Sarah Morrow, the first editor of the Brentwood News, joined with Brentwood News founder Jeff Hall at the Coral Tree Café recently. Sarah has been gone from Brentwood for so long that this was the first time she had ever visited the Coral Tree Café. If you look closely – between Sarah and Jeff – there is a “Best of Brentwood” award given to Coral Tree Café by the Brentwood News.
I was recently paid a surprise visit by Sarah McCormick, who served as the first editor of the Brentwood News when we first started in November of 1991. She was 23 at the time.
She is now Sarah Morrow, married with three grown kids. She lives in Minneapolis and has been there for 24 years.
Sarah is in her fifties now, hard to believe. She has hardly changed.
I recently reached out to Sarah because my own daughter, Katie Hall – who grew up in Brentwood – just got a job as animal welfare director at the Minneapolis Zoo. Sarah knew Katie when Katie was a very little girl.
Katie and her husband and two kids will be moving there shortly from Wichita, KS. It will be nice for them to have a local contact in Minneapolis as they rush to find a place to live.
As it turns out, when I emailed Sarah asking if she might help Katie, she said she was arriving in LA the very next day! She was coming to watch a choir performance that would include her daughter, Virginia, now a student at UCLA. We, of course, took Sarah in, and she stayed with us for two nights.
When I first met Sarah back in 1991, I was gearing up to start a community newspaper in Brentwood and suggested she help me. Sarah stayed at our house up in Crestwood Hills. Sarah and I spent months in my garage office, planning the launch of the Brentwood News. She was very good with computers, and we spent hours designing pages. It was great fun.
As we got closer and closer to launching the paper, Sarah started reaching out to Brentwood leaders, knocking on doors, making calls, and visiting everyone face-to-face. We faced much skepticism in the early days. Many wanted to know who we were, what our agenda was.
Others wondered if a community paper could even make it in Brentwood. Brentwood was, and is a very private community, and some wondered if the locals would even want a community paper snooping around.
The Brentwood News was never the snooping type; we were there to celebrate and showcase all the great things going on in Brentwood. Many had no clue about all that was going on until the Brentwood News came along. Sarah was embraced and adored by all the homeowner groups, the chamber of commerce, and all the volunteer organizations that characterize Brentwood.
Sarah became very knowledgeable about the VA and the local schools and came to know most of the merchants along San Vicente and in Brentwood Village. She was the best ambassador the Brentwood News could ever hope to have; everyone loved her. Many credited the Brentwood News as having created a sense of community in a place that had never really had one before.
The startup year was incredibly grueling and intense. Getting things started from scratch is always a heavy lift. We were getting to know the town – and getting to know our computers, new software, and our super-duper printer, which could print out newspaper-sized pages.
We rented a cute little office tucked away at 11950 San Vicente, close to Early World (now gone). We bought a bunch of furniture at IKEA, and we spent several days assembling furniture.
Digital newspaper production was a new thing in those days, and the technology has only gotten much, much better over time. Preparing a photo to appear in the paper required many steps in those days; with today’s cellphones, it’s a snap.
If someone sent us an item via our fax machine – new at the time – we had to retype it into our computer. Email – not available when we started – makes it possible to simply copy and paste.
We had a very young team who liked – in college dorm fashion – to pull all-nighters as we approached our monthly deadline. They often spent 72 hours at a time with no sleep at all. I wasn’t into that and went home at night.
I remember arriving at the office one morning and wondering where everyone was. We were on deadline and had a paper to get out! Then, as I walked through the office, I could see legs sticking out from beneath desks. Several of our young staffers were curled up on the floor, covered with blankets, and resting on pillows they had brought from home.
I tried my best not to wake them for as long as I could, as I’m sure they were up until the crack of dawn. But at some point, we needed to get moving again. Being the mean old boss I was, I called them back to life.
This pace was ultimately unsustainable, and after a year, Sarah was very burned out. She decided to leave the Brentwood News, and everyone in Brentwood was mad at me for allowing her to get away. Few in Brentwood now recall Sarah, but those who do still miss her.
I’m happy to report Sarah has put all her Brentwood News training to excellent use. She now works for a congressman from Minnesota, Dean Phillips. Sarah serves as Congressman Phillips’ community organizer and campaign manager. Phillips is known for his bipartisan approach in a highly partisan era. He is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
In her role, Sarah needs to have her finger on the pulse of everything that moves within the congressman’s West Minneapolis district – skills she developed beautifully during the startup phase of the Brentwood News. When it comes to community outreach, Sarah is simply the best.
Though Sarah was cranky with me when she left Brentwood in 1992 – she was bone tired – we are good friends now. We now view the first days of the Brentwood News as “the good old days.” We have stayed in touch from time to time over the years.
And now my daughter and her family will soon arrive in Minneapolis! And her daughter is always welcome to sneak over here if she tires of dorm food at UCLA.
Funny how things work out in the end.
The Brentwood News isn’t what it used to be – no newspaper is these days – but somehow or another, we still print some copies each month. The paper is available mostly in racks and at Vicente Foods — and we can be found online at BrentwoodNewsLA.com. [Editor’s note: Brentwood News newspaper is printed once a month in the last week of the month]
Once this issue is done, I’ll be sending a link to Sarah in Minneapolis. We surely couldn’t do that way back when. Nobody had websites in those days.
Want to get in touch? Send me an email: email@example.com.