About Me

Paddling in the Everglades in the 1980’s

Hi.  My name is Ron Haines.  I was born and raised in Illinois and have lived in Ethiopia, Iowa and Florida, the latter since 1976.

After a journalism degree from the University of Illinois I joined the Peace Corps and spent three years in Ethiopia and then another year traveling from India back to Europe by land before heading back to the U.S.

Apart from a four-year stint at the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, my professional life has been in the tabloids, the National Enquirer, The Globe and The Star.  The National Enquirer brought me to Florida in 1976 and I was privileged to be there, as a reporter and as a photo assignment editor, in the boom years of six million plus in sales per week with Generoso Pope at the helm.

I resigned from the Enquirer in the early 1980’s to spend time at home with my daughter while my wife worked.  It was pretty unusual back then to leave a high-paying, high-pressure Enquirer job of one’s own accord. The norm was that the folks who left were fired, usually on Fridays.

Daughter Jennifer in the Everglades in the 1980’s

I never regretted my decision.   I think it made for a better relationship with my daughter over the long haul than there would have been without that time together.

By 1984 my wife was ready to stay home and I was ready to find a job again.  The editorial offices of the Globe, owned by Canadian Mike Rosenbloom, had been moved to southeast Florida “to take advantage of the vast pool of tabloid talent” in the area (mainly those fired by the Enquirer through the years), according to Editor Mike Nevard.  Globe’s photo editor, Alistair Duncan, had just decamped for Rupert Murdoch’s competing Star in Tarrytown, NY, and I walked through the door.

By late 1985 I had a company cell phone to keep up with the 24/7 job I had walked into.  That became my life for the next couple of decades.  Along the way, because I could be mobile with the cell phone, I volunteered for Girl Scout activities and high school activities with my daughter and continued my double life as a very active volunteer with the Sierra Club.  I orchestrated many a celebrity photo stakeout in Los Angeles from a tent in the woods in Florida in those days.

In 2001, after Globe, Star and National Enquirer were all under the control of highly-leveredged American Media, I lived through the anthrax attack on our building in Boca Raton, but lost a good friend, Bob Stevens.  The tabloid world became increasingly very corporate and accountant-driven, quite different from what it had been when each of the three, then-debt-free titles was owned by a single wealthy person (Pope, Rosenbloom and Murdoch) and the competition was fierce.  After a period way too close to the corporate flame, I was let go in 2003 when the Star was moved from Florida to New York, minus its employees, and took the opportunity of having acres of free time and a severance package to canoe the Mississippi River.

After returning to Florida I was asked to work part-time for the British edition of The National Enquirer, clearing photo copyrights for use in the UK.  It fit my needs and I was happy for the work.

In 2006, the Great Stupid National Enquirer Experiment, which involved firing its Florida staff and moving it to New York with a new staff of British hires, was deemed a failure (who knew?) and came to an inglorious end after a year.  The Brits were let go, the paper moved back to Florida and some old hands rehired.  I was one of them.

I thoroughly enjoyed rejoining many of the people I had worked with and knew from years past and it was difficult for me to make the decision to finally stop working.

But hey, I wasn’t getting any younger and I felt for a long time that I needed to document some of the personal stuff I did in my life for my family and interested friends.  Having a job was for too long a way too convenient excuse for not doing any of that.  April 6, 2011 was my last day of work.

Since then I have fully documented the Mississippi River trip, posted my letters home from the Peace Corps years, and had a 50-year reunion with Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, accompanied by daughter Jennifer. I have also traveled extensively by car across the United States and continue to use my blog to record much of what I encounter in my journeys.

I hope you enjoy this.  Use the subscribe button on the right to stay in touch.


25 Responses to About Me

  1. Joan Tallman Latta says:

    What a life, i envy all the far away places life has taken you..

    I was with UAL for 38 years flying the globe and really enjoyed, but sorry to say no exotic places such as you. Before retiring to Pinehurst, NC I lived in Plantation, FL for 32 years. Do not miss the traffic. Love it here in the sandhills of NC. Do get to FL 3 times a year as all my kids still live in S. FL

    Look forward to reading where life takes you.



  2. Jim Leggett says:

    So, you have finally made the move to freedom?

    We spoke of that decades back, when you confided you did not see yourself Tabloid-bound for the rest of your life. That would be around the time of your Mark Twain-like Mississippi canoe meanderings – I thought you’d slipped the leash of gainfull employment at last.

    As to pix assignments you threw at me; oysters, M&M sweets, butter patties – what were you thinking! Of course there were the fun jobs too, Aaron Spelling’s Dallas slum home, New Kids On The Block childhoods, Oprah’s Secret Past, all grand grist for the mill during Tabloid’s Golden Era. Thanks, too, for your glowing letter which helped me land a Bahamas gig (tax-free) for some three years.

    A wanderer like yourself, I look forward to reading your life’s adventures to come.

    Yer Glasgow pal,



  3. Daniel Rotstein says:

    Please keep me updated…


  4. April Sandmeyer says:

    I already learned so much from your blog about our business, …..and all these years I thought I was the only one working 24/7 as a Bureau Chief!


  5. Tony Brenna says:

    Yeah, Ron, keep me in touch. Always enjoyed working with you. You had soul in an often soulless place!


    • Ron Haines says:

      Thanks Tony. I will be adding the details in the coming weeks and months (I think it’s going to take me longer to write this all down than it did to do it) and if you’ve subscribed to the site you’ll get the occasional updates. Happy to hear you’re doing fine. The real pros like you I’ve gotten to meet and work with in this weird business we’re in made it really pleasurable. Ron

      Ron Haines 561 315-0528


  6. Peter Brandt says:

    Is that really you with that full beard!
    You were always my favorite photo editor. Boy, did you send me out on some really wacky, crazy, dangerous, and simply the most interesting stories that man can think
    of! I will never regret working for you or the tabs.

    Good Luck On Your Book


  7. Leslie says:

    I wish I knew all this back in the day!! I would have loved to have talked to you about all these travels. Do you remember Vern Shibla from the NY Post? He loved to travel off the beaten pack as well.


  8. Michael Fehr says:

    Good to hear from you. Sounds like you have and continue to have quite a rewarding life. I’m glad to hear you plan to attend the 50th reunion.

    We’ve come a long way from two skinny guys playing a little b-ball.

    See you in October.



  9. Jan Makkay says:


    What an interesting and rewarding life you have lead. It was wonderful to see and visit with you at
    our 50th class reunion. Please keep me updated on your book of travels. Just finished your e-mail
    on the gas stations throughout the country. Truly amazing!!! Enjoyed your photo’s and history.



    • Lee Harrison says:

      Ok mate, I’ve just clambered aboard your bandwagon! Just retired and moved from south to central Florida with Michele! Living on the Withlacoochee River. I, too, remember the tabloid days with treasured memories! And was always glad of your friendship. Good luck to you….and me, eh?


      • Ron Haines says:

        Love your email address, Lee. Welcome aboard. You’re just in time because I am going to start digesting my rambling trip to the Midwest and spitting out some blog posts and photos from it. You guys had a great run with the Anchor Inn and I hope you enjoy your retirement as much as I am enjoying mine. I’ll come paddling down the Withlacoochee some day and drop in!


  10. Ulrike says:

    Cool Ron, can’t wait to see the Nepal to Norway by bus and train entry.


  11. Steve Schipani says:

    Ron, how do you go about finding a vintage gas station, I have an idea about refurbishing it and turning it into something else. Not sure where to find one however. I have been checking sites like loop net, etc. I am look8ng for a location in Connecticut.


    • Ron Haines says:

      Apart from deciding what town you want to be in and just driving around I don’t know. I don’t go looking for mine, just stumble across them. If you tell me where in CT you want to end up I can keep an eye out or let you know if I’ve already seen one there. I guess searching for gas stations for sale would just get you a list of ones that are for commercial sale, as ongoing businesses, and therefore expensive, and that’s not what you want.


      • Steve Schipani says:

        Thanks, yeah I did the standard search and didn’t find what I was looking for.
        I am actually looking to do a coffee shop and bakery. There is one converted in Portland ME and one in Mystic CT called MBar which is both coffee, wine and food. I am looking to be anywhere in Eastern CT. I will take your advice and just drive around. Thanks again.


  12. Ron Haines says:

    I’ll keep an eye out too. I do a lot of paddling at various places in Eastern CT in the summer.


    • Ron Haines says:

      There’s a nice one at 1124 Blue Hills Ave, Bloomfield, CT, just north of Hartford. Used to be a café, was vacant last time I drove by there. Not a high traffic area for café goers though, which is probably why it closed. There’s a photo in my collection. It was called The Filling Station. Looks like a nicely maintained building.


  13. James munsch says:

    Hi Ron, just wanted to stop by and give thanks for your words about your canoe trip on the Mississippi River. Been in the process of doing some research about it myself and you’ve provided some excellent information. Thanks for sharing. Sounded like a blast.



  14. Hi
    I really enjoyed description of your trip back to Ethiopia. I lived in Addis as a child with my family around the same time you were a Peace Corps volunteer there. It brought back many happy memories- thank you!


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