I was a sports writer for daily newspaper The News Tribune (known as TNT for short) in Woodbridge, New Jersey from September 1974 to December 1978.
The newspaper was published by the Middlesex County Publishing Company of Woodbridge.
In the summer of 1974 I applied for the job as a part-time sports writer, having four years experience at The Home News, had my interview with Sports Editor Ron Kukulski, and was hired.
The TNT sports staff consisted of Kukulski, associate sports editor Chuck Hassol, Wayne Mogielnicki, John Wooding, Bob Wiesner, Mike Balint, Joe Cavone, Rick Malwitz, Barry Levine, Frank Bourke and Kim Muller. We often went out for drinks after work and at times even played tennis.
I was allowed to cover my favorite sport, soccer, and even my favorite team, the New York Cosmos, which I had been writing about since its inception in 1971, also for The Home News.
Other sports I covered were football, track and field, cross-country, basketball, wrestling, bowling, baseball, softball, tennis and golf.
Just for kicks was my soccer column I wrote regularly in the newspaper.
I made a deal with TNT to cover the Cosmos home and away games, which gave me the opportunity to travel with the team to major cities in the United States and Canada for three years.
It certainly will be memories I will cherish, traveling with a professional sports team and being on friendly terms with such soccer superstars as Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, etc.
As for TNT, it went through a lot of technical changes during my four years there, going from typewriters to IBM electric typewriters with scanners to VDT (Video Display Terminals). All changes which made our job easier.
When I left The News Tribune in December 1978 to take permanent residence in Greece, Kukulski wrote a very touching letter:
"I greet your resignation from my staff with mixed emotions, On the one hand, I am happy to see you returning to your chosen land of Greece. But on the other, I regret losing a person of your caliber. You have indeed been a credit to the sports department of The News Tribune.
"Your total dedication to duty has made my job so much easier. I am sure you will succeed during your next step along life's journey. I wish you only the best of everything. A sincere thank you for a job well done during your stay here."
The editor of The News Tribune, Charles Paolino, also in a letter of December 1978, wrote about my departure: "On occasions like this I am always reminded rather abruptly that one of my failings is that I neglect to let people know how much I appreciate them.
"I, too, regret your resignation because in terms of talent and dedication you have been a person of rare value to the newsroom. I'm sure you will succeed eminently in your new position and that you will be happy in your new home. Good luck!"
Throughout the years and even up until today, I have kept contact with a number of The News Tribune colleagues, thanks to e-mail.
The lowlight for me was on May 27, 1975, when Muller and I were dismissed for "economy" reasons. But the very next day, TNT began hiring the first of at least three summer-relief employees.
The North Jersey Newspaper Guild noted that it was inconsistent to be laying off on the one hand and hiring on the other. The guild also argued that the company should have offered the summer jobs to those it was laying off.
"That would have been the humane thing," said company spokesman David Winkworth, not bothering to explain why The News Tribune chose another course.
Needless to say, we got our jobs back, but that was definitely a lowlight in my career (although I must admit I was getting more money from unemployment than when I was working and I also had an opportunity to vacation in Greece that summer).
I left TNT not because I was not happy with the newspaper or its staff, but to go to Greece to begin a new career as a foreign correspondent for British newspapers and U.S. media. Choosing a Greek wife had a lot to do with my decision to return to the country of my parents.
Through the years here in Athens, covering news events for top world media and local news outlets, I have found my experiences gained at The Home News and The News Tribune have helped me cope with the demands and pressures of journalism.
Even if it had to begin with spilled coffees (see The Home News section).