Who Is This Steve Guy?
My name is J. Stephen Bolhafner. I go by "Steve" or "Stephen" depending on the situation. A few years ago I took early retirement from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where I had been a news researcher for approaching two decades. Since my pension is about a week of my old salary and I'm way too young for Social Security, I had to get another job, working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, mostly setting up replacement rentals for insurance customers. In what I laughingly call my spare time, I'm also a freelance writer.
I was born in St. Louis, MO and currently reside in the St. Louis Metro area. I did much of my growing up in and around the small town of Ironton, MO, about a hundred miles south of St. Louis. I attended Arcadia Valley High School before going on to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, an even smaller midwestern town (although the college itself was considerably larger than my high school).
I took six years to get through college. I dropped out after my sophomore year. The Dean of Students talked me into taking a leave of absence instead of just dropping out, pointing out that that way I could come back any time in the next two years without reapplying. I took his advice, even though I was sure I wouldn't be back, but sure enough the year after I should have graduated I came back and ended up winning a couple of awards and a scholarship and getting High Honors in English, graduating in 1980. Bill Watterson, who did "Calvin and Hobbes," was one of my classmates.
Then I did a year of graduate school at the world's first Popular Culture Department at Bowling Green State University, also in Ohio. No degree, though. I dropped out again.
After developing the kind of resume you often see on the backs of books of bad poetry (bartender, pizza delivery driver, singing telegram messenger), I moved back to St. Louis in 1983. I got a job with the local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch taking classified ads. I moved into the library, which was part of the newsroom, five years later, and ended up helping create the job I took early retirement from, that of news researcher. The easiest way to describe it is that I was like a reference librarian for reporters. It was a bit more complicated than that, and sometimes I would be deeply enough involved in a story to receive byline credit, in addition to the pieces that I actually wrote myself, either as part of my duties or separately on my own time as a freelancer.