PORT TOWNSEND — In July, as the pandemic wore on and summer set in, Noah and Elliot Isenberg grew restless.
“We had been lying pretty low here,” said their mother, Sarah McNulty. “Highlights have included trips to the beach and the library.”
So when McNulty dug up a 12-year-old copy of the homemade Spruce St. Weekly newspaper and showed it to her boys, the brothers — Noah, 11, and Elliot, 7 — decided to publish a paper of their own: The Fort Worden Times.
“The first issue was all handwritten,” said Noah, who writes all the stories with a focus on local events and national issues.
Stories in the three-page, black-and-white paper are now typed on a computer “to save time,” Noah said, but each issue still features Elliot’s recurring, hand-drawn comic strip called “The Adventures of Felix & Cosmo!”
“His comics have really grown,” Noah said of Elliot’s work, which is partly inspired by “Calvin and Hobbs” as well as the teachings of Port Townsend School of the Arts instructor Dana Sullivan.
Once the first issue was complete and copies were made using their home printer, the boys walked down to the corner of Spruce and W streets to set up a small table where they could display their papers alongside a bottle of hand sanitizer and a lock box for depositing the 50-cent per-copy fee.
“The original idea was to bike around and deliver the paper to our neighbors, but we decided that might not be the best idea during a pandemic,” Noah said.
However, they did hand-deliver one copy to the nearby home of Brennan LaBrie, who 12 years earlier had created and hand-delivered the Spruce St. Weekly.
“For a second, I thought it was a copy of my old newspaper,” said LaBrie, who was home for summer break from Tacoma, where he attends Pacific Lutheran University and works as a news editor for the school’s paper.
“I haven’t gotten a chance, but I’ve been meaning to tell them personally how impressed I was by their work,” LaBrie said. “To see my two neighbors exploring journalism the way I did as a kid is so inspiring.”
Noah and Elliot published their third issue of The Fort Worden Times on Friday and already have begun work on the fourth, which is due Sept. 4, not long before the two start a new school year.
Elliot will be starting second grade at Salish Coast Elementary School and Noah will be starting sixth grade at Blue Heron Middle School.
Both will be attending classes remotely from the comfort of their home/newsroom.
Noah said he and Elliot plan to keep producing and selling their newspaper for the foreseeable future.
“I think we’ll be able to make it work with our school work,” he said. “I’m pretty sure our teachers and our parents will be flexible and support us so we can continue this project.”
The brothers welcome story ideas through their dedicated email address, which can be found on the newspaper’s recently launched Facebook page.
Jefferson County reporter Nicholas Johnson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.