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A trip down memory lane at The A-T

The publisher’s recent column ’24 hours in the life of a newspaper’ took me back to the tail end of the 70s and into the early 80s. When I wasn’t delivering The Advertiser-Tribune down First Avenue, Wall Street, and the aptly named Short Street, I had it open on the kitchen table for the funnies to catch stray Cheerios.

Later I graduated to Ann Landers, the advice columnist who got saddled with the great toilet paper roll debate (over or under?), and Mike Royko, a syndicated writer out of Chicago who frequently chatted about politics with his alter ego Slats Grobnik. Memory Lane, anyone?

The newspaper also featured the big, beautiful, black and white photography (color was just around the corner) of a gentleman by the name of Lance Wynn. His photos were responsible for a lot of ink on my hands.

Printed media was in its heyday then, so The A-T was heftier, to the sorrow of us paperboys and girls. Not long out of the BGSU journalism program, Lance must’ve been pleased to be given so much newsprint to showcase his skills.

I often saw him marching up and down the sidelines at Columbian Tornados football games, the puffy clouds of his breath dissipating under the stadium lights in the chill autumn air.

He won awards for his sports photography. One of the few pictures you can find online, “First victory after 15 losses,” will give a taste. It shows a basketball coach pumped with the adrenalin of the win: it’s impossible not to imagine the man leaping up in absolute delight a moment after that shot was taken.

Lance must’ve slept with a police scanner under his pillow: if there was a fire, he was there. A kid joyfully sledding down a hill after a heavy snowfall in Hedges-Boyer Park, likewise. I’d wager he was pretty much “on” most of those 24 hours of the day.

When he wasn’t out documenting the life of the town and surrounding area, he was in the darkroom, cropping, dodging and burning. He was talented at layout, too. Even his name had a winning ring to it.

It’s fair to say Lance’s work ignited my love of photography. I spent my high school career day following him around and doubtless testing his patience, chatting about cameras. He had a Nikon; I had a Minolta. You’d better believe I switched to Nikon soon after. (Go to www.facebook.com/ohio2england for some of the results.) Of course, the brand doesn’t matter, but try telling that to a starstruck and impressionable kid.

He moved out of Tiffin around the time I was leaving town myself. After a spell in New York, he enjoyed a long career with a paper in Michigan, garnering more accolades, including for an essay on the Amish, who aren’t known for their selfies. He seems to have been good at earning people’s trust.

Lance died September of last year of Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. He was only 64. This is definitely not what I was expecting when I typed his name into Google not long ago.

I would encourage you to read the tribute to him by JerriLynn Osmar, here: www.pedersonfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Lance-Wynn/. She knew him well. I didn’t really know him at all, though I was able to see the world through his eyes.

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