Dick Brooks was Saratoga Springs' old-school journalist
In later years, he disappeared, local contacts severed or lost. Bad habits and bad health were his sad undoing, and he died Saturday in a nursing home in Bennington, Vt. I hope there will be a good turnout for his funeral Friday at St. Peter's Church.
My first beat at The Saratogian in 1977 was City Hall, and Brooks was already on board as the seasoned columnist.
He taught me to stop at the door of the City Council chambers and take in the scene -- who's sitting with whom, how big is the crowd, what's the mood -- and to sit in the audience, rather than at the table set up for reporters. Better to be closer to the real people who you might need to catch up with during or after the meeting than to be separated and basically trapped with the other reporters.
He also beat this rookie, week after week, with scoops in his column that I tried but failed to get all week long. He charmed the secretaries and got longtime pals to save the juicy stuff for him. Though we worked for the same publication, we were competing for city news. There was no contest.
But it was fun. It was memorable. And no matter how technology changes, there will always be the need for people with a passion for digging out the news and reporting it.