Niagara Gazette

June 16, 2014

CITY DESK: Week off musings

By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Reflections on things found while rummaging through a box of old stuff during my time off last week:

• Item No. 1: Term paper on the Beatles written for my 11th grade English teacher.

First thought: The day my old high school football coach, Lancaster great Len Jankiewicz, walked up from behind me while I was sitting at a disk, grabbed my shoulders firmly and reminded me that all the players on his team earn passing grades or they aren’t on his team anymore. 

At the time, my English grade, despite my affinity for writing, hovered around D territory basically for lack of trying. The paper helped bring my grade back to respectability. I put in a better effort after Jankiewicz’s little motivational talk. 

Lasting impression: Just about everything Jankewicz — the Redskins’ longtime football coach and later school athletic director — taught me about playing the game and succeeding both on and off the field. Great football coach, better man.

Item No. 2 - A map of the site of Woodstock ‘94 and assorted materials, including a list of bands that would be performing and a checklist of things to bring. 

First Thought: Man, before life experiences tamed me, I used to do all sorts of crazy stuff, usually without any kind of real preparation and without thinking twice. To think, I was there, among the mud people, rocking in the rain and wishing the corporate masters who ran the whole thing weren’t so greedy with their overpriced food and beverages. To be young and foolish — as opposed to old and foolish — again. 

Lasting Impression: Sitting with an old co-worker of mine on a shopping cart that someone had wheeled into the site and dumped on its side in a pile of mud. It was the waning hours of the event and by that time the hungry, irate masses had stormed the booths and raided all the food. We sat there — in the rain — eating “free” chicken sandwiches. A meal I’ll never forget. 

Item No. 3 - List of reporting do’s and don’ts from legendary Buffalo newsman and my old intern boss at WBEN radio, Brian Meyer. 

First thought: How many times do I adhere to Meyer’s golden rules of quality journalism in a given day or week? Have I done an adequate job of passing them along to my staff today? 

Lasting Impression: Another Jankiewicz type influence in my life, the kind of person who taught me a great deal about a lot of little things that still stick with me today. Brian treated his interns as professionals as well as human beings. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. 

• Item No. 4 - A copy of The Boston Globe newspaper from Aug. 14, 1995.

First thought: I still have this? Wow. How cool. I saved the edition because it came out the day after the death of legendary New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle. I happened to be in enemy territory during a tour of Boston as a chaperone to a bunch of kids from the Clarence youth center. 

Lasting Impressions: Seeing the flag atop Fenway at half staff in honor of one of the rival club’s best players of all time. Another impression: What an older Red Sox fan said to one of the youth center kids in our group. The boy — who couldn’t have been more than 10-years-old — stood up mid game and shouted “Red Sox stink,” only he used a more colorful word starting with an s that rhymes with puck. The Boston fan behind him, gently grabbed him by the shoulder, turned him around, looked him in the eyes and said: “Hey kid, around here, saying stuff like that will get you killed.”

Funny, the little guy didn’t say another word out for the rest of the game. 

Contact reporter Mark Scheer at 282-2311, ext. 2250.