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Exodus of former Luminary staffers

By Staff | Jan 12, 2012

Gene Winter, former Luminary owner, donated a Mutchler family rocker and other items to a local museum before he and his wife, Eileen, sold their Huntersville property and moved to the Masonic Home in Elizabethtown.

As though in synchronization, four former members of The Luminary staff recently moved from the area. They include Eileen and Gene Winter, Vivian Daily and Joan Blank. Following are bits of information from the times of their involvement.

The Winters, former owners of The Luminary, recently relocated to the Masonic Home in Elizabethtown. According to Gene, the couple sold their property at his native Huntersville, “lock, stock and barrel.” As Eileen needed a special diet, Gene admitted he wasn’t a good cook and gave up after six months of kitchen duty.

The Winters’ purchased The Luminary from Don Wilt in 1983 operating it until 1986. Writers were Eileen Winter, Ruth Steck and later Vivian Daily came on board. According to Gene, “I did everything else no one wanted to do, including filling orders at the print shop located in the rear of the Main Street building next door south of the Muncy Post Office.”

According to Winter, by purchasing a Macintosh computer, The Luminary was the first newspaper in the county to go to desktop publishing. The computer saved so much time that three days later they bought a second one. As a result, they closed out the linotype and cold type machines with a total of 6,000 pounds of cast lead taken to Simmons junkyard.

They continued having a dark room for processing photos. During this time, printing was taken and done at the Milton Standard.

Gene recalls a letter to the editor sent by Muncy resident, Don Dorsett. He alerted the public that no proper plans were made to get in and out of downtown Main Street during an upcoming grinding down and resurfacing. “As Dorsett had predicted, it was a fiasco,” Gene said.

As owners, the couple dreamed of offering The Luminary as a free paper. When it didn’t come to fruition, they sold it to the Sullivan Review.

As a cyclist, Gene kept the paper abreast of happenings with his current pet project for the area, the formation of bicycle paths and crossings.

Gene continued with his passion for photography and was often seen shooting at antique machinery shows resulting in some of his photos chosen for calendar use.

During Vivian Daily’s tenure as editor, a poll was taken among long distance subscribers who named her column, “No one asked, but . . . ” as their second favorite item, topped by “Peeks of the Past.” These musings featured family members and anonymous friends, and although the basis was factual, a bit of embellishing was sometimes added.

The most horrific event of historical nature while Daily was at the helm occurred on September 11, 2001. It was a Tuesday morning, the entire staff working to meet a four o’clock deadline. About 11 a.m. Jim Lundy, advertising representative at the time, came for his usual check-in with an unusual announcement. On his car radio, he’d heard the news of planes striking New York’s twin towers, the event was two hours old yet new to those in the office. Daily went on the Internet, pulled up a photo, put it atop the front page and reconfigured the entire paper. Many changes in getting the paper to print evolved under Daily’s watch. When she came aboard, The Luminary was owned by the Winter’s. Later when Daily became editor, trips were made to the Sullivan Review in Dushore for printing. These were the days of the “cut and paste” system. Text was typed in columns, then cut to size with X-acto knives and glued to mock-up newspaper pages.

After The Luminary was purchased by Ogden Publications, of Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1991, the print destination was the Sun Gazette in Williamsport. Eventually the process evolved to computer pagination and transferred via the Internet, eliminating the need to physically deliver the newspaper.

Daily retired from the newspaper business in 2005, serving on the Muncy borough council for six years. Her husband recently retired and the couple moved back to Vivian’s native New Jersey to be near children and grandchildren.

Joan Blank, Montgomery Locals correspondent, and husband Steve were tired of dealing with cold weather, shoveling snow, bitter cold winds, icy rain and dreary days. Blank said, “In the past when we vacationed in North Myrtle Beach with friends, we enjoyed the balmy weather and the beach. There Steve had opportunity to golf and we began talking about retiring to South Carolina.” The couple researched homes for sale and finding good deals made a purchase in August. “Our friends built a home nearby,” Blank said. She taunted locals here by sharing that on December 31, the temperature at their new home was 66 degrees, skies were blue and the sun was shining. “We decided to move now, experience new things, enjoy our time together and see what the future holds for us. Why wait?”

It is expected these special persons who came into our lives through the pages of The Luminary, will return from time to time.

The Winters’ and Blank have relatives in the area. The Daily’s will return for a visit in March.