Another blast from the past

The heading that appeared on my column in The Alton Telegraph during the 1970s and early 80s.
The heading that appeared on my column in The Alton Telegraph during the 1970s and early 80s.
The heading that appeared on my column in The Alton Telegraph during the 1970s and early 80s.

Fred Gowin, a Facebook friend from my old days in Southern Illinois across the river form St. Louis, tagged me in a photo on Wednesday.

Another memory from the past — the column heading for the expressions of opinion I wrote during my time as a reporter and photographer at The Alton Telegraph.

Did I really wear puka beads and an embroidered shirt in those days?

My 12 years with The Telegraph marked a lot of learning and, I hope, some maturing.  I joined the paper at 21 after a little more than four years with The Roanoke Times.

A freewheeling and often raucous life included a bright red Triumph TR-6 sports car, a fondness for scotch and the company of liberated women in what was called the “swinging seventies.”

Amy and I married and the dalliances with a variety of young ladies came to an end. We celebrate our 37th anniversary in December.

As a newspaperman, I had a penchant for going after political corruption, misuse of authority by public “servants” and the hypocrisies of life.

Some lost their jobs because of what I wrote.  Other went to jail.  A series about heroin use in Metro East St. Louis brought a grand jury subpoena and a threat from the Madison County State’s Attorney to put me in jail if I did not identify the “pusher” I interviewed in the series.  I refused and he backed off.

The Mississippi River Festival, which ran for 10 years on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, brought name rock, country and pop acts to the area and provided many opportunities for interviews and photography spreads.

The column logo changed over the years and the column went weekly to twice each seven days. The longer hair and puka beads became a shorter ‘do and a suit replaced the denim shirt by the time I wrote my last column for the final Saturday of February, 1981 — the day Amy and I left Alton for the drive to Washington, DC, where I became a Congressional press secretary, then a chief of staff, committee “special assistant,” a political operative and, finally, vice president for Political Programs for the National Association of Realtors.

It took 13 years in Washington to walk away from the bottle and a political operative life that I didn’t really enjoy.

A long-overdue return to journalism combined with life away from alcohol saved my career and my life.  On June 6, I celebrate 22 years of sobriety.  In December, Amy and I celebrate 37 years of marriage.

I spend most of my days now covering news events, writing stories and taking photos of sports and musical events for newspapers — the only profession I ever really desired and the only thing I really know how to do.


Vicki Bennington of The Telegraph wrote a feature in March about my time at the paper in Alton and the lives of Amy and I since leaving.  It brought responses and comments, mostly from Facebook, from a number of old friends and acquaintances.

One remembered a letter from a Telegraph reader who offered an odd, but still favorite:

“I don’t agree with most of what Doug Thompson he writes,” he wrote, “but I do love the way the way he writes it.”

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