A mutual friend calls him Big D (hear: cool guy high school voice). And yes Dennis is tall (at least for me looking up from 5’9 and, hrmmm . . . a 1/2) and that *is* one of first things I thought when I first met him. Both growing up along the Belair Road corridor here outside of Baltimore, I had heard Dennis Hockman’s name long before we landed in Fiction 101 together (and no, it wasn’t actually a 100-level class).
We actually had two classes together while attending the then Towson State. The fiction class mentioned above and Introduction to Drama. And what I remember from these classes was a quiet guy often spending most his time not saying a word (the listener – the recorder). For me, though, and especially looking back, I can interpret it now as something near an unreal and admirable focus.
This focus, I learned (through a chat just after graduation) was leading to Missoula for studies in Creative Writing and Literature, his sights on a PhD. Me . . . off to a small and now probably defunct magazine.
Fast forward a couple years – the wife and I then on our third property; we had bought it from a couple that knew, well, simply how to make a house look good. It didn’t take long, only a matter of weeks probably, before we got our first issue of Chesapeake Home Magazine; the address label — not John Bartkowiak. A 4-color (at least that’s how I used to know them) and glossy mag covering design, architecture and house trends in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Every so often too (ask my wife) I get a hair. I will look at the freelance writing market. It almost never goes anywhere, but this one time and I happened to reach over into the bookshelf next to me. . . . I had been trained, you know, to look at the masthead of any mag and . . . right there . . . my jaw dropped. Dennis Hockman, an old friend, Editor of Chesapeake Home Magazine.
Fast forward a few more years and as I began to push this Building Moxie thing out and through Facebook, we reconnected. We had the opportunity to meet up recently. Sure, a “catch up,” but I was on a mission too to find out a little of what it takes to be an editor of a shelter magazine (morbid curiosity if you will).
And as we sat there over a buffalo burger and a beer, Dennis told me the story. TA at University of Montana (Note: tie in with another one of his earlier passions – snowboarding). A duel degree in Creative Writing and Literature but on a teaching track. I learned quickly that he became disenchanted with what he saw as a lack of interest from the students in his classes. (Remember above :: the quiet astute learner . . . (that *also* believes that every writer must read.))
Later . . . and on leaving Montana, he returned here to BMore, his plans to marry an old sweetheart. He made his way juggling work for a publishing house, teaching at night and freelance writing. One of the publications he wrote for, of course, Chesapeake Home. He learned it that way if you will …and before our conversation turned to “the product,” I see pretty clearly what looks like a perfect fit.
Dennis, really, was made for this job. Son and grandson of avid gardeners and later a professional landscaper. In his college years, he was a house painter working his way through graduate school. Again, he made a quiet study. Of this, Dennis said, “I always knew I was going to have a house of my own one day.” His wife, too, a long time professional in the residential and commercial design industry. (Internal Note: Wow, writing comma home stuff and all around him = perfect fit.)
It is fun to learn too and despite the angle of some of my questions, he is a do-it-yourselfer. Now on his second “old” home in the Ten Hills area of Baltimore, Dennis does much of the work around his house himself . . . except of course, hard jobs like, well . . . tile. He says, I don’t want to stare at that one tile that is all cattywompus (sp?) (and does that sound familiar folks?).
Originally born out of support from the Home Builder’s Association of Maryland, and originally called Maryland Remodeler, Chesapeake Home now reaches 70,000 households throughout Maryland, Northern Va, Southern Pa, DE and other coastal areas . . . all the way up into New Jersey. It is published bi-monthly. And while editorial focus has not changed much since Dennis has been guiding the ship, he talks of expanding coverage into the areas of food and local interest, as well as growing the magazine’s online presence.
Owned by Patuxent Publishing, they now share the same address with cousin organization (and in something of a strange family tree) the Baltimore Sun. Dennis himself is contributing now weekly and every Saturday to the Sun’s Home and Garden section.
Bottom line: Dennis is a guy who wears many hats, and know that every word, and picture, printed page passes his eyes at least once . . . even as a senior editor. And finally, though, I wrap up by asking . . . “What do you take the most pride in?”
And he says, “Picking up a copy of another shelter mag . . .” with 10 times the budget and probably a staff much larger than his five . . . “and seeing some topic or trend that we had run earlier in the year, covered with equal depth and style . . . .”
I appreciate the time that Dennis took to meet with me. It was good catching up, and I hope you enjoyed. To find out more about Chesapeake Home Magazine, please see below. Thank you and BMoxie BMore! jb
More Moxie (Related Links):
Chesapeake Home can be found online at . . . http://www.ChesapeakeHome.com
Chesapeake Home offers a variety of blogs for all sorts of interests . . . http://www.chesapeakehome.com/blogs/
Dennis’ newest contribution, a weekly column for cousin publication the Baltimore Sun . . . House and Garden