When Halloween came to Trueline last fall, the workday was punctuated by the click-clack of high heels echoing down the hallway, worn by a man wearing Buffalo plaid and wielding an axe.
That “lumberjack” happened to be the new writer David Harry, a Monty Python aficionado, avid gardener and former reporter. And like the song behind his Halloween character, he “sleeps all night and works all day”—writing the latest articles for Vanguard, Blueprint and Toggle magazines.
This native Baltimorean now lives in the wilds of Cornish, a remote Maine town, and has a few other unexpected twists to his story, some emanating from his family tree: His namesake from colonial times ran up debt in Philadelphia and fled to the Bahamas—all of which was written up in Benjamin Franklin’s biography. Two distant uncles from the same era—who may have been brothers-in-law—shot British General Alexander Ross off a white horse during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.
But for the latest Harry—a much mellower, tie-dyed, Grateful Dead-loving version of his forebears—the pen is his sword. Growing up in a house full of books, the budding writer got his first byline in second grade, leading to a smattering of future positions at newspapers far from his Maryland home.
“Writing kicked in early, but took me about 25 years to get the job I wanted,” Harry shares about his moving to Maine 31 years ago. “But as paths opened up, I pursued them.”
Spinning a yarn
Growing up blocks from Memorial Stadium, the former home of the Orioles, Harry’s earliest memories were of the roaring crowd on a hot summer night.
“Baltimore will always be home,” the avid baseball fan says.
Graduating from Towson University with a degree in English in 1988, a writing career seemed at first far away. Over the years he worked in a liquor store before life circumstances brought him to Maine, where he bought a house on six acres. Making rubber stamps for a living, he also ran a shipping department as a production manager in two stints of working at Welch Signs.
The desire to write was always percolating beneath the surface. Taking a sabbatical in 1998, he travelled throughout New England to write about minor league baseball teams. Upon his return, he sold cars—but happily sold an article to AAA Magazine.
“That was happy news a week before Christmas,” he recalls. “I took myself out to dinner and bought a bottle of wine to celebrate.”
His next break came when his life partner Jan Matthews encouraged him to apply for a writing and editing position at the Sacopee Valley Citizen in 2005, part of Current Publishing. The position was perfect, with Harry writing a variety of local news stories for a weekly publication that never went above 28 pages.
“It was a lot like being a late night radio show host; if you made a mistake very few people noticed,” Harry joked, although pointing out the town clerk would sometimes show up in his driveway to complain.
Unfortunately, times changed and Harry saw downsizing, consolidation and elimination of the publications. He eventually moved to Mainely Media in 2009 and The Forecaster in 2012, before joining Trueline in 2019.
In the course of his reporting career he won five Maine Press Association awards, along with a similar nod from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. Since his arrival, he’s embraced the close-knit culture that focuses on good storytelling, and tennis and Ping Pong to unwind—at least before COVID-19 led to remote work.
“We all worried when the pandemic struck, but the beauty of Trueline is that people pull together and appreciate what everyone’s going through. We’ve made this work beyond all expectation.”
“I’m developing a different style,” Harry says, calling the interviews he conducts “chats” to put people at ease. “Working here is an entirely new experience for me.”
The pandemic only strengthened the Trueline team, he says.
“We all worried when the pandemic struck, but the beauty of Trueline is that people pull together and appreciate what everyone’s going through,” says Harry. “We’ve made this work beyond all expectation.”
Highlights on Harry:
Guilty Pleasure Band: Abba. Loves “Dancing Queen.”
Memorable assignment: Writing about firefighters and getting hoisted up in the bucket on a hook-and-ladder unit on a windy November day.
What he reads: Harry’s reading a John Updike biography, books on American and European history and rifling through old New Yorker magazines.
What you’d never guess: The guy enjoys yoga and has seen the Grateful Dead eight times. Favorite song is “Ripple.”