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July 6, 2008 - John Whittaker
One day last summer, I was sitting at my computer at work, probably sketching out news budgets for the rest of that week.
I heard the door to the newsroom open, thought nothing of it and returned my concentration to my computer screen.
It wasn't until I heard a distinctive voice, one that I hadn't heard in months, that I looked up to see Manley, who had been in Nevada for the previous six months, standing in the middle of the newsroom with his daughter, Christine Cochran. For a few minutes, at least, it was like old times in the office as Manley held center court in the newsroom.
For much of the 11 years I've worked at The Post-Journal, guys like Dent Thorpe and Manley Anderson were fixtures here. If you were willing to listen, they'd tell you anything you wanted to know.
As a beginning sportswriter, Dent taught me not to forget the small schools, how important recognition is for schools or sports that don't normally get recognition, to double-check information and to be willing to work. Jim Riggs, our sports editor, loves to tell the story of the Christmas Day he walked into a dark office to find Dent, sitting in the dark, just in case someone called in a game.
Manley was one of those guys. After I moved from sports to news, as a beginning news reporter, Manley was a great resource for someone who didn't know a lot about local issues. If an editor wasn't in the room, I'd make my way over to Manley's corner desk. He'd answer any question I had, find phone numbers or suggest people to talk to for stories and give you all the history on a person or business you could ask for.
And, if you wanted to listen, my oh my, would he tell stories -- trips he'd been on, things he'd covered, people he knew and what they'd done, the changes he'd seen at the paper, the things the staff did together in the good old days.
A few of my favorite Manley stories, in no particular order:
1. When Manley learned that I had attended Panama Central School, his face lit up. It turns out, before accountants found out and made him stop, that Manley also worked as a sports reporter for The Post-Journal. One night, he was assigned to go out to Panama to cover a basketball game. He made his way into the gym only to find out there was no basketball game - so he covered the wrestling meet that was going on instead. It also turns out Manley was in the gym for a game I was playing in, or, to be more accurate, watching from the best seat in the house, when Clymer beat us on a last-second tip-in in overtime. "My, I don't remember seeing you there," he'd say with that dry sense of humor that served him so well.
2. Manley loved to travel - and also loved to keep everyone guessing. One of the great office games each year was to try to get Manley to tell you where he was going on his next trip. On his trip to Uzbekistan, nobody knew where he was going until he was there - we tried to get it out of him for months. "Oh, I'll be around, I guess." or "I'll be here and there." And forget getting Manley to tell you how old he was. For a story in Sunday's edition of the paper, I had to ask Manley's daughter how old he was, because he hated talking about his age - at least, he did to me.
3. One of my all-time favorite Manley moments was after his marathon retirement open house. Hundreds of people made their way through the newsroom to say hi or share stories with Manley. After everybody had left, a group of us sat in a circle listening to Manley tell stories, or be reminded of stories by Cristie Herbst, our editor, and Sid Sweeney, who has also worked at the paper for more than 50 years, or Jim Riggs, a newcomer compared to Cristie, Manley and Sid who's only worked here since the mid-1970s. They talked about newsroom camping trips where Manley tried to cook a turkey over a campfire, golf trips and hikes, and the time Manley had to dictate a story by Gov. Mario Cuomo. It was just a fun time listening to their stories - you could almost picture the newsroom the way it was before the renovation, before computers and before all of us young kids showed up.
4. After six years here, I became an editor. Each day, the city and region editor make our way around the newsroom to each reporter what they're working on. I'd come to Manley and ask him what he was working on. He'd look up from his computer and say, "I dunno. I've got some calls out, and we'll see what comes in." A couple of hours later, without fail, I'd look in my computer queue and there would be two or three stories from Manley - he'd just snuck them in there without saying anything and gone home for the night.
5. I'm not sure if this qualifies as a Manley story or not, but I think it's worth sharing anyway. Sometimes, there are days when you come to the office and it's a struggle to get anything written. The phone doesn't ring. Calls don't get returned. The plan you had when you walked in evaporates - but you still have to find something to do. Early on in my reporting career, it was really easy to let days go by finishing no stories. . You come in every day, but there are days you don't bring your 'A' game.
It wasn't my fault, I'd say. Nobody called back.
Manley never said a word about it, and he didn't have to. His example said more than any words could. When you walk into the newsroom, and see a 70-year-old man pounding away at his keyboard, it's really hard to justify not coming up with a story that day. There were days you knew Manley wasn't feeling his best. But there he was, every day, finishing stories, serving his readers.
He was, and still is, a great example to follow.
I know he won't read this post, but I just want to say, "Thanks, Manley. You're the best - and you'll be missed."
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