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Dear Readers: Without you, there would be no us...Thanks so much! -- Terry Pluto

November 22, 2018

Dear Readers: Without you, there would be no us...Thanks so much! -- Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio – I began working during the summer at the old Fisher-Fazio Foods warehouse when I was 16 years old.

I thought about that when I ran into the wife and sister of Clyde David. He was my first boss in the receiving office. My father also worked at the warehouse, but he was supervisor.

Clyde was patient man, a wonderful teacher. I was scared that I’d mess up, embarrass my father and fail in my first real venture into the world of work.

That was about 47 years ago.

I remember seeing the warehouse guys reading the sports pages on their breaks and during lunchtime.

Guys chomping down sandwiches from lunch boxes – coffee from metal thermoses. They talked about the local sports teams and stories written by the likes of Hal Lebovitz, Chuck Heaton, Dan Coughlin and others with the Plain Dealer.

I already wanted to be a writer.

I thought, “If one day, these guys would read my stuff...”

I kept dreaming...

One day, if I could earn a living with a typewriter...

I remember telling a younger person about composing stories on a “typewriter.” I could tell he was confused.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I also used to go to work by stagecoach. It was a long time ago. Franklin Pierce was president. We didn’t even have Twitter.”

FEELING GRATEFUL

Spending time in the warehouse and watching those men read the paper was a tremendous lesson – the readers matter.

No readers, no need for writers.

And the readers of the sports page are looking for some relief.

It could be from a grueling job. It could be from dealing with cancer or arthritis or being a caretaker for a family member. It could be just the pressure of everyday life.

It’s why I try hard never to confuse sports with real life.

Sports are a wonderful diversion. They can be fun and frustrating, exhilarating and excruciating.

But in the end, they’re just sports. Try never to let the millionaires ruin your day.

STAYING HOME

I have spent 59 of my 63 years living in Northeast Ohio.

I assume that makes me a native of the area.

Although, I remember working at the Savannah Morning News. There was an obituary with this line: “While not a native Savannahian, he lived 78 of his 81 years here.”

OK...

Having worked early in my career in Greensboro, Savannah (twice) and Baltimore gave me a tremendous appreciation of being able to write in my hometown about the teams of my youth.

My goal was to work my way back home...where I know the teams, the fans and even our strange sports psyche.

And to write about the same teams the guys at the warehouse talked about: Browns, Indians, Cavs.

I once had a call to interview with a paper in New York City. One of my old bosses was there, indicating I had a good shot at a very high profile job.

I hung up the phone and talked with Roberta. My wife and I looked at each other. We had zero interest to live in New York.

“I can’t imagine writing about the Yankees,” I said.

I called back and turned it down.

I’ve lived both in the the Cleveland area and Akron. I’ve worked for the old Cleveland Press, the Akron Beacon Journal and the Plain Dealer (twice).

The business has changed so much...the internet...videos...social media.

But the readers remain the heartbeat.

And I just want to thank you for keeping my dreams alive for all these years.

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