Some Questions and Some Answers

By Lyle Hill

I am now old and wise … well at least you gotta give me old … and have been writing columns for USGlass for more than 25 years. In the course of this time, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about what I have written or, in some cases, said while speaking at industry events. One of the most frequently asked questions is “why in the world do they print that junk you come up with?” I think the answer is pity, but I am not totally sure of this. At any rate, I have decided to now publically respond to the comments and questions I hear the most. This, hopefully, will save me time in the future and while it may or may not be of real interest to you the reader, I have decided to do it anyway. The questions are real. Here we go:

From Tom F.: I once heard you say that in spite of the fact that your articles now appear in three publications on a regular basis and you have been a featured author in several others, you don’t think of yourself as a journalist or writer but as a story teller. Why do you feel this way?

I just don’t think I am much of a writer or reporter. I put my silly little stories to paper (and you would be amazed at how hard that is for me sometimes) and that’s pretty much it. I think the story telling thing is part of my Irish heritage. As a kid, family gatherings always included stories told by aunts and uncles and sometimes my father. It was the way they communicated.

From Ed B.: During your 50 years in the glass business you’ve met a lot of people. Who impressed you the most and why were you impressed?

First, it is 49 years and not 50. Shame on you! And yes, I met a lot of people and not all of them were good people. Some were absolute snakes. However, the three people who most impressed me were the late Joe Kellman (Globe Glass & Mirror), the late Russ Ebeid (Guardian Industries), and Don Friese (CRL). They were all true visionaries and people like them are very few and far between.

From Bob R.: Is Johnny “The Mooch” Rago an actual person, an alter ego or a figment of your imagination?

He’s real. Very real, in fact, and one of the most fascinating people I have ever known. By the way, The Mooch is now the leader of a prison ministry and educational program in the Chicago area. And believe me, nobody knows their way around the prisons of Chicago quite like he does.

From Phil W.: I just finished reading your book, The Broken Tomato®, which is a collection of some of your stories. I was led to believe that you have now written and published over 250 original pieces. Do you have a favorite or two?

Yes, I do. The first is Mr. Vitucchi and the second is The Interview. There are also a couple of others I particularly like and there are also some I think are pretty bad. Can’t win them all!

From Cathy F.: Do you ever get negative feedback on your articles and how did you get started with this magazine writing thing?

Yes, I get negative feedback from time to time. It used to bother me, but after a while you are just happy that someone read what you wrote and reacted to it. It was kinda accidental that I got started in the writing thing, as you call it, back in the early 1990s. I never thought it would last this long.

From Sam M.: A lot of the articles you write for USGlass have nothing at all to do with the glass and metal industry. I like them and don’t want you to stop, but I don’t understand how you get away with non-related articles in a glass and metal trade magazine. What gives?

You know Sam, I have wondered about this a couple of times myself. The wonderful people at USGlass give me a lot of freedom and I appreciate it. The quality of USGlass magazine is quite high and so maybe they feel that they can donate a page each month for something other than a glass or metal topic. I do try hard to relate whatever I write to a business principal … sometimes anyway … but I, too, am amazed at what I get away with.

From Patrick O.: I am a sales rep and I cover a lot of territory. I regularly see your articles pinned to bulletin boards or sitting on someone’s desk. I’m sure you must hear this from others as well and I hope you feel good about it. However, I do have two questions for you. First, are your stories true and how long do you intend to keep writing?

All of my stories are based on true events and real people but, being Irish, I do tend to exaggerate a bit from time to time. Not sure how much longer I can keep this act up. I ran out of creativity some time ago, but apparently the editors at USGlass have not noticed yet. I really enjoy the interaction with people from the industry. It’s been fun and as long as it is, I guess I’ll stay at it.

Lyle Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of Glass.com, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and
can be reached at lhill@glass.com

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