Let Me Tell You The Stories I've Seen
by Ginny Kropf
November 9, 2011
One thing about working for a newspaper — you never know what you’re going to be doing next.
I could be playing solitaire on the computer one minute and the next I’m on my way to the scene of an armed robbery.
Or, like last Sunday, when I’m eagerly anticipating covering the birthday party for a 97-year-old fireman, who I happen to have known most of my life, and the next thing I know I’m in the middle of the swamp where a hunter has just died after falling from his tree stand.
I have been sound asleep at 3 in the morning, when the phone rings and a man who keeps me pretty informed of what’s going on in the area calls to tell me there’s a drug bust in town.
That one I ignored, thanked the caller and turned over and went back to sleep. After all, what are you going to see at 3 a.m. — and did I want to be walking down the streets at night in a section of town I’m not familiar with — and with druggies possibly on the loose? I don’t think so.
One time I was sent to get a picture of a tractor-trailer which rolled over on a car on the Thruway near Pembroke. The truck had gone down an embankment with the car underneath it, and the only way I could get to the scene was to walk a quarter mile in three-foot deep snow.
I have been enjoying my breakfast early in the morning when I learned of a drowning a short distance away. I felt like a fireman as I pulled on my slacks, threw my coat over my pajamas and headed out the door — camera and notepad in hand.
I have been to fatal fires and house explosions, and I’ve interviewed people who survived earthquakes and Hurricane Katrina.
Those are the unpleasant things, but all part of the job.
But not all my assignments have been tragic.
There are the airshows and the famous pilots I’ve met — General Sweeney who dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki; Colonel Morgan who flew the B-17 Memphis Belle; and Dan Sheedy, who flew one of the first planes off the Yorktown at the Battle of Midway.
I’ve written about and admired a local hero who goes to our church. World War II veteran Walter Krozel of Medina was so severely burned the nurses and his wife didn’t know him after his B-24 was hit by another plane while he waited on the runway for clearance to take off.
I’ve also had the opportunity to interview some very famous people.
Probably the first was Kitty Bartholomew, a home decorator with her own television show. She was at an Attica furniture store doing a promotion during one of my first years as a reporter.
I’ve interviewed Maya Angelou on the phone; met and interviewed former Bills quarterback Doug Flutie; and talked to Apollo 10 astronaut Charlie Duke.
I have to say, though, my most exciting encounter was with Donny Osmond. I’m old enough to have been a fan of the Osmonds when they first became popular, so I was thrilled when I learned Donny was going to be at the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra.
I often go to Palmyra for media day before their famous outdoor pageant, and when I learned Donny was there, I wasn’t going to miss that year.
I walked into the reception area where a punch bowl and cookies were set up. A man in a baggy gray sweat suit was pouring himself a glass of punch. I set my camera down and picked up a cup.
As I did so, I looked into his face and it was — you guessed it — Donny Osmond. I couldn’t think of anything to say, except ‘‘Hello.’’
Then I explained that I knew he didn’t want the media to know he was there, but that he had consented to one press conference. I asked if there would be an opportunity to ask questions.
I can’t believe what happened next. He put his arm around me, led me into a small auditorium where we sat down and he said, ‘‘What would you like to ask?’’
How did I know. I was sitting shoulder to shoulder with Donny Osmond. My mind was a blank.
But I must have thought of something, because I did write a story. The one thing that sticks in my mind is he is every bit as nice in person as he is portrayed to be on screen.
As for the opportunities being a reporter has afforded me, I’ve ridden in a B-17 several times, flown with the Canadian Snowbirds in their jet team, flown with the aerobatic Red Barons in an open cockpit biplane, ridden in a powered parachute, taken a hot air balloon ride and gone whitewater rafting.
I was invited to ride on a barge stocking salmon in Lake Ontario; I visited the National Guard practicing maneuvers on John Hucknall’s farm in Albion, where I fired one of their high-powered rifles. When the National Guard invited a reporter to fly to Fort Drum and spend the day hiking with the troops during war maneuvers, I was the one who went. I traipsed through the hot sand, hid behind a rock when the A-10s did a ‘‘bombing’” run and ate MREs under a tree.
There is one thing I’ve been asked to do several times so I could write about it, and I’m convinced the reason I’m here writing this today is because I refused — and that is parachute out of a plane. I am in complete agreement with the statement, ‘‘Why would anybody jump out of a perfectly good plane?’’
My husband kids me about being a farm girl. He says I got off my combine and now look where I’ve gone.
When a lifelong friend called recently to comment on a story of mine she had recently read, it made me realize the opportunities I’ve had.
She said, ‘‘The Ginny I remember was changing diapers and canning green beans. Who would have ever thought you’d be writing all those stories.’’