My character, Ted Neary, not surprisingly was a widely-read Newsday columnist who was the catalyst in transforming protagonist Billy Plunkett from an obscure wood sculptor into one with a national reputation.
Ted Neary enters the novel in Chapter Forty One:
First Billy spotted the old Plymouth Horizon parked in front of the house, then he saw the guy sitting on the front porch in the rocker with his feet propped up on the railing, slugging beer from a bottle.
He wanted to find out what the stranger was doing on the porch before he unloaded his gear. He walked up the porch steps and immediately recognized him. Ted Neary. The wire glasses, the black mustache and thick black hair on his head. Even the baggy sports jacket. He had seen Neary interviewed on TV and his picture in the paper a couple of times a week. He remembered the opening words of the column he did on Tommy Ledge a good number of years ago. “When Tommy Ledge, Huntington’s legendary clammer, isn’t scooping up those delicious bivalves somewhere on Huntington Bay, he can be found on his favorite bar stool in Sugar’s.”
“Hey,” Neary said with the grin that was part of his anatomy as Billy came onto the small porch.
Billy responded, “My name is Ted Neary and I write a newspaper column.” That was Neary’s pitch on radio and TV ads for his column. “Why are you here? You looking for another legend?”
Neary’s grin grew stretching almost to his ears. “I thought you might like a beer,” he said proffering the cardboard carrier with four Budweisers left in it.
“Looks like you had a two beer wait.”
“Nice day. I didn’t mind. How’d the clamming go today?”
I remember writing about the Ted Neary character with pleasure and with a clear vision of the beer-drinking, always smiling Ed Lowe in mind.
I worked with Ed for 30 years. Among my brightest memories was a night before Christmas Eve in the early 1970s before he became a columnist. Ed had an assignment to do a human interest story in keeping with the season. He wrote the item in verse to the beat of the Night Before Christmas. Before the story even reached the desk almost everyone in the city room had read and enjoyed it as an original, hilarious piece of writing.
The editor on the desk, who was rather a stiff, straight-laced creature, flashed through Ed’s offering and said with consternation on his face: “We can’t print this; it rhymes.” His reaction filled the city room with a mixture of contempt and laughter.
I’m not sure, but I think Ed’s version got in that Christmas Eve edition of Newsday. If it didn’t, it should have.