Column: Fan for life: My David Letterman story

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Commentary by Donna Monday

 

Years ago, maybe 1980, I was working as the editor of a newspaper called the Sentinel Dispatch. Paper owner Pat Heidenreich and I were working late on a Monday night. Actually, we worked all night every Monday putting the paper “to bed,” as newspaper lingo goes. The paper was the only thing to get to bed on Monday nights.

That was the setting. I was watching TV while putting the paper together. Letterman was guest hosting for Johnny Carson. He was really good.

“Pat,” I said, “this is the only person who could replace Johnny Carson.”

“Call him,” she said, “and do a story.”

So, later that week I did.

Of course, he was out. His people would give him my number and he would call.

He did. I was out.

My children (You remember Sparkplug and Rainbow) had learned early on to take notes when I was gone. One of them – I think it was Rainbow – handed me a note with Letterman’s number when I got home.

Honest, I once had Letterman’s home number, back when home was an apartment in L.A.

So I called him, and we talked for about 45 minutes. I wrote a story. But I couldn’t print it anytime soon, as I had no photo. Letterman said he’d send one.

A week later, no photo. Two weeks later, no photo. Three weeks, still no photo.

Then one day I returned to our little office after an afternoon of photographing a track meet. The ad design lady, Pam, came running out to meet me. She had an envelope with Letterman’s photo in it.

“I recognized him immediately,” said Pam, who was all excited. It had taken him a long while to find the newspaper office.

Seems he started in Zionsville with a competing paper. I wasn’t there.

Someone told him to try Lebanon. He drove there and, of course, went to another competing paper.

Somebody there, God bless her, knew the name of the Sentinel Dispatch. He then found the tiny office on Noble Street.

Pam said he asked for a copy of the newspaper, which she gave him. She got his autograph on the masthead of a paper, so we could paste it up and send it out on all the papers with his story.

I’d share some juicy tidbits of that story, but I can’t. I can’t find a single copy of that paper. But I can tell you this. When a celebrity goes to that much trouble to keep a promise, he’s won this lady as a fan for life.

 


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