I know Newtown, CT. I was a reporter for the Danbury News-Times, 1979-1981 and Newtown was my beat. It was my first job out of college. I learned how to write news stories and features, how to work under a deadline, how to conduct interviews, take photographs, and sift the important facts. I learned the ins and outs of town government: budgets, planning and zoning, elections, public health and safety, and also covered education. I attended school board meetings, often late into the night, as budgets and programs were debated and voted upon.
I know Newtown, CT. Its colonial buildings and old-fashioned town hall could be a set for a 1950’s television show; imagine Lassie running down the street. It’s a town where doors were left open; parents volunteered as Little League coaches; and children played carefree. The Edmond Town Hall, erected in 1930 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has a movie theater that runs second-run films daily. When I worked there, tickets were $1; now they’re $2. I drove the many winding, rural roads, writing stories about the people who lived there.
I wrote features about a bottle collector, a dance teacher, the then principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School who practiced calligraphy and emphasized handwriting for his school, about high school events from sports to quiz bowls, about how a tax increase affects an individual family, about the controversy to build an addition to the town library, and countless others.
Most of the reporters lived in Danbury, a small city in the northwest part of Connecticut. We rented apartments in the same building, dubbed the “dorm,” and walked a couple blocks to the newsroom. Our last telephone call before leaving the newsroom, often around midnight when the paper went to bed for the next day’s edition, was to the local police and fire departments of our towns, checking there wasn’t any breaking news.
I don’t envy the reporters covering the tragic news from Newtown, CT. It’s great copy; there’s no shortage of stories to write, angles to cover, facts to unfold. I’m glad I’m not writing those stories.
I know Newtown, CT. It’s my town and everyone’s town.
As parent and grandparent, I’m in tears, imagining how grief has usurped holiday joy, how innocence has been lost to violence.
Every time there’s another random slaughter, the clarion cry for gun control resumes. Some prefer to rely on faith. Some urge better mental health intervention.
As a teacher, I’ve taught plenty of students who were loners, preferring to keep to themselves, not joining any cliques or groups. Every child who appears friendless isn’t a potential serial killer. Yet anyone inclined towards violence can easily obtain a gun.
The answer is clear. Sign the petitions.