs in the old Veach’s store in downtown Richmond where a rack of Little Golden Books caught my eye when shopping with Mom. I’d be permitted to pick one to buy on occasion, and more than half-a-century later, I still have those shiny-covered stories.
When Grandma Jobe was ill in the 1960s, she received a sunshine box from church friends. It contained small amusements, encouragements, and cards. I still have the slim volume of friendship-themed poetry from that box. I’ve raised my hand with that tiny book in it several times, set to discard it, but always stop short.
College books in my major seemed too important to hawk at the campus bookstore. So the texts about editing, crafting feature stories, the history of journalism, and the requisite grammar books have roomed on our shelves for thirtysomething years.
Then came the decades of novel buying, gifting, garage saling. There were Friends of the Library-sale tables that yielded recycled tomes for a quarter apiece and offered no guilt if I didn’t read them right away – or in 20 years. Then there is my double-copy problem. When I enjoy a book such as “The Shipping News,” if I find a duplicate on the cheap, I’ll pick it up for a loaner.
Brian has similar stories. He attended college a good many more years than I did for a master’s degree and certifications beyond that. He never wanted to purge his textbooks. In one noteworthy attempt, I held the volumes up and he would declare to keep or not. One book of poetry garnered his curious comment, “I hated that book. Keep it.”
So that’s how the weeding process has gone until now. We got a new sofa downstairs which inspired us to remake our upstairs bonus room. The room is where most of our books hang out and every last one of them, along with their shelving, and all manner of miscellaneous and mismatched furnishings, have to be hand-carried downstairs before our new carpeting is installed.
I’m envisioning a carefully edited library area with new shelving, a library table moved upstairs from down, and a designated family archives section where neatly organized lidded baskets will hold a family-history paper and photo trail. Should the need arise for our presidential libraries, it’s all there.
Meanwhile, we’ve given away works of Bill (Shakespeare); Uncle Walt (Cronkite’s bio), and a good number of less notable notables, including those duplicate loaner copies. Brian has decided that when it comes to our volume of volumes, less is less.
“All books do is sit there on the shelves,” he said.
“Yes, that’s what books do. It’s who they are,” I told him.
What does he expect them to do, spin, or for the non-fictions to reshelve themselves just for kicks into the middle of the photo albums? For Dad’s art books to mix it up with the novels?
So far, the tattered sofa and loveseat are gone; the new carpeting ordered, and we’re each hauling down at least one armload or large object a day, our stated minimum requirement on this project.
Then we'll reverse the process and the edited version will go back upstairs. At this rate we might be done while still in our 70s.
We’ve gone through nearly every book in the house and given each the yea or nay. No book in our collection is worth a marital spat so the criteria is simple.
1. Each of us may keep any book with no judgment from the spouse. (Rolling of the eyes is not to be within view.)
2. However, if there is no expressed desire to retain a book, and if said owner does not see himself or herself enjoyng it within the next 10 years, it’s gone.
If one person’s trash is another’s treasure, then our recycled books are someone else’s shelf problems. We wish them well.
Brian kept the poetry book because he hated it so much. Remember, I’m not allowed to judge. (Rolling eyes out of view.)
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times. She also edits the quarterly her magazine for women.
The following column recently appeared in The Courier-Times.
The other morning I looked down and there was our Boston Terrier, Reggie, enjoying a cuddle in the
comfort of our true-blue afghan.
That piece of handiwork was crocheted as a 1976 Christmas present my senior year of high school.
All the kids in the family got one, each in a different color scheme, made by my sister-in-law
Jeannie's mother, Evelyn, who passed away last year.
Who could have possibly guessed that over the next 42 years—and counting—that blanket would not
only hold up great, but retain its bright blue hues, machine wash and dry like a dream, and fold neatly
on the sofa?
In the early days of our marriage, Brian recalls us fussing over which one would take possession of the afghan first on a cold winter's night. Known for its extra-long, mega-wide size, it has always been a favorite warmer.
I remember our couple friends who visited on New Year's Eve 1978, where we played Atari. Brian and I had been married just a couple months, and one of our friends realized she was chilling and taking ill that very evening. We swaddled her in the blanket to warm her up. I think it went home with them for the night.
Once it wrapped a baby niece who was visiting—and went home with her on the ride home in a chilly
car. We got it back next time we visited the family.
Older son Sam describes the blanket as a "family heirloom," because our sons have spent their fair
share of moments wrapped in the still-serviceable keepsake.
For a while, we thought the afghan was gone for good. It hadn't turned up for a couple years, a
mystery. Brian and I remained convinced that it had gone off with son Ben to college when he and
three other boys rented a house for two years. We could only speculate—but not dwell—on what had
happened to cause the disappearance of the old afghan. One thing for sure, we didn't think we'd ever
see it again.
Then one day last year I was rummaging through layers of blankets folded under some throw pillows in an antique family cradle kept upstairs in our home, out of the way. To my astonishment—there was the blue afghan. I don't remember placing it there, but it looks like something only I would have done in an absent-minded way, perhaps in the heat of summer when the need for an ultra-warm afghan was a distant concept.
I quickly summoned Brian with news that what was lost is now found! We were both delighted.
This winter, the afghan is in use again, generally splayed across the sofa after being enjoyed yet again,
now by the empty nesters and their dog. And yes, Reggie is quite happy to take her turn under or on
top of its thick and cuddly surface.
Here's to you, blue afghan. Long may you warm the chilled and comfort the ill.
We're getting some new furniture. It came in earlier than we expected, which means we aren't ready and had to delay delivery for a week. It also means that we got ourselves in gear to redistribute the old stuff.
So today, it was up and cooking breakfast early for the moving crew. In the spirit of make-do Americans past and present, at least those in our families, Ben said he would like our old sectional sofa. I think it's in the blood, as well as the bank account, because Brian and I were handed down a sofa from his folks for our first rental home--and we were glad to get it, I might add.
We were so excited to sleep in our rented farmhouse that first night before our other furniture arrived (notably, my childhood canopy bed, sans canopy) that we slept side-by-side on our used sofa.
So at 7:45 a.m. today, Sam was the first arrival and I began creating custom-order omelettes for the three of them.
Brian picked up the truck and the guys rolled to Indy not long after that. I had fully planned to go along and offer essential advice that every mom is good for -- "Be careful on those steps, you guys;" "Don't drop it!"; "Easy;" "Watch your fingers."
But before I could get on the road, a text came from a charity that I had given up on regarding taking our upstairs sofa and love seat. There was a chance they could pick them up at 11 if that worked. I said I'd stick around and see if it worked out. It didn't, but I was pleased to know that my trio down at Indy survived not only the move upstairs to Ben's apartment of the old sectional sofa, but also the move down and out of Ben's former used sofa. They got by without my, "Be careful in the door frame!"
When Brian got back to town, he called for me to head out to pick him up at the rental place. "That went about as smoothly as it could have," he assessed of the morning move.
Buoyed by the news, and it being a mere minutes after noon, we decided to delve into a related project. If your family is like ours, whenever there's a decorating project such as new furniture, that leads to another semi-related project. In our case, it's prep work for a revamp of our upstairs bonus room. That means many things, starting with weeding out a large number of books of all kinds. I'll save those details for another blog post.
Since I wasn't there to see the results, I asked Ben to text me a photo. He did, along with a photo of a meal he put together with some leftovers I sent him home with.
And, he sent this text, "Cannot believe the beloved Cronk couch is in my apartment."
Warms this mama's heart, for sure.
Donna Cronk / Courier-Times Photo // Courier-Times, Connersville News-Examiner and Shelbyville News Publisher Tina West is retiring next Friday after 41 years in the newspaper industry. She began as an advertising clerk, delivering proofs to businesses, working her way up to publisher of multiple newspapers at once. She holds the current and first issue of her magazine for women, which she started, and of the daily Courier-Times.
By DONNA CRONK
Tina West didn't set out to spend her career in the newspaper industry. But it worked out that way and she would do it again.
West, a graduate of Anderson Highland High School, attended Ball State University to major in
elementary education. Then came a summer job with the Anderson Herald delivering advertising
proofs to businesses.
A promotion came quickly to the classified department. In less than a year she was promoted to the
"In a short time I had done payroll, accounts payable, sales, accounts receivable and saw different
sides of the newspaper," recalls West. "I loved every department I was in so I just decided this was the
career for me. Forty-one years later, it has been a great career. I would choose it all over again."
When she started out in the industry, most publishers and editors were male. "For some reason, I did
not see that as a hurdle to keep me from climbing a ladder," West recalls. "My thoughts were yes I am
a woman but I can multi-task with the best of them."
Being a mom prepared her to wear many hats. "My advice to young women starting a career is just to
work hard and respect yourself. If you do that, others will start respecting you and see your potential."
West has always found faith and family extremely important. "My faith is absolutely the most important thing to me," she says. "I am just an average woman with an amazing God. He's pretty good at what He does and He gave me some skills."
She stresses that she did not get anywhere on her own and has never taken jobs, promotions, awards
and paychecks for granted.
"I am really not that smart," says West. "He just gives me wisdom and love for people. Both of those
characteristics are very important in the workplace."
When asked which achievements and memories leading The Courier-Times mean the most to her,
West finds it an emotional question. "So many memories," she says. "Obviously the memories will be
meeting and working with so many wonderful people."
West founded her magazine for women, a specialty publication the paper launched in 2011, and says
she is proud of that. She credits staff and columnists with their work on the periodical.
"Every time it is published, it is like holding a newborn baby in my hands," says West. "Women tell me
all the time about how much they love it and can't wait for the next edition."
She said on Super Bowl Sunday, the day the current issue came out, she got a text from a friend in
Florida who had friends from New Castle already texting her about an article in it.
"Anything that brings joy to people, brings smiles and fun in their lives, is good," West says. "It was a
blessing to be a part of it."
When recalling stories from her work here, West remembers one from 1996 when the Colts played the Steelers in a championship game. Those who know West are aware that she is a huge fan of the
"My two least favorite teams are Patriots and Steelers (in that order)," says West. "Anyway, my boss
and his partner in crime (my neighbor) thought it would be funny to have me drive all over town with a Steelers license plate on my car."
She continues. "I think I drove it for a few days before I walked out of Kroger and saw a car like mine
with the Steelers plate on the front of it. Knowing that it was not my car, I kept walking around the
parking lot, again and again. Finally, I went over and looked in the car and realized it was my car. I
went back to work. I walked straight into my office and grabbed a screwdriver to remove the plate. My boss laughed for days. By the way, the Steelers won 20-16."
With 41 years under her belt in the news business, West decided at age 62 to make a change and
retire. "I want to spend time with my family," she says. "Also, my daughter and I just released a book
called 'Be Still: Memoirs of a Motherless Daughter.' I want to do more in women's ministry."
Specifically, she plans to watch Hallmark movies, read books, spoil her children and grandkids more
and pursue speaking opportunities in women's ministry. She's also writing a second book.
Tina's children are: Lyndie (husband Taylor) Metz of Pendleton. Their children are Emerson, Tennor and Beckham; Amy (husband Kevin) Westfall of Melbourne, Florida, whose daughter is Abby; Michael (wife Rachel) West of Batesville, parents of Coleman and Lucy, and Mallory (husband Sean) Finley of
"I would just like to thank all of the employees at The Courier-Times and people I have worked with at
other newspapers," says the newspaper veteran. "I have made some awesome friends. Also, my boss
David Holgate and Paxton Media Group have been nothing but great to me. Thank you for that."
Community friends, colleagues, advertisers and readers are welcome to visit with West during a
retirement open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the newspaper, 201 S. 14th St.
West will be available to chat with those who attend the come-and-go event. There will be a basket for cards and light refreshments will be available.
'A joy to work for'
Courier-Times Advertising Director Marka Sonoga said that when she heard West would be her boss,
she was delighted.
"I think she will be missed by the staff and by the community," says Sonoga. "She was a great
representative for our newspaper. She's been good to work with. I hate to see her go but she'll have
Sonoga, who will become interim publisher, admires all that West does inside and outside the
newspaper. For example, she said West plans to remain involved with her "little buddy" in a New
Castle school program organized by Believe and Achieve Mentoring (B.A.M.) She also mentions how
West is a hard worker who is not afraid to lead by doing and rolling up her sleeves and getting to work on a task.
That comment is affirmed by Courier-Times veteran reporter Darrel Radford. He admires how he would see West quietly at work on maintenance-type issues around the plant during off hours and assuming such tasks as leaf and snow removal.
Sonoga sums up how she feels about West. "She's been a joy to work for."
Longtime friend Beverly Matthews, president of the Henry County Community Foundation, said that on rare occasions, you meet someone in life who helps you fill a larger part of yourself.
"One of those people in my life is Tina West and she makes me a better person," Matthews says. "As
a friend, she encourages me; as a professional, she mentors me; and as a Christian, she influences me
with her solid faith."
She is thrilled that West gets to retire from her beloved career and "fulfill her passion of writing,
speaking and sharing her life experiences to bring help to others and glory to God."
Matthews continues, "She's not finished yet and I'm looking forward to sharing more adventures with
My name is Donna and I like to tell stories; good-news stories in particular. Here's one about a local girl who only wanted to give back to a hospital that has helped her family. From today's New Castle Courier-Times.
by DONNA CRONK
When thinking about how to celebrate her 12th birthday, Blue River Valley sixth-grader Ava Loveless had only one thing in mind. She wanted to raise money to benefit Riley Hospital for Children.
Her dream came true, taking in $400, and exceeding her expectations. She plans to hand-deliver the money soon.
Ava has a personal reason behind her love for Riley. Her brother Finnton Loveless, 9, was born there with a chromosome disorder, 5p minus syndrome, which is short for Cri du chat syndrome. Essentially, he is missing his fifth chromosome. He is unable to walk or talk.
“I know how hard it is to take care of him and to buy stuff for him,” says Ava. “I didn’t think I was going to get that much money.”
The siblings’ birthdays are very close. Ava was born Jan. 26, 2007 and Finnton three years later on Jan. 28, 2010. They are the children of Jerome and Brooke Loveless.
Says Brooke about her daughter, “She just always wanted to give back. I’m really proud of her for this.”
Ava’s Papaw, John Turner of New Castle, echoes the pride. “I’m just really proud of her for wanting to do it.”
Brooke says Finnton spent so much in-patient time at Riley that she and her daughter would stay together at the Ronald McDonald House.
The goal to raise money for the hospital that has served her family is not a new idea to Ava.
“I’ve actually been wanting to do that for my last birthday,” she says. “I’ve kind of always wanted to raise money for Riley.”
She’s excited about hand-delivering it very soon. When she’s not being a junior philanthropist, Ava enjoys volleyball when in season, social studies in the classroom, drawing, roller skating and playing on the trampoline. She attends Ninth Street Church of God.
Ava recently won an art contest by drawing the cover of her school’s upcoming yearbook. She also enjoys little kids and hopes to one day become an art teacher.