Growing up in the 1950s, I was fascinated by the substantial San Jose Mercury that landed on our porch each morning. How did they do that, I wondered as a child. All the different sections with so much information compiled every single day of the year, written, printed, bundled and delivered to our very doorstep.
Of course the answer was a large staff that knew their jobs, including those in the newsroom who kept asking who, what, when, where, why and how. The expertise ranged from the presses to the paperboys, and a huge advertising department included the Classy Lassies who showed up even predawn on weekends to take classified ads over the phone. (My older sister worked as such a "lassie" when she was in college.)
This fascination along with a love of writing led me to major in journalism at San Jose State. Working on the Spartan Daily for two semesters I discovered the joy of staff meetings -- an exciting time to discuss what was going on and how to cover it and getting to know my co-workers better.
Through the years I worked at various endeavors, moved overseas a couple of times, and raised a family, doing some writing for magazines and newspapers along the way. I was in my 40s when I was hired by the Contra Costa Times in 1993 for my first full-time reporter job, based on clippings of my printed stories, my degree and my life experience. I remember sitting down at my new desk, fingers poised over the computer keyboard, and saying to myself with pleasure, "Someone is paying me to write."
Gathering the information to write about is a huge part of the job, too, whether it be from a hesitant source or someone anxious to tell all. And I found all of it interesting, although sometimes at city council meetings at midnight my head did droop. I also learned I could brush fatigue aside when pursuing a story, and I worked best under the pressure of deadlines.
Then in January 2000 I was hired by the new Pleasanton Weekly as its managing editor, and how exciting it was to get to know the ins and outs of this community. For a few years I worked in Danville as the founding editor of the Danville Weekly, which became DanvilleSanRamon.com and brought me back to work at the Pleasanton Weekly.
In 2014 I started focusing on arts and entertainment as Tri-Valley Life editor, working part-time from home, a job that has been a good fit at this time in my life. I was also able to write feature stories about people doing noteworthy things -- and how articulate and enthusiastic they all were. Two years ago I began to write this column, which has allowed me to talk about others' endeavors or ramble on about myself.
One good thing about the pandemic has been that I am able to gather with the rest of the staff to meet on Zoom. Yes, I still enjoy those meetings to discuss what is happening and how to work as a team to produce the best possible edition each week.
The newspaper industry has undergone a massive shift and print editions are but a shadow of their old selves, but the determined Pleasanton Weekly soldiers on, with help from its readers who become members.
Now I am retiring and leaving my formal association with the newspaper world that captured my imagination so many decades ago. I will miss my talented coworkers as well as members of the public who have been so generous with information and their personal stories. Countless times I have ended telephone interviews with the thought that I would like to know the person better, perhaps become friends.
What will I do with my time? Not to worry. So many good books to read, so many great friends to spend time and stay in touch with. Writing groups beckon, my wonderful grandchildren keep me delighted, and my cat keeps me warm at night. But I sure will miss all of you.
Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is the retiring Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," has appeared on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.