The long goodbye | April 30, 2010 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - April 30, 2010

The long goodbye

by Don Frances

I'M HEADED to the hospital — and everything's fine.

It's been a great five years as your editor here, but changes are afoot: I've taken a job at El Camino Hospital, where I'll be a media relations guy.

Happily, then, I'll still be in town. But this newspaper is the last one I'll be doing for the good old Mountain View Voice.

My boss announced the change in an interoffice e-mail with the subject line "Don is heading to El Camino Hospital." Everybody thought something terrible had happened.

No, not terrible. But bittersweet to be sure. This move comes five years almost to the day since I began my tenure at the Voice, and you can't walk away from such a long and fruitful run without feeling a pang.

In that time I've written some goofy things, including problematic headlines ("More teachers getting preggers"), fun ones ("Squirrels fight back"), and a good number of these columns.

My best-received column was actually an op-ed piece — "What's eating Aaron Katz," a 2006 take-out on a Saratoga lawyer whose litigiousness was causing difficulties for local districts. The piece won me an award and, coincidentally or not, it was the last we ever heard from Aaron Katz.

I've also made a few small tweaks to the paper and instituted a few things, like the intermittent but ever-popular "Seen Around Town" feature photo. Who knew so many residents were amateur photographers?

And I've met numberless amazing people, seen a million nooks and crannies of this fair town, and thoroughly enjoyed every one of the 1,399 tacos I ate at Taqueria Los Charros on Dana Street.

A lot can happen in a half-decade, and did, especially to my profession, which saw hundreds of journalists fall by the wayside in the Bay Area alone. The general decline in newspaper revenue led to consolidation at the Voice's parent company, resulting in its offices being moved to Palo Alto not long ago. Remember that trusty old building on Evelyn Avenue, the low-slung white cinderblock thing across from the train station? We're not there anymore.

Another big change was the push to online a couple years ago, which basically forced us to shift from weekly to daily coverage. At first I worried we'd devolve into a tin-eared wire service, but I think we managed to step things up while retaining the Voice's distinctive voice.

There are so many stories I never got a chance to tell you. Like that of Mountain View resident and Army Corps of Engineers man Rock Donahue, who was promoted to brigadier general earlier this month at the Corp's division headquarters in San Francisco. (His twin daughters Morgan and Taylor are freshmen at Mountain View High School.)

Then there's Martin Littler, English troubadour of the Senior Center, who plays guitar and sings to the amusement of his peers. Somehow Littler ran afoul of the center's recreation manager after singing a specific song — though he never could figure out which one. Last I heard, a petition in support of Littler was being circulated among the seniors there.

Those stories, along with countless others, will have to wait. Luckily for Voice readers, you are now in the capable hands of Andrea Gemmet, a veteran journalist who will bring fresh eyes and ears to the Story of Mountain View while maintaining the paper's quality and character.

Adieu, then, and thanks for reading.

You can still follow Don Frances at — or look him up at El Camino Hospital.


Posted by Andrew L. Freedman, a resident of another community
on Apr 30, 2010 at 7:40 am

Dear Don,

I have always enjoyed reading your articles and a large part of the newspaper will not be the same without you. You have reminded me that, while I boast of growing up in Palo Alto, as soon as I turned 18 and had graduated high school, my first apartment was on Latham Street, then Rich Street, then . . . needless to say, I spent much of my 20s in Mountain View. I sure do miss the days of living it up in a $300 a month one bedroom apartment. Don, I have a feeling, like Jay Thorwaldson, you’ll be back in the newspaper business after you retire from healthcare. Take care, thank you for the good reading and have fun at El Camino Hospital.

Andy Freedman

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