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My View: Newspapers, parents foster a love of writing

By Ross Feltz

Reading a recent My View column written by my sister, Charmayne Zieziula, prompted me to wonder if any family has produced three My View authors covering two generations.

I’ve been privileged to have been published twice, as has my sister. Her daughter, Naomi Feltz, has been published once. Hence, five My Views from one family.

Perhaps it was the experience Charmayne and I had as young newspaper carriers that taught us to value news and opinion. Perhaps it was our family dinners that usually had lively discussion, a characteristic that continues today with our extended family of four generations and wide political and religious views.

In those days of two Buffalo newspapers, our family got both. My earliest writing started as a young teenager writing reports about BENPAL (Buffalo Evening News Police Athletic League) baseball games for my team and then hoping they would be in the next day’s paper.

Dad used the newspaper to help me learn about sports. Mom helped us with vocabulary and spelling. I was always impressed by her word skills, which she attributed to having learned Latin at South Park High School. Both parents encouraged us to read the newspapers and learn about current events.

Our interest in writing for My View began with Charmayne’s reflection on a golf date with Dad, despite her lack of real zeal for the game. It turned out to be a memorable day for both of them.

Dad has been gone for six years now, but Mom, at 89, still leads us in lively discussions. I live a couple of hours away from her home in Angola, but talk to her most days. I need to check The Buffalo News online frequently so I can be current with her and prepared for our conversations.

Mom gets home delivery every day, partly because she knows how Charmayne and I valued that income from our carrier days. She appreciates her carrier.

In today’s changing news media world, I am grateful to think of how newspapers have impacted me and others in my family. The papers, and a special Hutch-Tech English teacher, helped me learn to like writing. That influenced me to write for the newspaper at Michigan Tech University. That, in turn, led me to a job in the sports information department, which began my career in public relations and freelance writing.

Our daughter also developed a love and talent for writing. She met her husband in journalism school. Today, she is a weekly columnist and her hubby is editor of the Meadville Tribune.

While their teenage sons may not follow the writing path, 6-year-old Lydia likes to draw pictures and dictate the stories that go with them. We have quite a collection of her illustrated story books done on photocopy paper and staple-bound.

As for Charmayne and her daughter, Naomi, I can only assume that our family blood has some ink mixed in with it. Our other two sisters are equally gifted in the literary department.

When our extended family of 35 gets together, the discussions can be boisterous, exhilarating and thought-provoking.

As I think about those snowy days when I stood at the corner of Bailey Avenue and Clinton Street selling newspapers to drivers on their way to or from work, and Charmayne walking our house-to-house route, I’m sure I didn’t think much about those who wrote for the newspaper.

Today, knowing the current state of the industry, I appreciate them and others who help foster a love for writing. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Thanks, Buffalo News.

Ross Feltz, who grew up in the Clinton-Bailey area, now lives just a couple of hours away in Meadville, Pa., and visits his family often.
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