Founding editor tells of humble Friday Flyer start

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When my husband Vick and I moved to Canyon Lake in 1981, I decided it would be a good time to retire after years of being a corporate editor in Orange County. With my teen-aged daughters still at home, I’d spend time making memories – we’d buy a boat, spend afternoons lounging at one of the beaches and purchase a golf cart to explore our new, sleepy little community. Little did I know that I’d actually be embarking on a new decades-long career.

As a journalist, I was interested to find that there were several publications serving our town. Foremost was The Lighthouse Magazine, at that time published by Steve and Ursula Crithchfield. I wrote several articles for them after settling in as a means of meeting people and keeping up my writing skills.

There also was a paper called The Canyon Lake Chronicle, for which Dee Dee Davis wrote a column. The Home Owners Club Newsletter was yet another publication, which was compiled and typed by Patsy Bryant. It was mostly staffed with volunteers, including a committee that collated and stapled the pages and got the little publication ready for distribution. Problem was, if the committee couldn’t get together, this process could be put off any number of days, meaning the “news” wasn’t really news!

And who could forget the POA News, which mainly consisted of columns by Directors, who were usually disagreeing with one another and knocking one another’s views.

One publication that could always be counted on was The Friday Flyer, an 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper that was handed out at the Main Gate on Fridays as residents and weekenders arrived for the weekend. It included the menu at the Lodge, news of activities that weekend and security incidents (a garage door left open, a couple of loose dogs roaming a park, etc.)

Have you ever heard of the book “The Five People You’ll Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom? In it, the author describes these five people as those who influenced your life and even changed its course. For me, one of those people would be Glen Foster.

Glen, a mover and shaker here and president of the Home Owners Club, found out I’d edited publications in Orange County (working for Smith International and then Carl Karcher Enterprises – Carl’s Jr.) He asked me to edit a new publication in Canyon Lake to replace the Home Owners Club News. He wanted to call it The Community News.

Tired of the lazy days of retirement, I was happy to take him up on his offer and became editor of his newsletter in 1982. I have always been deadline-oriented and was determined see that the news was delivered in a timely manner.

Bill Stewart, then the new POA general manager, liked what I was doing and asked to merge the POA News with The Community News. Kathy Bennett, a friend whom I’d worked with in Anaheim, sold ads.

Looking back, I have to laugh at how amateurish that little newsletter was. I wrote the articles on an old Epson computer, pasted them onto a “dummy” and used an old label machine to prepare headlines. We didn’t have the ability to print photos, so I used a lot of clip art.

The POA set up a telephone line for me on which residents could leave messages for classified ads. I’d listen to these messages, transcribe them and publish them as a service to the community. Since I worked from home, I had a clay pot attached to the stucco wall outside my front door into which people could place their club news, news briefs and other blurbs. Amateurish or not, residents loved the little monthly newsletter.

I remember taking a copy of The Community News to Chuck Golding, publisher of the Lake Elsinore Valley Sun-Tribune, and telling him to consider it a big news release to promote Canyon Lake and let our neighboring city know what a great community we had. While I’m sure he appreciated my writing skills, I knew the businessman in him was more impressed with the revenue potential.

I was right. In the mid-80s, Chuck came to me and to the POA proposing that the Sun-Tribune publish our little newsletter in exchange for the ad sales it would generate. We called it The Canyon Lake Community News – a real newspaper – and all of a sudden I felt like a professional again, with a great partner named Chuck Golding.

But it wasn’t all roses. There also was a paper at this time that called itself The Canyon Lake Elsinore News. Its reporters were always looking for conspiracies and for “dirt” on some member of the Board – and unfortunately, many people confused our paper with it since the names were so similar.

This was disheartening since I always strived to be fair and objective, showing both sides of any and all issues – like should Canyon Lake sponsor a fireworks show on the 4th of July (you’d be surprised at how many people were against it) and whether or not the Lodge restaurant should be managed by a professional company. I attempted to interview people on both sides of a controversy – and you’ll note our publication never took sides or printed an editorial page.

The Friday Flyer newspaper was born in November 1990 when Golding Publications took over publication. It combined community news with POA news.

A few years later, a disgruntled Board canceled our contract, deciding to print the POA news themselves. The community was in an uproar. The Board’s short-lived journey into the world of publishing ended up costing the POA much more and the entire issue was taken to court, as Chuck discusses in his article. All of this was resolved and The Friday Flyer ownership was transferred from the POA to Golding Publications as part of the settlement.

In June 2007, I stepped down as editor after 25 years of a successful and satisfying tenure, leaving the paper in the more-than-capable hands of Sharon Rice. It’s been a wonderful ride.

And, Chuck, just so you’ll know, one of those five people I’ll meet in heaven is you!

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