Jim Krumel: No cell phones, or Facebook too?


People ask me what’s the biggest “game changer” I’ve seen in the 47 years I’ve worked in the newspaper industry, the last 28 in Lima.

It’s easy to answer.

Mobile phone.

This handheld not only changed the press, it transformed almost every business in the world. It is the vehicle that drives the so-called information highway. With a simple touch of your finger, you can land inside a store, order a sandwich or find the news of the day.

If you’re under 30, you might be wondering how we survived without such a tool. No SMS? No selfies? No Facebook? Well, in our business, we produced information by talking to each other.

I know, quite outdated. But he had his moments.

In fact, my favorite moment in the newsroom actually came from the BCP – before cellphones. This is a story published in The Lima News that resulted in three boys ending up on the Jay Leno show. If you’ve ever heard me tell this story, I apologize, but that’s what you do when you get older, you repeat to yourself.

Anyway, it happened in the mid-1990s during a brutal heat wave in August. The news had been particularly slow. Our city editor, Keith Helmlinger, was looking for local stories – anything – to fill the next day’s edition, when he received a phone call from a woman in Lima. The woman said she walked past several children waving to motorists on Gloria Avenue. The woman said the children’s politeness made her feel special.

Keith pondered the call for a while and began to wonder what had caused those kids to stand on a street corner waving at cars. He sent a reporter to find out, who, by the way, thought Keith was crazy. Children who greet motorists? Where’s the news? She left reluctantly, only because Keith pointed out that she wasn’t doing anything in the office other than soaking up the air conditioning, which to this day is one of the all-time classic lines I have heard in a newsroom.

An hour later, the reporter came back and said she had a great human interest story. (Now the story had become his idea). She said the kids were bored and decided to try to get a hundred people to wave at them. They had funny stories to tell, she noted.

Later that afternoon, The Lima News received its daily call from AP in Columbus, wondering if we had any news to share. (Remember, there was no Facebook or websites to check back then. Those of us in the communications business once again had to talk to each other.)

Keith told the AP he was so slow in Lima that he sent a reporter to speak with children who waved at motorists. People in Columbus begged for the story, explaining that every newspaper in the state was reporting a slow news day and they didn’t have much to put on the news feed.

Meanwhile, the AP bureau in New York put out a call to Columbus, asking for any unusual stories he might have. News in the country has also been slow, he noted. As a result, the story of children hailing cars in Lima, Ohio was broadcast on the national wire and published by newspapers across the country.

But the story did not end there.

A member of the Jay Leno Show read the story and had an idea: he wondered if people in Burbank, California were as polite as people in Lima. As a result, the children were flown to California to appear on the Leno show, where they were asked to come out and see if they could wave to a hundred people.

The Lima kids did their best, but unsurprisingly few California motorists would have anything to do with their kindness. They had places to go and people to see, after all. There was no time to smile or greet a child standing on the corner.

This made fans of the Leno show laugh and a fun story for us.

ROSES AND THORNS: A legend enters the rose garden.

Pink: To Dan Fanger, who will retire Jan. 7 as vice president of sales and marketing for Unverferth Mfg. in Kalida, ending a 56-year career with the company. Fanger started working at Unverferth at a time when gas was 30 cents a gallon, the Beatles released their Rubber Soul album, the Sound of Music was the highest-grossing movie, and Bonanza was the highest-rated TV show.

Pink: At Arnett, Victor I and Victor II. They are one of the few father/son teams to have retired from the Lima post office. Victor Arnett II recently retired as a postman at the Lima post office after 27 years of service, as well as three years of time in the military for retirement purposes. His father (Victor I) retired as a post office clerk in Lima on September 11, 1998, with 32 years of service, plus four years of military time for retirement purposes.

Pink: To Ken Meyer, who was named Bath Township Firefighter of the Year.

Pink: Perry’s big win over Shawnee in men’s basketball has local sports fans wondering how far the Commodores will run when the tournament begins.

Spiked: Leo Academy in Lima, formerly Golden Bridge, announced it would close at the end of the week, sending frantic parents rushing to find a school that would accept new students.

SEPARATION BLOW: Sometimes the best Christmas gift is remembering what you already have.

Jim Krumel

Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.


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