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Memories of the PJ and Randy Mohs

Yes, the rumor is true. Randy doesn't work here anymore. His last day as general manager was Wednesday, March 11. Simply put, his position was cut.

He was on his 28th year working at the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Heck, when he started in the newspaper business, they were using linotype, a machine where melted lead was used to form individual letters which were set in a "galley" to set type. Boy, things have changed. When I started in 1994, copy was typed on a computer and printed out in column widths and waxed onto paste-up sheets. Film was developed in the darkroom and halftones (image of dots) were made and edged with border tape. Today, we put the paper together and even send it to press electronically. Plus, we have our newspaper on the Internet for the world to read.

One thing that hasn't changed, at 53 he still holds the record for being Wadena's biggest baby. On October 23, 1955, Randy Leander was born in the Wesley Hospital to Mr. and Mrs. Roman Mohs of Bluffton (I looked back in our archives and wives didn't have first names.) He was a whopper, weighing in at 14 lbs. 14 3/4 ounces.

In the past 15 years, I have learned a lot about my former boss.

He was the eighth child and the baby of his family. His mother said he was the ugliest baby she had ever seen.

He didn't go to kindergarten but started first grade when he was five.

He grew very tall.

One day, I asked him how he first developed his artistic talents. He told me how he sent through the mail for drawing lessons. I wish I could remember the name of that cartoon character ... "Draw Pokey?" Those were the days.

Around the break room table, he would share with us the good old days. One of Randy's stories which comes to mind is about a pair of mannequin legs the PJ acquired when the office was where the Super One parking lot is today. Randy and I believe his co-worker Jan set up the legs in a snowbank near the grocery store with a bag of groceries scattered nearby. They giggled as they watched the reactions to their set-up -- until the police came.

Through the years he worked in all the departments of the newspaper business; in production, editorial, sales and management. Randy has worn the hat of advertising representative, reporter, photographer, columnist, graphic designer, commercial print manager, even paper delivery to general manager.

He could always fill-in where ever needed. With a little whining, he did.

It was Randy who mastered the award-winning newspaper design and many of the special projects such as the Chamber directory. The past few years, it was Randy who wore Santa's hat during Empty Stocking.

Randy is an artist and a designer. He can draw, paint and create. He is a writer and photographer. He can sing and act, too. I look up to him, not just because he is so tall but because he is so talented. He has been my creative mentor.

One of the most treasured memories I have of working with Randy was not at the PJ but at Memorial Auditorium. Together, in one day, we painted the most beautiful backdrop scene for the Madhatters' production of the Sound of Music. It was quite the illusion. Another interesting endeavor, was when he took me to the Rockin' Rooster Cafe in Bertha and we painted a rooster design on the old wood floor using tape and spray paint. Both creative and brave.

As if the paper deadlines weren't enough at the PJ, we took on the "Your Room, Our Way" room make-over contest. I found out Randy is pretty handy building, too. Putting in a closet door was more of a challenge. Together we got the job done and we made deadline.

We made a heck of a team and that is what I will miss the most.

Good luck, Randy!