Reading the latest installment in the Statesman-Journal's special series on local history, "Time Capsule," is something I look forward to every other week. In fact, we have often looked to these stories for both inspiration and corroboration. What fun it was for us, then, to be able to chat with the writer of the series, Andy Zimmerman.
Andy told us he worked as an assistant in the Statesman-Journal's (SJ) sports department while studying at Western Oregon University and also worked on the college newspaper. He continued with the Salem newspaper after graduating, working mostly as a copy editor designing the pages and writing the headlines. In 2013, the paper's executive director suggested he write a weekly series on local history, highlighting the many historic buildings and major events from Salem's past. He was asked to continue writing the series even when he moved on to another job at the Oregon Department of Agriculture in 2014, so the series now appears only twice a month. He describes this series as a sort of "Reader's Digest" of local history, condensed but offering enough information about the building or event to appeal to all levels of history buffs, both the casual and the ardent.
Andy then begins with cursory research on an idea to see if there is a photograph and enough background material for an article. He calls this "following the breadcrumbs," with some information leading to other discoveries and even potential future stories. If he likes what he finds, he then digs deeper into the pool of available information on his topic and begins building the story that we will later see in print.
Thank you, Andy, for sharing our mission of documenting the legacy of our people, buildings and events! They so easily disappear and are too soon forgotten, leaving frayed holes in the historic fabric that is our heritage.