94-year-old journalist - "Along the Way"

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN)- Up in the Northern Hills there's a journalist who's been working in the newspaper business longer than most of us have been alive to read one.
She's 94 years old, and still working.

She's written more stories than we can count, but this time it's her turn to be the headline as we go Along the Way to Spearfish, S.D.

The Black Hills Pioneer Newspaper is in itself historic, printing papers since before South Dakota became a state.

"The very first issue published on June 8th of 1876 that was within a month of the 1st gold discovery for the Homestake Mine," says Publisher Letti Lister.

In the paper's 142 year history, there have been around 40 different newspaper titles in the Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood area, but all have been absorbed by the Black Hills Pioneer, Lister says.

94 year old Jane Carlstrom first joined the team in the mid 1940's, working for one of those other titles, the Queen City Mail.

"I started out with a Underwood typewriter that you had to hit like that," says 94 year old Jane Carlstrom as she demonstrates how hard you had to push on the typewriter keys to get them to work.

Jane's worked for the paper on and off for more than 7 decades. That's a long time.

"Yeah it is, but when you like what you do you kinda keep at it," Jane says.

So when did she first know she wanted to work in journalism?

"I just fell into it. I had really planned to be a hairdresser," Jane says followed by a laugh.

"I was doing a full page. I took pictures and did interviews and wrote club news and local news and people at that time wanted those kind of things in their paper," Jane explains.

So what does she like so much about the newspaper business?

"I guess I have an interest in people and I enjoyed interviewing people when I was doing the page and I still find myself when I talk to people, I start asking questions. and my daughter says, 'Mom you're interviewing', so I have to shut up," says the 94 year old journalist.

These days she works part time, about a half day per week, featuring interesting news items from 100 years ago, 75 years ago, and so on...something she enjoys, since she's interested in history. They keep bound volumes of the old papers, and multiple titles. And in one volume, on the page for Thursday April 2nd 1942, Publisher Letti Lister found a picture of Jane as a high school student with other students.

I asked if she could point to Jane. Letti points and shows me which one is Jane.

Turns out Jane worked on the Spearfish High School paper, the Lookout, and The Queen City Mail included the Lookout in their paper. 76 years ago.

"She embodies what we all hope to embody as journalists which is integrity, honesty, sincerity, true caring for the telling of the story, and knowing that it's going to be a permanent story," Letti says paying tribute to Jane.

Letti remembers back when Jane hit a milestone birthday and came into her office.

"Well I'm 90 years old now, you probably don't want me around anymore," Letti says Jane said. "And I giggled but knew she was serious and I said Jane we want to have you here as long as you want to to be here," Letti says.

And that, leads to this.

"How long do you think you'll keep working in the newspaper business?" I ask her.
She replies with a long laugh and says, "I don't know."

A couple more cool notes: Jane and her husband raised 6 kids, leading to 12 grandchildren, and now 18 great grandchildren.
By the way, when the Homestake Mine shut down, the Black Hills Pioneer became the oldest continually operating business in West River, South Dakota.

If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call or e-mail us to let us know.