Woman’s writing opens up numerous careers
CORTLAND — Both when she taught elementary school and after she retired, Cortland resident and historian Sally Lane said she always made time for writing.
Her first articles were published while she was still a student at Conneaut High School.
“I have been writing since I was 16. I had a nature column when I was in high school for the Conneaut News-Herald. I wrote about birds and wildlife. I covered the Audubon tours that they had in the area. There were a lot of different lake birds, like trumpeter swans, warblers,” Lane said.
She said writing has sustained her as she has written for area newspapers, large and small.
“I enjoy interviewing people and covering events and letting people know what is going on around town,” she said.
Growing up in Conneaut, Lane said her family lived in a quiet neighborhood. The family’s home was next to a cemetery.
“I used to have so much fun watching the birds and animals at the cemetery,” she said.
While she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, she wrote a nature column for the Tribune Chronicle. She also covered meetings and events as a correspondent before becoming the Newspaper in Education coordinator for the Tribune.
“I went into the schools and spoke to students on ways to use the newspaper and teaching reading and other skills using the newspaper. It was a lot of fun being able to speak to the students and teachers. I think I knew every country road in the county when I went to the different schools,” Lane said.
Lane started her teaching career in Bloomfield-Mespo in 1967 after an unusual job interview. She worked as a medical technician at Trumbull Memorial Hospital while finishing her degree. One of her patients was superintendent for Trumbull County schools.
“I was finishing college and had enough teaching credits, so he asked me to finish the year in first grade in Bloomfield-Mespo” to fill a vacancy, Lane said. “That teaching experience opened my world, and I wanted to be a teacher so I finished my college degree.”
After she taught that first year at Bloomfield-Mespo, she needed to finish her bachelor degree, so she worked at Copperweld in the payroll department for 11 years while attending Kent State, finishing her degree at age 30.
“My writing then consisted of papers for school,” she said.
After she completed her degree, Lane married her husband, Ralph, and they became the parents of two children, Rick and Lauri. She said she and her husband have four grandchildren.
“I also sold World Book Encyclopedias. Every weekend for a couple of years, I’d jump in the car and drive through the county looking for homes that looked like they had kids who might need those books,” Lane said.
Lane said writing for the newspaper and book selling funded her master’s degree, and she said she was lucky enough to start teaching full time when her children were 9 and 10.
She was covering a Lakeview school board meeting for the newspaper when school officials noted they needed a reading teacher. She told them she had just finished her master’s degree and was hired the next day.
Lane taught grades first to fifth as a reading specialist for Lakeview schools.
“I always enjoyed the excitement the students had for learning,” she said.
She taught two years at Maplewood and 19 years at Lakeview. She retired in 2008 yet continued to write for a community newspaper.
Besides teaching and nature, Lane said she always has been interested in history. That led to becoming active with the Cortland-Bazetta Historical Society after moving to Cortland. She, along with Mary Lou Reese, Dorothy Klein, Grace Allison and Mary Case, compiled the history of Cortland and Bazetta.
“When they found out I could write, they recruited me to help write the local history,” Lane said.
While her husband was a Cortland native, Lane said she soon loved the city and what it had.
“I have always loved Cortland. Those women put their arms around me and said I was going to help them write. I loved doing the research for what I was writing about. I would go to the library and do research and go and speak to people to gather information,” Lane said.
Lane herself has written four books, including “B is for Bazetta, C is for Cortland” and “A Walking Tour of Cortland.”
After she retired from Lakeview schools, Lane was approached by the Trumbull County Educational Service Center to be a reading specialist at Bloomfield-Mespo Local Schools, where she had started her teaching career. While there, she also wrote a children’s ABC book about Mesopotamia.
“Working in Mesopotamia was like working in another century. I remember if a child forgot lunch, a mom would pull up to the school in a horse and buggy with the child’s lunch,” she said.
Lane said when doing research she was fascinated by the Opera House in Cortland, where she does a lot of her work. The building was former church constructed in 1841.
“I enjoy learning about the little nooks and crannies of the historic buildings and how Cortland’s downtown was developed and brought into the 21st century,” she said.
She said the historical society purchased the Opera House in 1987 and since then hundreds of programs have been held there, with plans being discussed for an art show with local artists in 2021.
“I have been doing a lot of research on Cortland. A lot of the history is sitting in my family room at home,” Lane said.
She said she is proud of the writing she has done in her life.
“I was not planning to be a writer. Whenever I was out of work or even when I was working and had free time, I would write. It then began to get published,” she said.
Lane said she’s now working on a book on the historical homes of Cortland.
“The constant in my life has been writing, and it has been interesting and fulfilling.
“What do I hope to do now? I hope to write books with my four grandchildren about their lives and things they love, write a history of mid-century Cortland and get my scrapbooks in order. That should take me the rest of my life,” Lane said.