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Meet the RFT Staff! 

Raised by coyotes in the Alaskan wilderness after being abandoned by his birth parents, Managing Editor Ellis Conklin moved to the Marshall Islands at age fourteen and cultivated a lemon orchard that Meringue magazine named Best in the West. A brief but crucial tenure in the Kennedy administration as an agribusiness undersecretary led to a ten-year stint as a utility infielder for the San Francisco Giants. Upon his retirement, Conklin declared a need to "reap the earth" and promptly moved to northern Montana to run moonshine. At present he lives in Jerseyville, Illinois, with his adoptive parents.

The first woman in American history to scale Mount Kilimanjaro with neither rope nor pulley, Editorial Operations Manager Brooke Foster dropped out of school at age sixteen to launch what would become the El Paso Repertory's longest-running one-woman pantomime show, Careless Whispers. After serving as Jack Palance's stunt double in City Slickers, "Longhorn" Foster settled into a sedentary life copy-editing Cormac McCarthy novels, arm wrestling and drinking Scotch before fleeing the States amid allegations of income-tax evasion. After a brief stint with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Foster built a log raft, which she successfully piloted to the shores of East St. Louis, her current hometown.

Born to a methadone-addicted whore in a Silver City, Nevada, brothel, Staff Writer Chad Garrison emerged from an impoverished upbringing to earn a bronze star in the Korean War, in which he served as second lieutenant under General Douglas MacArthur. Not long afterward Chad opened his own hair salon in West Hollywood, where he regularly supplied luminaries such as David Cassidy, Alan Thicke and the guy from the Thompson Twins with custom blow-dries and gobs of hair gel. In 2000 Chad was pardoned by President Clinton for his role in the Whitewater scandal. He commutes to St. Louis daily from Blytheville, Arkansas, where he lives with his wife, Fanny, and their two pigs, Rumple and Mintz.

Staff photographer Jennifer Silverberg sent shock waves through journalistic circles by capturing the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for her yearlong chronicle of child performers on the Atlantic City boardwalk, a series credited for landing Scott Baio the seminal role of Charles "Chachi" Arcola on Happy Days. Silverberg made her first $1 million selling Braunschweiger sandwiches and canned Stag from a corner window at Senger's Tavern in Grafton, Illinois. Itching to get back into photography but having fallen in love with the area, Silverberg joined the RFT after turning down a lucrative offer from National Geographic to shoot jungle cats in East Africa. "People are my animals," she explained. "And St. Louis is my oyster."

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September 9, 2020

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