I remember Commonwealth
By writing "Virginia has seen its share of dead magazines (anyone remember Commonwealth?)," Courteney Stuart [Hook Ink, June 5: "High life: New mag showcases Virginia"] (http://www.readthehook.com/93568/newsbiz-high-life-new-mag-showcases-vir...) offers Commonwealth's death as emblematic of Virginia's myriad magazine failures. It wasn't.
I remember Commonwealth/The Magazine of Virginia. In fact, I had the privilege– the pleasure, too– of being its associate editor from September 1976 through November 1978. So I worked for the magazine in its 42nd, 43rd, and 44th years of continuous publication by the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce. And Commonwealth lasted several more years before being folded by an entrepreneur who bought it after I moved on (to REALITES/International Arts & Cultures).
Writing and editing for Commonwealth meant assembling fresh, first rate editorial matter– articles, essays, picture spreads, book reviews, arts previews, and more– every month on a minuscule budget. So most of our "bold splashes of color" resulted from spilled lunches eaten at desks.
But the effort was more than rewarded by working cubicle-to-cubicle with longtime editor-in-chief (and now resident of these parts), James S. Wamsley, a widely respected writer (see National Geographic Traveler, Travel & Leisure, et alia, plus half-a-dozen books) as well as a true Virginian who knew more about his home state than anyone I've ever encountered. And it also meant communing with talented contributors like Paul Saunier, Jr., Anne Hobson Freeman, and George Black– to drop a few locally resonant names.
Commonwealth never had a large circulation, but it did have a broad fan base. Regularly, word came from both individual readers and industry colleagues across Virginia and far beyond that it was doing something very right.
I wish John-Lawrence Smith and Garland Pollard all the success in the world with Virginia Living. If their "completely new magazine" leaves even a fragment of such a legacy they will have done something fine indeed.
Antoinette W. Roades
(Editorial note: REALITES is correct, "realities" is not. The magazine's name derived from its French forebear.)