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Newspapers As History

When Joe Kollin began working in the newspaper business more than four decades ago, he began a routine. Every day the self-described pack rat had a story, he would snip it out of the newspaper and glue it onto a letter-sized piece of paper. Then he would staple it with the carbon copy version from his typewriter and the notes he took on the story. Sometimes he'd even clip on some raw documents for good measure.

By the time he retired from the Sun-Sentinel after taking a buyout earlier this year, Kollin's bedroom was full of dozens of boxes. Over the years a few things changed -- the carbon copies became computer printouts, for instance -- but his habit never changed.

When he left the newspaper, the 64-year-old Kollin dove into those boxes. He separated the articles from the notes and threw away a lot of the extra stuff. By the time he was done he had filled 39 30-gallon plastic garbage bags with garbage and he had a little more room to move around in.

"My apartment is getting bigger and bigger," he says.

The question: What to do with all those clips. He knew they had some value -- he covered Pembroke Pines for nearly two decades, the birth of Weston, the birth of Southwest Ranches, and handled South Florida's condo coverage for several years. He separated them into categories, beginning with his stuff from 1966 in Titusville where he began his career. Then there was five years at the Naples Daily News before joining the Sentinel in 1980. And now he's delivering his work to historical societies. First stop: The one in Pembroke Pines, which recieved 11 boxes of meticulously filed history a few weeks ago.

"I was thrilled," says Gerry Witoshynski, the society's director. "It's a treasure. I was glad he gave them to us instead of a larger historical society. I gave him some tips over the years, so maybe that paid off."

He's taking the rest to the Broward Historical Society and he may make trips to Naples and Titusville as well. His only problem is that he's almost done filing away his life's work. "I'm afraid I'm going to get bored," he said. "I need to find something to do next." 

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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