When I was a junior in college, I wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, “Cullom’s Escapades”. It chronicled various and fictional weekend jaunts at neighboring party schools. The oft lampooned “institutions of higher imbibing” were always “out of town”, so that Cullom could supposedly maintain a chaste reputation at his own alma mater. Further, the pretense was in the first person so the piece usually read like a humorous journal.
Towards the end of the year, my interest in the paper was waning, as was that of the entire student body. The paper had dwindled to, at best, four pages and the editing was embarrassingly sloppy and unprofessional. It drove me to rhetorical distraction! The assistant editor was certainly to guide the paper to a similar destiny, should he be selected to man the helm for the coming year. Cullom could simply not bear the brunt of the entire rag!
At that point, after quiet soul-searching, I opted to lobby for the editorship myself, assuring all concerned that, in my creative and rather anal manner, the paper could be returned to its glory of previous years.
Needless to say, I was chosen as the new editor-in-chief. This post would be moot if otherwise, eh my friends? I had grand ideas, terrific visuals, and unyielding enthusiasm. What I lacked, however, was any staff to speak of … except for a few souls who were sadly accustomed to misspelled words, skewed layout, and very little substance. Save “Cullom’s Escapades”, of course.
I decided, after fruitless canvassing, to make a go of it — solo!
I wrote a dozen or so news articles, two rather lengthy features, and scores of letters to the editor … and added the obligatory news service entries. In doing so, I created fictional bylines with fictional names to create the illusion of a rather large staff. Then on layout night, the trusty three or four carry-overs and I did mock-ups for the entire twelve page newspaper. After my associates adjourned, I proofread every item for my own assurance that all details were letter-perfect and all visuals were perfectly aligned.
When the paper was released that Tuesday, students were shocked by the sheer thickness of the paper, as well as the edgier new banner and graphics. I walked through the cafeteria, noticing probably half the students curiously perusing, turning pages, and naturally laughing with my friend, Cullom.
We repeated the formula for the next four weeks with marked improvements each week. The paper grew to twenty pages and circulation had doubled as we were running out on Tuesdays usually by midday. As I had hoped, other students started dropping by during the week to sign up as reporters and to follow leads. Others showed up on Sunday nights, when we did “mock-ups”. Before I knew it and ahead of my personal projections, we had assembled a staff of about thirty-five.
I eventually retired the fictional staff, though not all at once. Letters to the editor were bountiful. I was able to spend my time focusing on more artistic endeavors, managing staff, and (most importantly) tending to Cullom’s affairs which had taken quite the back seat.
He was more than anxious for a weekend getaway. A football game, a few parties, and several St Pauli Girls were definitely in order. Cullom needed desperately to be naughty, as did I!
Note: Mine is a secret that has been well kept for nigh of some thirty odd years. I must admit: it has been a difficult one to escape as just the mention of the word “font” floods my conscience with memories. Cullom has thus been revealed at last!
(Image: “Portrait of Mil Mascaras Victor” by David Gremard Romero, 2005.)