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Letter from the Editor: Trivia Pursuit

by on February 28, 2020 3:08 PM

I’m always game for a good trivia question. Jeopardy is practically appointment television in our household, and the DVR is set to “record series” for those times when we’re out or doing other things at 7 p.m.

Ken Jennings or James Holzhauer I am most definitely not, but I’m OK on topics like American history, sports, and pop culture. Shakespeare? It’s Greek to me.

Recently, I was asked to make a presentation on Town&Gown magazine for OLLI – the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State. Brushing up on T&G’s history in preparation for the session was a learning experience for me.

I was quite familiar with the basics after working for more than three years in the office around T&G founder Mimi Barash Coppersmith. As most longtime readers probably know, Mimi started the magazine in January 1966 with her late husband, Sy Barash. Mimi – known as Mrs. C around the office – sold T&G in 2008 to Indiana Printing & Publishing. But she remains an active presence 54 years after the magazine’s founding with her monthly “Lunch with Mimi” interviews and through advertising sales.

For fellow trivia buffs, here are a few nuggets I came across in looking at more than 50 years’ worth of T&G covers:

  • Early covers featured one image each of “town” and “gown.” The debut issue did not identify the images on the cover. One, of a covered walkway outside a building on the Penn State campus, looks familiar, but none of us around the office last month could quite place it. I reached out to author and historian Lee Stout, a retired Penn State archivist and longtime T&G columnist. Lee says it looks like the old Pollock Road entrance to the HUB, which has since been redesigned. The other photo is of a snow-covered road in town. Do you know where it was shot?
  • Not surprisingly, Joe Paterno has been featured on the most covers, eight. T&G launched the same year Paterno became head football coach at Penn State, and their histories in the community are intertwined.

The first Paterno cover, with his wife, Sue, was in September 1972, tied to a story titled “The Winning Ways of Joe Paterno.” The most recent was February 2012, after his death in late January. It was perhaps T&G’s most sought-after publication and resulted in a special edition being printed.

In addition to the eight covers on which he was featured, Paterno has appeared on several others as part of a collage of photos, most recently in September 2018 with a story on the 50th anniversary of Penn State’s unbeaten 1968 squad.

  • Next up on the cover count? Current coach James Franklin, with four. Franklin appeared most recently, with his family, in October as the 2019 Renaissance Fund honoree.



Mark Brackenbury

Editorial Director

[email protected]


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