By: Kiara Jones
He started off working on the railroads then joined the Army at 18 years old to eventually becoming a writer nominated for one of the most well-known writing awards. This interview tells the stories of former journalist and author, Carl. A Veno.
I spoke to my 88 year-old grandfather, Carl A. Veno, on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon outside in his backyard. He shared with me his career journey, challenges and stories throughout his life.
Veno grew up in upstate New York in a small town called Olean. He attended St. Bonaventure University located in his hometown. From Olean, New York, he has traveled multiple places due to his career changes.
Throughout his life, he has had a variety of careers such as owning a pizzeria in the 1950s, barbering and the career he most recently has done, writing.
In the 1960s, he received a phone call from the biggest newspaper in Florida at the time, The Orlando Sentinel. “I got a phone call. This guys’ calling me from Orlando. He wants me to fly down there and talk to him.” Veno described receiving the call, “like Hollywood calling you.” The manager of The Orlando Sentinel at the time told him, “Get in a plane and come down here. I wanna talk to you about a job.” Veno expressed his feelings at the time saying, “I can’t believe that! I can’t figure out why he’d want me. There was a lot of people looking for jobs. Being a journalist or a reporter was very hard to get a job. And then I didn’t have much experience either.” Although, he decided to get a round-trip ticket to Orlando.
When Veno arrived there, he had an interview. He told me at the time his, “…resume was weak…” and he, “…didn’t have any newspaper experience…” Veno also said, “…they had about a hundred resumes.”
He then got the job and soon moved down there with his wife and their two year old daughter. Veno shared with me working for the biggest newspaper company in Florida wasn’t easy at the time. Challenges came with working as a journalist and reporter. When talking about his work at The Orlando Sentinel, he expressed, ‘…I worked very very hard. I was a freshman… I was the smallest guy there, I gotta do a lot of work because they were watching me. If I wasn’t doing well they weren’t going to keep me.”
Complaints occurred during his time as a journalist. Veno received a call about a man involved in organized crime he wrote about in the newspaper. The man called him saying, “You know Carl, there’s two things I don’t like.” The two things that he didn’t like was his name in the paper and the information that he said was not true even though it was. Veno told me, “He tried to stop me from writing stories about himself. He was mad.”
Throughout his life he worked for many more newspapers. Veno worked at the Free Press in Quakertown as the editor in chief. He wrote an article in the 1970s and submitted it to The Pulitzer Prize Committee. Veno told me that they had thousands of articles submitted to be nominated . Although he didn’t win, Veno’s article was accepted as a nomination.
Most recently, he wrote three books. Veno’s first book, Invisible Ink, tells his stories about working for various newspapers. Pilgrims of War, his second book, is a historical-fiction romance based on the events of World War II. Lastly, The Camora Hunter, his third book, is a fictional novel written about a real crime organization in Italy.
Lastly, Veno wrote a screenplay and started movie production for his historical fiction movie.
Although his writing career hasn’t been easy, he still stands at 88 years-old with great knowledge of the writing world. Through interviewing him, I learned so much about what the reality is of being a journalist and what challenges can occur.