Looking Back as I Step Forward

By Becky W. Evans

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.– After six years reporting on fisheries, environment and immigration, I am leaving The Standard-Times to explore life outside the newsroom and SouthCoast. First stop, Ecuador. I invite you to follow me as I continue to cover these three beats. Simply sign up in the right hand sidebar to follow this blog.

Meanwhile, here’s a sampling of my favorite ThreeBeats-themed stories published in The Standard Times, where my colleagues will continue to “deliver your life daily.”

1. As a novice reporter, this was my first story to win a hard to come by “congratulations” from then editor Ken Hartnett. He described the story as “rich with emotion and character” in an email that I have saved ever since. Nine months into my career at The Standard-Times, this story of a fishing vessel’s near-sinking crossed my desk. I recall interviewing widow Celeste Pereira and being surprised by her honest sharing of grief.

Widow Nearly Loses Second Son to the Sea (12/15/04)

NEW BEDFORD — As John Pereira prepared to leave on a scalloping trip to Georges Bank yesterday, his mother, Celeste Pereira, begged him to stay home. Two weeks earlier, Mr. Pereira, 35, and his mates were rescued at sea after the fishing vessel Montreal sank about 150 miles east of Cape Cod, near the Hague Line in Georges Bank. Yesterday, the Montreal’s seven crewmen boarded the scalloper Paula Michelle to return to the fishing grounds that swallowed their ship but not their courage. Mr. Pereira refused to stay home.  Click here to read the full story.

2. Even as the newspaper industry started its slippery slide, The Standard-Times remained committed to telling the full story of Mayan immigrants who were deported following an immigration raid at a New Bedford military backpack factory.  The newspaper sent me and photojournalist Peter Pereira to Guatemala in search of the deportees. We had no names or addresses. A lucky encounter and a steep, dirt road led us to a remote and beautiful village. Here we met 20-year-old Gaspar, a former New Bedford resident.

Deported After Raid, 20-year-old Makes the Best of it in Guatemala (3/6/2008)

POTRERO VIEJO, Guatemala — A framed, pink certificate from New Bedford Public Schools sits on the small nightstand beside the single bed Gaspar Francisco Lopez Suar, 20, shares with his little brother. Since being deported to Guatemala in early September, the former Michael Bianco Inc. employee has become the head of his household, which includes a 95-year-old grandfather, 10-year-old brother and four sisters, ages 12 to 19. His father and older brother live illegally in New Bedford. His mother died two months after his father immigrated to New Bedford in 1999. Click here to read the full story.

3. It had been years since I went to a library to conduct research in front of a bulky, microfilm-reading machine. The Internet had allowed for swift info searches in the comfort of my own cubicle.  However, an investigation into the history of hazardous waste disposal at a local dump-turned-high school sent me trekking to the New Bedford Free Public Library. Genealogist Paul Cyr supplied me with an index of newspaper archives dating back to the late 1800s. And I reconnected with microfilm and the virtue of patience.

Digging Up the Past (12/13/09)

NEW BEDFORD — The Parker Street dump was a household name in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, especially for residents living in the growing West End neighborhood. Richard Paul, 70, grew up on Vine Street and remembers riding his bike to the sprawling dump where he and friends would shoot rats and cans with their air rifles. Fires frequently broke out at the dump, sending thick, foul-smelling smoke through the neighborhood. “The whole area, I tell you, was just a mess,” said Paul. “Everybody brought trash there. There were no restrictions.” Click here to read the full story

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One thought on “Looking Back as I Step Forward

  1. Bruce Johnson

    Hi Becky,
    I like your blog. I was sorry to see one of the best fisheries reporters leave the East Coast, but it appears you are now taking on additional ecological problems as well.
    Warm regards,
    Bruce

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