1982 Bob "Scoop" Strongman retires as photographer
Bob Strongman has sstV & Y Yl cpSt' y Jyf Vfi";; ' 'Y- 'Y- j i been around almost as long as the Photo by Ron Ernst Transfer House. . A photo finish: from 4 by 5?s to motor drives Boh 'Scoop9 Strongman retires By BOB SAMPSON Herald & Review Special Writer In the Herald & Review newsroom, newsroom, there's a standard lecture given to all new reporters about to make their first foray into our circulation circulation area. They are brought up to date on the state of Bob Strongman's health. That's because the chances are that no matter where they go, somebody is likely to know the newspaper's long-time long-time long-time photographer photographer and to ask about him. For 30 years, Strongman has traveled across Central Illinois by plane, train, car and foot, taking photos for this newspaper as a full-time full-time full-time job. His association really goes back 36 years, to 1945 when Strongman began doing assignment work for the newspaper while employed at Pfiles' Photo Shop. After today there will be a simple answer to questions about Strongman. He has retired. Officially, due to accumulated vacation, the date comes in mid-July. mid-July. mid-July. But his last day in the office is today "I'm still going to take photographs," photographs," says the 67-year-old 67-year-old 67-year-old 67-year-old 67-year-old Strongman. "I'm going to be a free-lance free-lance free-lance photographer. In our business, that means you're either darn good or out of work." The road to this point has not been direct for Strongman, the only chief photographer and later photo editor the newspaper has had. After spending his youth working working at the YMCA in various programs, programs, Strongman ran a wholesale bread route for 10 years. "I still wake up in the middle of the night ready to jump out of bed because I think I've overslept and missed my route," he laughs. He picked up photography as a after 3 hobby. "In 1945, I decided I'd rather work full time in photography," he says. He joined Pfiles. One of his tasks was taking an occasional photograph for Decatur Daily Review City Editor Jim Beaumont, as well as the assignments assignments of Society Editor Layah Riggs. "I used to enjoy chasing wrecks and getting there before the regular regular newspaper photographers. Then I'd hand them my film and say, "That's all you need.' " But it was another Strongman activity that led to his being hired. One of his projects was a weekly photo for the Stray Scraps feature. Eventually, people associated his name with the feature to the point of calling the office and asking asking for him in order to suggest ideas. . "Beaumont called me up one day and said, 'Why don't you come to work with us instead of for us,'" Strongman remembers. That was in the spring of 1951 and marked the start of a career that would take him to more festivals, festivals, ball games, car crashes and speeches than he can remember. "I photographed every president from that point up to Ford," he says. He rode campaign trains with Goldwater, Nixon and Eisenhower. During John F. Kennedy's 1960 appearance in Springfield, Strongman Strongman verbally fenced with future White House press secretary Pierre Salinger. Strongman won' a dispute over where he could stand and produced produced photographs that took first place in that year's Associated Press competition. Along the way he helped found the Illinois Press Photographer's Association and was a two-term two-term two-term treasurer of the National Press Photographers Association. t 0 years When he started, newspaper photographers used the bulky press cameras. Under Strongman's leadership, the newspaper was a pioneer in the switch to 35mm cameras. But most Herald & Review readers readers remember Strongman on the job. "I don't think I've missed any towns in our area," he says. An accident or fire in the middle of the night was usually not complete complete without Strongman on the scene. A CB radio enthusiast with the handle "Scoop," he used the contacts contacts he made to help him monitor news events. Even after a night wading through mud or snow, you'd find him back the next morning. "Yes, the adrenalin has always flowed for me," he says. "I can be awfully tired and come into the office office and something happens and bang, I'm going. Things start moving, moving, my juices start flowing. "Newspapering is my business and I've always felt it was a 24-hour 24-hour 24-hour a day, seven days a week job. "If something happens, you go cover it. "Sure, there were some days when maybe I would have preferred preferred to stay at home and work in the garden or workshop. "But I can't remember a day when I hated to come to work." A group of Strongman's friends is organizing a dinner program to honor him for his 30 years at the Herald & Review. It will be July 24 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 520 E. North St., with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m. The program will follow. Tickets are $10 (single) and $18 for a couple. Checks may be made payable to Strongman Fund and mailed to 1915 W. Forest Ave., Decatur, 111. 62522. Tickets will be received by return mail.