Longtime readers of The Minot Daily?News enjoyed the uniquely stylistic writings of Merrill Schalow for more than 30 years. Merrill passed away April 21, at the age of 87, but his presence will forever be felt in this building.
The Scribe, as he came to be called, began working in the sports department in 1958. He retired from The Minot Daily?News in 1985, although he continued to write The Sporting Life columns into the early 1990s.
Merrill was senior sports editor at The Minot Daily?News when I began as a part-time sports clerk answering phone calls and typing up scores and results in the early 1980s. The picture I'll forever keep in my mind is of Merrill sitting at the computer terminal (although he preferred typewriters) with a cigar in his mouth, editing the copy turned in by the part-timers. He'd read our information, and often offer a few quiet, well-intentioned and usually humorous suggestions.
"Bryan," he once asked me loud enough for the rest of the part-timers to hear. "How do you spell New Town?"
Apparently, I had spelled New Town as one word, "Newtown," and Merrill was just making sure I knew that he caught my error. Then again, he always caught our errors. From then on, he'd periodically ask me the same question, even though he knew I had spelled New Town correctly, just to be a smart aleck, always with a wry, little smile on his face.
Merrill was certainly fond of colorful, descriptive language, as anyone who read his columns and stories can attest. A?basketball player didn't just make a field goal or convert a free throw. No, that would be too simple. Instead, the player tickled the twine or successfully completed an offering from the charity stripe. Shalowisms, some of us used to call them, but they were all part of what made Merrill the writer he was.
Working with Merrill was like having your own personal local sports encyclopedia. The author of two books on the Minot sports scene, Merrill could rattle off sports records, track and field times and distances and other information at will. We heard countless tellings of the days of the Minot Mallards and an endless list of star athletes from days gone by. But it never got old listening to Merrill.
Merrill, a four-time winner of the state Sportswriter of the Year award, was known for writing about a wide variety of sports, including trap shooting, bowling and other less mainstream sports. And when he wasn't covering sporting events for the newspaper, Merrill could probably be found watching a sporting event somewhere in the area, most likely at a track meet somewhere.
He was someone I learned from, even though my time working with him wasn't that long. He was a good man, a good husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend. The name Merrill Schalow will forever make me smile and think of New Town.
(Bryan L. Obenchain is editor of The Minot Daily News)