I started writing for newspapers when I was 15 years old. My first job was writing a weekly column about high school and I got $1.25 a column. Over the years, I have been privileged to write the stories of the people who make our communities great, whether an amazing 5 year old or a senior citizen who has lived an extraordinary life.
I am a writer, but I am also a reader. My favorite part of the day is the early morning when I sit in the quiet of the day, with my cup of coffee and my paper, reading the stories, page after page. I love the conversational style of the writers and I love the photographs that accompany the stories.
I am not alone.
"I like the paper," said Janine Webbles. "But I really like the photographs that (Daily Herald photojournalist) Laura Stoecker does. Her photos are sensitive and beautiful. They speak to me. I've saved some of them."
Webbles, who enjoys painting, has even painted one of Stoecker's photos.
"Laura did a beautiful picture of a barn once and I painted that and called it "'Laura's Barn."
Webbles came to America from France after World War II as a war bride. She was only 19.
"It was hard," she said. "I missed my family. I missed the culture."
Life was quite different in her first American home, in Texas.
"I even picked up a Texas accent," she said, with a beautiful French accent.
She always appreciated the beauty around her but she didn't start painting until three years ago when she took a lifelong learners class in painting at Waubonsee Community College.
"We started with drawing and worked on perspective," she added. "Then we learned about color and were able to work on our own."
Webbles works in acrylics. She doesn't profess to be a great painter, but she enjoys it and often heads down to the Riverwalk to paint the flowers in the wildflower sanctuary.
"I love the beauty in nature," Webbles said. "Laura captures it in her photographs."
There are times when the photo staff is stretched thin with so many events to cover. Then it falls on the writer to describe the scene.
It's been said that "a picture's worth a thousand words," but there are times when I have to describe what I see in "25 words or less." Then there are times when a curtain opens to an amazing set, or a runner emerges from an early morning run with a glorious sunrise behind him. There just aren't enough words to describe it.
Lenses and filters aside, it is the photographer's eye that sees the whole picture -- not just the subject, but the shadows, the light, the backgrounds and the foreground. The photographer captures the emotion, the laughter and the tears.
Like Janine Webbles, I can't imagine a newspaper without them.