Elton Casey

I used to work at this small weekly newspaper called The News of Orange County in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and one of my coworkers was this legendary sports editor named Elton Casey who banged his stories out on this ancient Remington typewriter. He once worked for the Durham Morning Herald and he was the kind of employee who reportedly got drunk every day during his lunch hour and then would come back to the office all shitfaced, that is if he even bothered to show up at all. In other words we all looked up to him.

Casey was good friends with both UNC basketball coach Dean Smith and Duke University basketball coach Vic Bubas. In his 2005 book Blue Blood: Duke-Carolina: Inside the Most Storied Rivalry in College Hoops, Art Chansky wrote, “Durham Morning Herald sports editor Elton Casey, who had broken the story of Bubas’s retirement in 1969, was an alcoholic always on the verge of getting fired. When the newspaper essentially booted him upstairs, Bubas acknowledged the need for change but implored the management to ‘be gentle’ with the move.” Casey always engendered that type of loyalty.

As a columnist for The News of Orange, Casey would simply pull his article out when he finished writing and mark all of his errors with a pencil and sometimes even cut and paste paragraphs onto another piece of paper. Then he would hand me this torn, sloppy mess of an article and I would have to retype it into an old Apple computer from the ‘80s. I believe he had totally quit drinking by this point. Everyone in Hillsborough loved the guy and he reported on all the gossip as he hung out with the locals at the Village Diner. Within a couple of months he had a stroke and died alone in his cheap apartment. Or maybe his landlady found him on the floor and had him rushed to the hospital where he died. I don’t remember.

I didn’t know Elton that well at all, but I attended the funeral and I think about him from time to time. I even have several of his articles that I peruse sometimes. He was a great writer and always made me laugh with his antics. Back then I made just $240 a week as a sports editor and features writer but had the time of my life working there for a couple of years. My point being that I wish I had that old Remington typewriter … it sat there and gathered dust in the office before someone hauled it away.

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