Weird veggies draw attention

September 23, 2000

Weird veggies draw attention

I called my mom a couple of weeks ago to tell her I was going to be on the evening news.

WJZ-TV Channel 13 in Baltimore had come to Hagerstown that day to do a story on The Daily Mail's feature of running photos of local people holding odd-shaped vegetables.

The TV station learned about The Daily Mail's veggie feature by reading a story about it in the Baltimore Sun of all places.

So I told my mom to watch me on TV. It's not every day I get interviewed for a story about the paper.


"Did the paper win an award?" she asked.

"No, not exactly," I said.

"Did the paper uncover something?" she asked.

"Well, kind of," I said.

I'm still not sure my mom ever really understood why I was going to be interviewed on TV.

I'm not sure I do, either.

Andy Warhol said everybody gets 15 minutes of fame. I guess I used up about a minute and a half of mine talking about weird vegetables. I muddled through the interview, saying something about how we don't judge the vegetables, we just put them in the paper.

But I'm really not sure why people want to have their photos taken with weird vegetables. Maybe it's that Andy Warhol fame thing.

Maybe that's what inspires a Lloyd Forsyth, of Valley Road in Hagerstown, to figure out a way to grow a zucchini in a soda bottle. We ran his zucchini-in-a-bottle photo on the front page earlier this month.

Bob Fleenor, one of the Daily Mail editors, thought about writing a headline that said, "I dream of Zucchini," but settled for something just as clever.

Maybe it's that moment of fame that pushes H.L. "Shorty'' Cosgrove of Hagerstown to inspect his crop closely for odd-shaped growths. Cosgrove says he can't go many places where people don't say, "Aren't you the guy I see in the paper all of the time with those weird potatoes and such?"

Since we changed the format of The Daily Mail about a year ago to get more local news in the paper, we've received a lot of interesting stuff from readers that I really enjoy seeing in the paper.

The vegetable photos are part of that local flavor.

Daily Mail editors Fleenor and Arnold Platou have done a great job of getting the local items in the paper where stories and photos from the wire services used to run. There's been a lot of interesting Scouting news items and news from the various senior citizens homes and assisted living centers in the paper.

What all this has done, in my opinion, is transform The Daily Mail into more of a hometown newspaper that reflects the lifestyle of its readers.

We hired correspondents to cover the various small towns in the county. We also added part-time staff members Jennifer Silbert and Mike Sirbaugh. Silbert writes stories and takes photos of news events for The Daily Mail and Sirbaugh specializes in youth sports.

So if you want to get a news item in The Daily Mail, there are many opportunities.

You can call your town correspondent if you like. Their phone numbers are posted with their columns.

If you think your news event is something other readers would like to see, call Jennifer. You can call her at 301-733-5131. She's usually here in the afternoons.

If it's more youth sports you want, call Mike at that same number in the evenings.

If you find a potato that looks like Andy Warhol, call me at my desk at 301-791-7647.

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