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A Reunion 32 years in the making

A reunion 32 years in the making

I ran into staff photographer Gary Friedman the other day, and he told me a great tale of photographing a person twice — once 32 years ago, then again in 2010.  I thought that was pretty incredible.  That’s a rare occurrence for a newspaper photographer.  He then told me who that person was, and I screeched in delight.  [It may be because we have the same first name, but I have been a fan since I was young.]  Read on as Gary tells the story…

Not too often do I request a specific assignment, but when I heard that our newspaper would be interviewing Cathy Guisewite, I asked for the assignment.   I knew it would be special, for it was 32 years earlier that I had photographed Cathy for my first newspaper, the Southfield (Michigan) Eccentric, with a circulation of 17,000.

On a wintry Michigan day and with my old colleague Shirlee Iden, we entered a nice condominium in the northwestern suburb of Detroit to do a story on a budding cartoonist who had begun a strip called “Cathy.”   I remember (the real) Cathy being warm and affable.  With an arch of her left hand, she showed us how she deftly drew the single woman with the classic bangs who battled love, food, her mom and work.   Through the years, “Cathy” went on to become a comic-strip icon.   Our story was published February 9, 1978.

I knew Cathy would never remember me, so as we said hello (and with my video camera rolling), I carefully said we had met many years before.  Many, many years before.   And then I proceeded to tell her how I was there in the early stages of her career, for the story by the Southfield Eccentric.  She was as surprised to see me as I was happy to meet up with someone whom I had photographed for my home-state newspaper, which still holds a special place for me.   She was still as warm and affable.

Cathy started wondering about the newspaper clipping from 1978, and she went to a closet and pulled out large books with clippings from her colorful career.  Page by page she thumbed through — and there it was: “Local Cartoonist Draws Scenes From Her Life.”  There are some photographs (and people) you never forget.

And what a life it has been for Cathy (the person) and “Cathy” these last 34 years.   It comes to an end Sunday as “Cathy” is being retired so her creator can spend more time with her growing daughter.

It was a most special day for the both of us, reminiscing and catching up on the last 32 years in our lives.   As it was in Southfield, Mich., in the late 1970s, we were once again living in the same city, albeit a few years older.

A short time after our story appeared in the Los Angeles Times, I received a card with a special drawing of  “Cathy” holding a flag with the words “Southfield Eccentric” and “Cathy” saying some very endearing words.

Three decades later, Cathy, “Cathy” and a photographer had come full circle.   The card, this day, the friendship, will always be treasured.

Read the full story “Cathy Guisewite slowly turns past the comics page.

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