Tag Archives: newspaper

Granddad featured in ‘Slice of Life’ story

8 Nov

The Valley Morning Star in Harlingen, Texas, wrote a story about my grandfather! There’s a photo, too. (I’m trying to get a copy of it.) I added the links — force of habit. Besides, how many of you have an 81-year-old grandfather with a Web site?

Valuable service: Woody Spillman

Apartment manager goes extra mile to help residents

November 5, 2008 – 10:34PM
By EDWINA P. GARZA/Valley Morning Star

Woody Spillman may be unlike any other apartment manager in the Rio Grande Valley.

Spillman helps his apartment residents with everything from flat tires to rides to the airport at no charge.

In 1995, Spillman, who is originally from Missouri, purchased Oakridge Apartments at 119 N. First St.

During the 1970s, when he was a banker, Spillman spent his winters on South Padre Island.

Decades later after he retired early and started searching for an apartment building to manage, he found the right fit in Harlingen.

“I wanted to be near water,” Spillman explained. “I’ve been here ever since.”

Spillman, now 81, says he’s happy managing his nearly 20 units.

“I think it’s better than anything,” he said. “I like the association of my residents and I enjoy working.”

Spillman, who offers his residents all kinds of free help, says he learned valuable customer service tools when he worked in banking.

“Some of it is my own idea and I don’t know anyone else who does it,” he said.

Because it can be costly to clean up and do construction after someone vacates a unit, Spillman tries to keep his residents at Oakridge Apartments. To do so, he offers monetary bonuses to people who renew their contracts.

Currently, Oakridge Apartments has no vacancy, he added.

When asked why he offers residents all kinds of help, Spillman said he’s just a nice guy.

“If anybody has a flat on the street I’ll stop and help them,” he said.

“It’s not too often that something like that happens.”

A former Merchant Marine who served during World War II, Spillman said he’s traveled across the world. He has visited Japan, Singapore, North Africa, England and Germany, among other countries.

“I got around a lot,” he boasted. “I’ve had an interesting life and at 81, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”

The family history blog I started has several letters that granddad’s parents sent to each other before they were married.

Newspapers are art, too

4 Aug

When I was little, my mother subscribed to the Wall Street Journal. My earliest newspaper memories are sitting at the kitchen table or in church with a newspaper and pen, circling words in the paper. It was a smart trick by my mother: I learned letters and words, and I was preoccupied enough to keep quiet. I remember sitting in church hunting for the word “the” — and asking if it counted if it was part of another word.

Austin Kleon does something similar, but much more sophisticated — he hunts through newspaper pages for the perfect words to create poems, and blacks out the rest of the page. The result is striking.

Kleon is sponsoring a contest to create newspaper blackout poems. Download the Aug. 1, 1908, page from his site and create your own poem. The winner and three runners-up will get a copy of his new book. (Kleon also offers tips on how to create newspaper poems.)

Back in my day …

30 Mar

I’ve come to a realization: I’m too old for my profession.

OK, it’s not that I’m too old. I’m only 31. There are quite a few people older than me hanging around the newsroom and getting paid for it. (I am getting dangerously close to the age where I am required to sit at my desk and lament about the good old days: When newspapers were only 50 cents — and some were less!; when X-Acto knives, line tape and wax were used to piece together newspaper pages; when typewriters and fax machines were commonly heard in the newsroom; when everyone in the world turned to the newspaper for news and entertainment. I’ll start saying clever phrases like “holy buckets.” I already say “e-gads” sometimes and refer to anyone younger than 30 as “kids” — usually “damn kids.”)

No, I’m too old for the profession I want — the techy, multimedia savvy, creative job that doesn’t mess with dirty newsprint or day-old news. Those jobs are currently held by people younger than me.

Take the Palm Beach Post’s new Backyard Post, for example. The three guys behind that? The oldest is 29; the other two are 26. And they even have official-sounding titles!

Two years ago, there might have been hope. Now, it’s all downhill. Damn kids.