Every Saturday morning was a lesson in silos, brought to you by International Harvester. Back in the 1970s, before cable, the only TV station awake that early in the morning was Channel 2, the PBS broadcast. From the black-and-white TV in the kitchen came what were assumed to be amber waves of grain, yellow corn, red tractors, and quiet tales of keeping the livestock fed through the winter. Silos: Good. Well, except for the rats. The silo keepers were bedeviled by rats, and our sponsor was here to help. (To a little kid from Cranston, RI who’d never seen one in person, rats looked scary. To a big kid who has now lived in New York City and Baltimore, I didn’t know the half of it.)
The paper route got me up. The Providence Journal would be waiting at the corner of Mapleton and Dale, in bales not unlike the wheat I’d maybe just learned about on PBS. We (me and Shawn) piled the bales into high stacks atop an old kid’s wagon that groaned beneath the weight. It took all our strength (and balance) to coax the load up and down the streets—Mapleton to the north, Harper to the south, and the perpendicular streets between them: Dale, Boxwood, Beech, and Ash. On snowy days it was like the Settlers crossing the Rocky Mountains, I swear. But it was all we knew. Paper boy silo.
Well, the cart collapsed one Sunday, crushed by the added weight of the holiday “inserts.” And out of necessity, a collaboration was born. Shawn’s mom, like mine a nurse, had an ugly old car, a total hunk of junk. It did, however, have a trunk big enough to hold nearly all of the bales. We pleaded. She said yes.
Anyway, not the patient type even when she wasn’t awakened hours early, Shawn’s mom would peel out—the car’s back end sagging, the trunk lid bouncing—and we would sprint after her, hurtling hedges, hopping fences, dodging dogs, grabbing more newspapers, sweating, laughing, and falling down in a heap after the last paper had been properly folded and set inside the last screen door on Ash Avenue. It was completely insane, but it worked! And we learned a couple of things. Silos: Bad (wet, late newspapers equal unhappy readers). Collaboration: Good (exhausted, but job done and back in bed by sunrise).
Collaboration is the theme of our main feature in the Summer 2017 issue of Johns Hopkins Nursing (“Cross-Pollination“), and truthfully of all that we do at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Students, nurses, researchers, colleagues at Public Health and Medicine … or their mom. Anyone is a potential collaborator. You won’t always read about it in the newspaper, but the simple, everyday eureka moments that happen around here when great minds collaborate are, well, read on. And don’t forget to tip your paper carrier.
Steve St. Angelo, the son of an emergency room nurse, is a former editor for U.S. News & World Report, The Baltimore Sun, and Newsday. Since autumn 2012, he has served as the school’s editorial strategist and magazine editor. When not telling the stories of nursing students and researchers, he is very likely running an old printing press at Typecast, a letterpress business he owns with wife Mary Mashburn.