By Lois Sturdivant
Early in 2004, Sue came to me to pick my brain about the idea of her buying a monthly newspaper. I didn’t hesitate to tell her I thought doing so would be “right down your alley.” Sue bought the Columbia River Reader and published the first issue in April 2004. If anyone had told us that the Columbia River Reader would make it to 100 issues, we probably would have been incredulous. It has been an amazing journey.
Since Sue’s mother and my mother-in-law were cousins, we had met briefly over the years at family reunions and craft shows where the cousins sold dried flower creations. But we had really connected during our term in 1998 as Cowlitz County Freeholders (to help write a new County charter).
After chatting at one Christmas Bazaar, we got together to brainstorm about starting our dreamed-of design/wordsmithing consulting firm, “Publications with Pizazz,” and Sue later wrote stories and the business column for The Daily News.
After surveying her “circle of advisors,” including me, she struck a deal with Randy Sanders. Off we went to Comp USA in Portland and bought one of the first iMacs with a flat monitor. Puny by today’s standards, it seemed gigantic to us!
We knew just enough about Pagemaker and Freehand to be dangerous and plunged into this new adventure with gusto. We encountered many crises — problems with typefaces, frozen and corrupted files — usually while burning the midnight oil, of course! Sometimes we had to call the doctor (Adobe), and we resisted but eventually had to make the transition to new programs, InDesign and Illustrator after Pagemaker and Freehand were no longer supported.
Each issue is like a child — sometimes a problem, sometimes recalcitrant, sometimes quite cooperative — but we are always sure each issue will be perfect. We affectionatey refer to Columbia River Reader as the “Little Monster.”
Of course, many people are part of the process, from the ad representatives and designers to the writers and proofreaders. Once the “child” is delivered to the printer, there is a collective sign of relief, but not for long. The next issue is already in the works.
I feel honored to be part of the Columbia River Reader, and look forward to the next 100 issues — this is certainly possible. Some alleys seem to go on forever.
Lois Sturdivant, a recently-retired administrative assistant for a financial planner, now has time to help even more with producing Columbia River Reader. After 100 issues, she and the publisher/editor have developed a special relationship and with pet names for each other: Lois is known as “Graffita,” a spinoff from the word “graphics,” and Sue Piper is “Nellie,” based on the story of Nellie Bly, who worked as an inquisitive reporter taking an adventurous and spirited “closer look” at the world around her.