I walked into the Gatehouse during orientation of what was my sophomore year in 1978 and immediately fell in love. I was a Hopkins legacy but a transfer, having spent a year in an experimental high-school-to-college program at the University of Delaware. I had a desire to write. I had been an editor at my high school paper at Wesley College where the Delaware program was housed, and I had even been a sports stringer for Dover Post, a local paper founded only a few years before.
The Gatehouse smelled of newsprint, wax, pizza and beer. For a 17-year-old Hopkins sophomore, it was just the thing. I was smitten. My name appeared in the masthead of the third edition that year and never left for the next three years.
I fancied myself a sportswriter, publishing my first article on women’s field hockey at the start of the season. I fell in with the football writer, Richard “Dixie Dick” Miller, and was handed an interesting beat: cross-country, swimming and men’s lacrosse. I reveled in the role of lacrosse writer during one of the strongest periods of Hopkins lacrosse — three NCAA titles and two undefeated seasons (bookending a one-loss season).
My purple prose sang. Following a win over (then) archrival Cornell University, I wrote, “The fans saw only two things playing last weekend as Hopkins men’s lacrosse trounced the Big Red of Cornell, 13-5: the Blue Jay laxers and the Cornell band.” It might not have been AP style, but it was as near to poetry as I could get.
Christened “Delaware Dave” by Miller in 1979, I continued to build the Baltimore sports beat for Hopkins, obtaining season tickets for the Orioles, Clippers (American Hockey League) and Blast (Major Arena Soccer League). I even expanded my horizons to the arts, publishing an interview with the artistic director of the Baltimore Ballet and a season review.
The News-Letter was in transition during those years as well; we obtained sophisticated compositing equipment which allowed for accurately kerned, fully justified columns and a professional look to the paper. Thursday evenings (the paper went to press early Friday morning) were a carnival of copy editing and trips to The Ratskeller (The “Rat”) for disco night, followed by hours of paste-up.
The more precise compositing led to gaps in the paper. It was these gaps that led to my second News-Letter career, which has stuck more reliably to me later in life: that of an opinion writer. Needing to fill a few column inches, editors often turned to me for a timely letter to the editor or an op-ed, which invariably espoused a radical (and often poorly thought out) viewpoint. Almost as reliably, any opinion I wrote engendered an equal and opposite reaction, filling the Letters to the Editor page in future issues.
For me, writing letters and op-eds has stuck; I’ve since published letters in Science, The Wall Street Journal and even The Wilson Quarterly. I have been fortunate to have a number of op-eds published in The Oregonian and the Portland Business Journal.
My senior year at Hopkins, I became co-editor of the Sports section with Anne Janette Johnson, the first and most talented woman to hold that slot. More excitingly, I took over responsibility for the press run and delivery — generally arriving in Westminster at about 3 a.m. and leaving with the “hot off the press” News-Letter at around 6 a.m.
Our pasted-up and composited paper was shot on large format negatives and etched onto aluminum plates for printing. Deliveries would begin at Goucher Library and proceed to Homewood, ending with a drop at the School of Medicine.
For me, The News-Letter ran deep and provided my identity through college. Until weeks before his passing, the legendary Bob Scott (the men’s lacrosse coach and athletic director at the time) would always ask me how things were in Delaware, despite my being a New Yorker. The University’s success at lacrosse was unrivaled during my tenure, and I was fortunate to be able to travel with the team and even do WJHU’s first FM play-by-play of lacrosse away games.
I’m hoping that The News-Letter is here in some form in another 125 years. It leaves a glorious legacy of journalism for this great institution that is Hopkins.