Saturday Night in the Sunrise Laundry
By Don Barone
“Well I was born in a small town
and I live in a small town…”
Sounds like a Country Western song.
Saturday Night in the Sunrise Laundromat…my body all wrinkled…my life in a spin cycle…my baby done left me hung out to dry..
Spent a couple hours in the middle of small town America, a town of frozen custard stands, pizza joints with the owner in front of the ovens, traffic circles and bicycle lanes.
Want to get to know small towns, go to the local coin laundry, go back there in the back of the joint, near the big dryers, back there where the cork bulletin board hangs.
Read of who is selling what, who’s looking for what, lost dogs and cats, found religion and career opportunities, need a babysitter, pull off the tab below and call, need a haircut…just around the corner…need a car…Bob’s got one to sell…and across the street Pete will fix it for you.
We are a country of paper scraps pinned on corkboards.
It goes way back…in colonial America, information and notices were printed on one side of a sheet of paper called “Broadsides” and tacked onto trees, walls, fences.
The first American broadside was thought to have been printed by Stephen Daye in Cambridge (Boston) in 1639.
You want to know a town…go read the scraps of paper pinned on the cork boards in the laundromat and supermarket.
“…probably die in a small town
oh, those small communities…”
Eden, New York
Where “db” was born.
Towards the end of my college career I started sort of interning at a local TV station in Buffalo, NY.
WKBW-TV…the local ABC affiliate.
Could have been a Friday, could have been a weekend, when the news director came up to me and said this, “I want you to go to Eden for the Eden Corn Festival.”
“Uh-huh,” I said wondering where Eden was…or if he was sending me to THAT Eden.
“I want you to do a story there about the corn festival.”
It was 1982.
“I want you to do a story about the corn festival.”
That sentence…changed my life.
Thirty years ago at the Eden Corn Festival a TV news director sent me to cover a corn festival…sent me to do a story, “on –camera” in front of the lens, not behind it. I wrote the story, directed the shots with a video photographer named Joe, edited it with Joe, and handed it to the news director…a guy named Steve.
It never aired in Buffalo…no one in Eden ever saw it.
Joe saw my first story.
Steve saw my first story.
Barb saw my first video tape…fancy editing, fancy words, a not very fancy guy in front of the camera…a 30 year old beginner.
And a guy named Mike saw it.
Mike was the News Director at WKBW’s sister station, KFSN in Fresno, California.
Said, “I’m looking for a Feature Reporter, you interested.”
I remember to this day where I was standing when the phone call came…in the kitchen of our second floor rented duplex…one family lived downstairs…we lived upstairs.
The dining room was painted bright blue…the bathroom had hand painted stripes…the kitchen was a bright yellow.
I was boiling water for tea…when the wall phone rang. I stood in the kitchen doorway leaning up against the white trim looking at the wall of the neighbor’s house next to us.
“I would be very interested,” I told this Mike guy even though I didn’t know what a Feature Reporter was…or did.
“It’s in Fresno, California…Steve sent me the your video tape…if you’re interested I’ll take a fly with you.”
“I would love that…” Had no idea what a Fresno was.
Two weeks later I was a Televison News Feature Reporter on the number one television news station in the central valley of California.
I have never had the opportunity to say this, this to the people of Eden, NY.
To the people who work so hard, volunteer to run the Eden Corn Festival.
Never said, never told them,
Thank you for the past 30 years of being on the job.
The highs, the lows, the adventure, the zest you provided me in life.
Thank You for allowing me to tell your story in 1982.
Because as it turned out,
it was the biggest story of my life.
“…yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
and people let me be just what I want to be.”