After 10 years at The Brazil Times, she's boxing up the pictures and signing off the computer. Carol Swearingen is retiring!
The editorial lady will be hard to replace. The multi-tasking, that may or may not be in her job description, has included editing "The Weekender", including the popular feature, "A Look Back in History", writing news briefs and obituaries, proofing pages and planting and tending to the flowers in front of the office. Her job description has changed over the many years she's spent in the newspaper business.
Her career started at the Terre Haute Tribune Star in 1971 as a copy handler. She learned to write obituaries then worked her way up to being a reporter. Carol also worked in women's news.
One of the duties of a copy handler, in the dinosaur days of publishing, was the elite task of cleaning paste pots. Back then stories were typed on 8x10 newsprint paper and the stories were pasted together.
A wheat paste was concocted and put in old coffee cups then brushed on the paper with paint brushes. The cups, or paste pots, set out all day. The contents would dry out and get crusty. Frequently the pots were used for other purposes such as an ash tray. The wheat paste seemed to be a good base for all kinds of foul-odored things to grow.
As copy handler, Carol had the thankless job of cleaning the smelly, disgusting paste pots daily. It was a chore she was glad to relinquish when she was assigned a news beat.
Carol learned the newspaper trade in Terre Haute. After 16 years, due to wanting to pursue other personal interests and increased family obligations, Carol left the news business.
Later, she spent a couple years as the co-ordinator of the Clay County Literacy Coalition. She was content with her life when then-Times Editor Jim Dressler called and asked if she would help out "for a while."
"I guess I still had ink in my veins," Carol said, "so I said I'd fill in for a few months."
At that time The Brazil Times was owned by Nixon Newpapers Inc., Peru, Ind. The boss was Joe Redenbarger, newspaper publisher. Cecil Davis was sports editor. Karyn Shinske handled general reporting duties. Dave McFaddin was advertising manager. Earl Hutcheson managed production and Fred McDonald was circulation manager.
Originally from Terre Haute, Carol was a Garfield High School graduate. She was a high kicker for the Purple Eagles drill team, but it wasn't called a drill team back then.
Carol had spent a lot of time in Brazil while growing up because her grandparents lived here. She moved to Brazil several years after graduation and later married Fred Swearingen on Nov. 27, 1977. Their combined, "eight is enough" family included her three children, Tina Payne and Jeffrey and Kenneth Thorlton and Fred's five, Fred D., Thomas, Jeffrey and Todd Swearingen and Jane Ann Rogers.
Their family now includes eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Carol is looking forward to spending more time with the grandchildren in her retirement.
"I could just sit and watch them for hours," she beamed when discussing the pleasure she gets from the grandkids. "They're just fascinating, watching their little minds work."
Besides being a devoted grandma, Carol is also very active in First United Methodist Church of Brazil. She's an avid bowler and is a member of the Best of Thymes herb club. Carol loves gardening and can hardly wait to get out and start digging in the dirt.
"All it would take to make me happy now," she said one day talking about her retirement plans, "is to have a really great compost."
But she'll have more to do this summer than making a compost recipe. For their 25th wedding anniversary, Carol and Fred's children gave them a trip to Hawaii. Also, as an anniversary gift, their son Jeff Swearingen and his wife Tonya are taking Carol and Fred on a Caribbean cruise this spring.
Current Times Managing Editor, Frank Phillips, said, "When I came to The Times in March, 2001, I found Carol to be an integral part of the news room. I appreciate her work so much and I know we're going to miss her in the future. But I wish her the best in her retirement."
The entire staff at The Brazil Times wishes Carol Swearingen a very happy retirement. Her last day is Friday. We'll miss you, Carol.