Allen retired from the Rome News-Tribune advertising department in December. She started working for the newspapers as a high school student in Madisonville, Ky., where she was born and raised.
“When I was in high school, I was taking a business course and the newspaper in Madisonville called the school and asked them to send somebody that wanted to work (in the production department) and send their best typist,” she said. “My teacher sent me and I started working at the newspaper part time during high school. And I loved it.”
Allen continued working for the Madisonville Messenger, after graduating from high school in 1965. When she got married, Allen said she and her husband transferred to several different areas, but she always applied to the local newspaper for jobs. She also worked for the Elk Valley Times in Fayetteville, Tenn.
“When I went to Fayetteville, I was a receptionist,” Allen said. “It was a weekly paper, so at a weekly paper you do a lot of everything. I did part of the bookkeeping, I was the receptionist, I took in money from the carriers, if someone was out sick in advertising, I helped out there, too. So, at a weekly paper, a small one like that, you do everything.”
Allen moved to Rome and joined News Publishing Co. family in 1971 in the classified department. She was promoted to classified advertising manager in 1982 and later moved to retail advertising sales, where she served many major accounts.
During that time, she was the emcee and coordinated the Rome News-Tribune-Southern Living Cooking School and Recipe Contest.
In 1993, Allen took a brief hiatus before returning in 1995 as advertising manager and sales for the Bartow Press. After the Bartow Press closed, she returned once again to the Rome News-Tribune.
Allen said she enjoyed working in sales, where the key lies in keeping open communication with customers.
“You have to know your product and what you’re selling and also know how it will benefit that customer,” she said. “You need to talk to the customer about what they need.”
Throughout the years, Allen witnessed newspapers evolve with every technological advance.
“It was very amazing,” she said. “Everything was just so different from when I started. There were different types of machine you typed on and tape would come out and they’d send the tape onto production to be printed.”
She continued to reminisce about the ways workers would design their advertisements.
“You had the typewriters, you had the layout boards, you had to design your ads on paper and cut artwork out of books and paste them down,” she said. “Now, you fill out a job order, send it to production and they do everything on computers. It’s just amazing the difference in what we used to do. Technology has really helped a lot. It’s made some things easier and some things, I think, harder, but I am thankful for it.”
Allen lives in Rome and has two sons, Jeff Armstrong and Casey Armstrong who are married to Karen and Corey respectively, and two stepdaughters Wendy Painter and Bridgette Hale who is married to Tim Hale.
Allen has 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Though she’s excited about her retirement, she said she will continue to value her time spent at the Rome News-Tribune.
“I have truly loved my job and the newspaper industry with all the opportunities and challenges it has given. I have made many friends and will miss my newspaper family. I am looking forward to catching up on the fun side of life and having more time to spend with my family. My favorite things are cooking and entertaining so let the party begin.”