Slug’s cheer will be missed
August 5, 2003
One of Truckee’s dearest friends and longtime Sierra Sun columnist Don “Slug” Brown died this week. He was 60.
For more than two decades with the newspaper, Slug kept Truckee locals updated about the wheres and whens of their friends and neighbors. He gave readers the gossip on important events, birthdays and anniversaries. And he always threw in a few quirky anecdotes or one-liners to lighten our days.
Through “Truckee Tales,” Slug showed regular readers of the Sierra Sun his personality in a way not often seen in modern newspapers. He mentioned people by their first names, and often spoke as if we all knew them. Those of you who have lived here for a long time could probably identify with Truckee Tales more than the newcomers, but most readers appreciated the small-town feel of the column.
In the editorial department, we were privileged to get a peek at the unedited version. Filled with typos and misspellings, Slug’s columns always required a heavy read, and then another heavy read. Mistakes would always slip through to the printed version, but that was part of Slug’s charm.
In the past year Slug made progress, though.
He learned how to send in his columns via e-mail, making the task of editing a little less daunting. He would call to make sure it came through, worried that the wires of the World Wide Web might be crossed that day.
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Slug learning e-mail turned an hour-long job into a half-hour job. But it was always time well spent, a reminder of why newspapers have value to readers.
The newsroom looked forward to the preview we would get of that week’s column. Something about Slug’s sense of humor struck and nerve and all of us would have a laugh.
Former Sierra Sun Editor and Publisher Peter Kostes walked Slug through the evolution to typing. Previously, he would submit his columns in longhand on a legal pad. They were rough then too, but overflowing with charm, Kostes said.
“He would say he was writing about ‘my people,'” he said. “His column was a throwback to what you’d see in the 1940s.”
Often, the Truckee Tales headline would be picked from that week’s zinger, offering readers titles such as “Some people are like Slinkies,” “When I feel blue, I start breathing again,” and, more recently, “Finding a small medium at large.” (The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large). Seemingly senseless, unless you knew Slug.
If there is a newspaper in heaven, Slug just got his next assignment. Thanks for the memories.
Jim Scripps is editor of the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com.