Johnson Shares Pulitzer Prize  
Thursday, April 17, 2003

THURSDAY, APRIL 17 TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
So I've Heard Column


Like the guy that shook the hand of someone who shook the hand of a famous person, I know Ken Johnson, who came up with a piece of a Pulitzer Prize last week, but I knew his father and grandfather before him.
The staff of the Lawrence Eagle Tribune won a 2003 award for breaking news stories on the accidental drowning Dec. 14, 2002 of four boys in the Merrimac River at Lawrence.
Editorial page editor Ken Johnson wrote about the boys that lost their lives trying to save a friend, bringing their heroism to public attention. The editorials were part of the Pulitzer package.
I learned of the award when Ken's father, Donald A. "Gus" Johnson, telephoned last Monday . Kenny had just alerted his parents and they seemed thrilled. "Call him," Donald Johnson said. There was no countering the suggestion, especially after Ken's mother, Frances M. Johnson, a voice in the background, encouraged the idea.
As indicated, Donald "Gus" Johnson, once president of a union local at Cranston Print Works Co., is one of my contemporaries, and his father, the original "Gus," but also with a different given name, was the Mr. Johnson I knew as a kid. I made Ken Johnson's acquaintance when he worked as Dudley correspondent for the Telegram & Gazette. He had a responsible position at Old Sturbridge Village but news writing was more than a fascination.
Ken had career hopes and was encouraged by Mark Melady, now a city staffer but then a reporter in the Webster T/G office. Blessed with a great disposition, Dudley correspondent Johnson seemed unflappable. He married Kate Bressler after leaving his Tanyard Road home in Dudley. She had a Dudley residency in her background, so they weren't exactly strangers.
He had about 7 hours to absorb news of the major award but Ken was still euphoric when I offered congratulations. "It was a staff effort," he said a couple of times, remembering the story behind the award, recounting that day's events, and the exact moment Eagle Tribune staffers learned of the Pulitzer. I was talking with a very happy young newsman. Mr. Johnson's New England Press Association best editorial awards paled into insignificance, if only for the moment.
Ken Johnson was in the first graduating class at Shepherd Regional High School in 1973, and is probably its first alumni with a staff Pulitzer on his resume.
-oOo-
Un-shoveled walks, ice, and bitter cold can make
winter treacherous for early morning constitutionals, but cold weather is "not a problem by itself," says Andrew A. Pryga. "If you've got proper layers of clothing it can be kind of invigorating."
Mr. Pryga hits the pavement around 5:30 most mornings, covering a north to east route from his Webster neighborhood. "The cold isn't as bad as the heat can be on some mornings in the summer," he says. "There's no waiting to get home to take a shower on those real hot mornings."
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It's advertised as "The toughest glue on planet earth," but I never heard of Gorilla Glue until a Putnam friend, Leonard Boutin, mentioned the product.
I found the name amusing, causing Mr. Boutin to search for a Gorilla Glue advertisement. It came with a www. "for retailers near you." I tried the site. It returned a list of hardware outlets, lumberyards, building supply places and, get this, Southwick's Zoo in Mendon.
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Stoughton Journal columnist Mark Snyder welcomed Stoughton's new town manager, Mark S. Stankiewicz, in a recent commentary. "I think he'll bring a fresh perspective to the job," said Mr. Snyder, adding "good luck" from one Mark S. to another.
I don't know a whole lot about Stoughton, and I've never met Mr. Snyder, but I agree with him. Mr. Stankiewicz brought a fresh manner to Webster a decade ago, and he generally managed well through the years. Stoughton's gain is indeed Webster's loss.
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I remembered a mid-March conversa
-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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