Reader Tom Richardson, who lives in Clearwater, FL, sent me a copy of the Clearwater edition of The St. Petersburg Times containing a story about the demolition of the old Clearwater Sun building.
My father, the late James L. Beardsley, worked for The Sun, an afternoon six-days-a-week-paper for 39 years, most of it as its editor. After Dad retired, it switched to a morning paper and, losing most of its circulation to The Tampa Tribune and The St. Petersburg Times, folded.
I have fond memories of the newsroom of that Myrtle Avenue building. Dad had one of the few offices; reporters and proofreaders shared one large room, and there was a small room where the Associated Press teletype machines brought in news from around the world. In the back was a section for photo engraving; shards of metal lay all about from the plate engraving machines in an era long before offset printing, let alone computer pagination.
Funny thing: I read only the sports, comics and front pages. I never looked at the editorials - until after Dad retired and my sister sent me some of his columns.
What I do recall is that The Sun focused on local news. It covered Clearwater, Dunedin and adjacent towns, laboring in the shadow of The Times, even then a great newspaper but disdained by my father.
At home, we also read The Tampa Tribune. As for The Times, my father said of its publisher: "He's a communist."
I've been at The Commerce News for more than 33 years. Next week, another Beardsley joins the fray. Steven, who worked briefly for MainStreet Newspapers before going back to school, just got his masters degree in journalism from the best J-school in America, Columbia University. He will be the crime reporter for The Naples (FL) Daily News starting next week.
I've joked that the male side of the Beardsley family carries a genetic flaw that leads them into journalism. We found out from a distant relative that my father was not the first of the family to be so afflicted. Three prior Beardsleys were also in the publishing business, so Steven becomes the sixth in the family to take up the cause - if you don't count my sister, who did time as a proofreader and wrote a music column briefly for The Clearwater Sun.
Like me, growing up he had no interest in being a journalist. I discovered after I learned to type that I liked to write and just wound up in the business. Steven, needing a job after he majored in comparative literature at UGA, took a reporting position for The Jackson Herald and The Banks County News and discovered that he liked reporting.
It must be a persistent genetic flaw.
Steven will be the best of the family journalists. He's a good writer, is an excellent interviewer, is curious, well-read and has wonderful training from Columbia. He can also spell, inheriting those genes from his mother.
Steven's late grandfather must surely be smiling. Not only is his grandson continuing the family tradition, but he's doing it in Florida.