Inkspots: A weary newspaperman hangs up his pen
by RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Oct 13, 2013 | 990 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“I didn’t know that painters and writers retired. They’re like soldiers. They just fade away.”

― Lawrence Ferlinghetti

American poet & painter

(b. March 24, 1919)

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Versatile Scottish actor Sean Connery, who gave silver-screen life to secret agent James Bond and years later to juju medicine man Dr. Robert Campbell, was once quoted as saying, “If anything could have pulled me out of retirement, it would have been an ‘Indiana Jones’ film.”

The talented Academy Award winner co-starred with Harrison Ford in the series’ third installment, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in 1989, but some 19 years later declined to emerge from retirement in order to appear in the fourth flick, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Inarguably, Connery was an icon in the acting industry.

Speaking of versatility and someone who has reached iconic status in his profession, Cleveland’s Fourth Estate will be bidding farewell to one of its own. Like Sir Thomas Sean Connery did in April 2011, the Cleveland Daily Banner’s own David Davis, our managing editor, will be turning in his reporter’s pad, pen and press card on Oct. 30.

David’s well-deserved retirement comes after long careers in the U.S. Navy and later as a newsman, the latter of which included about 10 years here at the Banner.

His talents are as versatile as Sir Thomas — albeit in different communications genres — but I doubt even phone calls from “Indiana Jones” creators Steven Spielberg and George Lucas could lure him away from this new Life of Riley. For those scratching their heads over Riley, I suggest Googling.

Besides, I understand wife Carmen — and by the way, the happy couple whose first meeting was more a miracle of fate just celebrated their fourth anniversary — probably has plans for him.

Mentioning our managing editor’s planned exodus isn’t exactly letting the cat out of a bag. Although our newspaper has made no formal announcements, word is lashing through the community like Indy’s bullwhip. No one has made it a secret, and even fewer are trying.

David’s leaving after a long, satisfying and exhausting career. After a recent health scare, he has earned some downtime, and he deserves this chance finally to be Carmen’s husband and not a newspaper editor.

As happy as I am for David to try life on the low side, I’m also realistic. The guy will be missed.

As I mentioned in this column a few months ago, and repeated in a WOOP radio chat with Mark, Lisa and Jay not long afterward, David has become the face of the Cleveland Daily Banner. He was a “go to” writer I relied upon — and yes, probably too much — and he likewise was a favorite among many readers in Cleveland and Bradley County.

I first came to the Banner long before David, but left 12 years later to pursue public relations and corporate communications. Sometime during my 21-year hiatus, David came riding in from Oklahoma and immediately built a reputation for trust, objectivity and a passion for journalism.

When I returned to the Banner three years, four months and 13 days ago, I became the new guy. David was the old pro. We had a running joke between the two of us based on a comment he made early in our work together. It went something to the effect of, “... You are the editor we hired off the street.”

It was David’s lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek way of saying, “Welcome to the jungle!”

In many ways, that’s what newspapering really is. It can be fun. It can be mean. It can be frustrating. It can be disheartening. It can be personally rewarding. It can be a boisterous laugh. It can be a haunting cry. Just like a jungle, newspapering can chew you up and spit you out like bad fish.

David knew it, but he stayed. Like any editor whose multiple roles included writing, photography, page design, early mornings, late nights and long weekends on the clock, David’s passion for the printed word kept him in the business until the business just about did him in.

In our short time together, he and I shared plenty of 6 a.m. talks in the quiet of a still newsroom where the phones were not yet ringing and the swarm of reporters had not yet unleashed their morning assault.

I always liked David, although we never really had time to get to know one another outside this newsroom. I respected his advice and I admired his ability to take complicated stories and simplify them by selecting just the right words to which readers could relate.

But that’s not to say we didn’t have our moments. I recall one yelling match that began in the middle of the newsroom and ended in my office. I can’t remember the topic. Let’s just say we didn’t agree. That’s what newspaper folks do. We quarrel. We work it out. We move on.

Life’s too short for anything less.

Frankly, David’s decision to retire was a stunner, yet I completely understand. Like I said, life in the jungle is tough. I don’t care if you work for a mid-sized community newspaper like ours or the New York Times, the newsroom can be a melting pot of opinions and a boiling kettle of emotions.

I’ll miss David’s passion for people, his objective ways and his sage advice.

I’ll also miss his versality. In the newsroom, David could do it all.

He gave his years. He put in the time. He made Cleveland a better place by standing up for what is right.

Dandy Don Meredith said it best years ago on Monday nights when he crooned into the ear of a humored Howard Cosell, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

But then again, maybe David’s party is just beginning. Carmen’s waiting in the wings and the world’s his new stage.

See you on the other side, my friend. It’ll be a tough go for the rest of us. But we’ll make it. Seems like we always do.

Keep reading. Write on occasion. Live the good life.

And for the record, if Spielberg or Lucas really do call, I’d suggest dusting off the leather jacket, tilting the weathered hat, oiling the bullwhip and hauling Carmen off to Hollywood to write the screenplay for “Indiana Davis: Writers of a New Day.”