Fred has a brand new gig

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Friday, June 23, 2017

The news has been my life. I became a reporter for my dad’s little daily newspaper in Sulphur Springs, Texas, at the age of 16 in 1960. At the time, I expected to be a newspaperman until I died, just like my dad.

But life is full of strange turns we can’t predict. At age 27, I left a Chicago newspaper and became a magazine writer. What’s the difference? The best way I can describe it (I think Trains editor Jim Wrinn, an old newspaper hand, would agree) is that newspapers are more exciting to write for, but magazines more satisfying. The magazine writer gets to be more expressive (I’m not talking about political slant or bias), take more literary chances, climb out further on the limb. Anyway, the news remains my life, although now it is focused on railroading.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about those 11 years working for newspapers, the experiences I had, the people I met, the lessons I learned. A bit ago I started a blog, NewspaperDays.com. You can find it here.

As I read my yellowing clips, I’m amused by how my love of railroads popped out wherever I went, be it Sulphur Springs or Dallas or Kansas City or Chicago. I wasted no time letting the Chicago Sun-Times know it had the World’s Greatest Railfan on staff, even if the WGR had a hard time stringing four sentences together at first. My story for the Sun-Times Sunday Magazine about riding Santa Fe’s 40-hour freight Super C from Chicago to Los Angeles remains in my mind one of the worst feature stories I’ve ever written. But it was a learning experience.

So drop by NewspaperDays.com every now and then. I’ll be writing about my railroad stories in those years, including the dreadful Super C piece (ouch!) and one of the most tragic railroad head-on collisions you could ever imagine, at a place south of Chicago called Indian Oaks.—Fred W. Frailey

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