Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the tee shirts of my life, #1 — the hometown news

I have been going through some drawers, trying to clear things out, and found a bunch of old tee shirts that I hadn't seen in ages. Most were saved by my mom, I think. And did they bring me back. It's amazing how something like an old tee shirt could tell a story. For instance, this shirt, from the mid-70s. I didn't know that any of these had survived.


My dad was a newspaperman, who worked the political beat for New Jersey papers The Newark News and later, The Daily Observer, which operates out of Ocean County. In the '70s he decided he wanted to be his own boss and opened a local weekly paper called The Hometown News. He did everything — wrote the stories, taught my mom and me how to do layout, took and developed the photos in the darkroom (which he taught my brother and me how to do, too), sold advertising (until he could hire someone else to do that), even delivered the papers to stores and to the homes of paper boys and girls. And he had some tee shirts made. This must have been my mom's. She also wrote the entertainment column, mostly about television.

The artwork, which was also part of the paper's banner, was from one of our gigantic clip art collection books.


The Hometown News didn't survive very far into the 1980s, however. But I learned a lot. I wrote the music column, and my dad suggested that I write to major record labels; that I would be willing to review new releases. I did and they sent me free records. Some of them were pretty awful, but because of The Hometown News I also got free records and was introduced to and fell in love with some of my favorite bands like The Police and The Clash. And these days I find myself still writing, and even reviewing. It just takes a tee shirt to connect the dots.


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