2017-03-29 / Features

Columnist, 90, Wishes Gazette Many More

BY JOHN TOSCANO

On March 20th, I celebrated my 90th birthday. As you might expect, the good wishes and celebrating were great fun, but it all triggered many memories of my life and career as a newspaper man, which has been spread out over 67 years, covering my years at the Daily News starting in 1950, plus the work on the Gazette as its owner, and as a contributor to this day.

When you add my early years, plus time I spent in the US Navy and my four years to get a degree at Syracuse University preceding my first job at the Daily News, it all adds up to 90 years. Sharing this time with me also was my wife, Mary, who passed away in 2013, and our children, Louis and Linda, and their children.

Getting back to the Daily News, following college I took a job there as a copy boy in August of 1950, and 7 years later was moved up to writer-reporter status.

My first assignments with the Daily News were general news coverage and a weekly political column covering Queens political news. Eventually, a similar arrangement was made covering Brooklyn pols which ran in the Brooklyn edition. Around 1975 I was transferred to the staff covering City Hall and the mayor’s office and staff, and the City Council. Under this setup it was very easy to gather the political news to fill the two weekly pol columns I was responsible for.

But as I was nearing retirement age, I was giving much thought to that. The public officials that I was in contract with every day were well aware of my pending retirement and many took the opportunity to engage me in conversations about my post-retirement plans. Given my situation with retirement nearing, I was obliged to be frank and honest with them also.

In this atmosphere, and figuring what my options were and what opportunities I might be able to take advantage of, I decided to retire from the Daily News in 1983 at the age of 56. My total time with the News, which included writing political columns for many years, was 33 years, from 1950 to 1983.

Part of the reason I decided to take the News buyout offer was that I felt I was still young enough to pursue other possibilities, such as taking over a weekly neighborhood newspaper, or working on one until I might be able to acquire one. This actually occurred in 1983 when I purchased the Western Queens Gazette, which had started up in the Astoria-Long Island City area and reached into nearby communities such as Elmhurst, Woodside and East Elmhurst.

I operated the Gazette for seven years, when I decided conditions were right for me to let it go, and it was sold to its present owner, who retained me on his staff.

My relations with owner, Tony Barsamian, were straightforward, honest and respectful when he purchased the Gazette, and have continued in a like manner in our employer-employee relationship. Tony is in his 27th year as publisher and owner of the Gazette, and I have been in his employ for the same period. I plan to be around for a couple of years more if he’ll have me. Whatever the future holds, he will always have my best wishes.

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