An Appreciation: Recalling Mike and His Story List

An Appreciation: Recalling Mike and His Story List

Mike McMorrow used to come into the editorial meeting at the Connection Newspapers building, into a room that was always too hot in summer and too cold in winter, and sit right under where the ceiling leaked, and pull out his list. He always had a cup of black coffee in one hand, and said he came for the donuts. But he had a running list of stories he wanted someone to tell — whether about housing, or over development, a questionable allocation of finances, or a pick-up basketball league that he found particularly touching, because there were men in their 60s in it. He had his ear to the ground in Arlington, and the wisdom of a man who’d lived here most of his life.

He wouldn’t always write the stories himself: he’d pick who around the table should take the story on. He was looked up to by the new interns and staff, and many of them started writing for the paper because McMorrow was an inspiration to them and would push them gently: “Follow the money,” he’d say. “Who’s profiting from that?” Or, “Did you write that story yet? What are you waiting for?” Or “Good story. Reminds me of Joseph Mitchell. What? You’ve never heard of Joseph Mitchell?! Go get a copy of “Up in the Old Hotel.” Read the story about McSorley’s Saloon in New York.” He had a soft spot for stories about Hall’s Hill in Arlington, about World War II veterans, and about the old Arlington buildings and their history.

Mike had an Irishman’s sense of humor, intensity, calm, intelligence, and sweetness that made him approachable, fun to spend a moment with, and nobody’s fool. No one knew how old he was, because he never seemed old. When he started fighting cancer, losing weight and energy, he still came to the weekly meeting, chemo strapped to his belt, his bright blue eyes dancing around the table to see who he could get to take on another story. We will miss you, Mike. May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.

Eden Brown, of Arlington, is a freelance writer and photographer.