Bruce Reed is now the deputy chief of staff for President Joe Biden. But in another life — 50 years ago — he was an aspiring business manager and reporter for his family’s newspaper. All right, maybe “family newspaper” is misleading. Bruce was 11. His sister, Tara, was 14 and editor-in-chief of the Xeroxed, biweekly Fernan Hill Times. Another youth, Chris Cheeley, helped gather the news.
“I had a blast doing that,” former state Sen. Mary Lou Reed told Huckleberries on Wednesday.Mary Lou earned the title of publisher because she typed the articles and helped lay out the paper. Scott, a longtime Coeur d’Alene attorney and Mary Lou’s late husband, was the printer.
“You see,” Tara explained to Press reporter Corinne Thompson in June 1971, “we find the news, mom types it and dad has a copy machine in his office. ”Bruce was quick to point out for The Press, “We pay dad for each copy of the paper we run off.” The Times had begun as a summer project four years before. The 14 subscribers on Fernan and Blackwell hills got their money’s worth from the three-pager.Included in each issue were feature articles, hill-top sports, “Words from the Mouth of Fernan Hill Mayor Bill Giesa,” “Blackwell Hill Chit-Chat,” and Dog Beat, a column spotlighting the local canine population. The Reeds also covered hard news, like a Fernan Hill water installation. And they sold front-page and classified ads.Oddly, Mary Lou mused, Bruce dreamed of becoming a professional writer. But he was derailed by a political path that led ever upward. His sister became the family writer.
By profession, Tara Reed Woolpy is an aquatic scientist who teaches biology online for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. By avocation, she has written and published fiction for more than 30 years, including poetry, short stories, and three books about Lacland, an imaginary, upper midwestern town. Mary Lou refers to the series as “beach reads.” The books have gotten good reviews. And it all began in the Reed sibs’ childhood home at Fernan Lake Village.
Tara Reed is an associate lecturer at UW-Green Bay in the Natural and Applied Sciences unit.