Tuesday, Jan. 12, was the 60th anniversary of the publication of Edward Hoagland’s first book, Cat Man. Since that time Mr. Hoagland has written 25 books, most of them collections of essays. Over the decades he has forged an unparalleled career as a nature and travel writer, and advocate for the environment and its species, including mankind.

Remembering the publication of his first book, Mr. Hoagland remarked that he was in the Army when it came out, drafted between the time he turned it in to his publisher and its actual publication. “My commanding officer came into the room and said ‘Are you Private Hoagland.’ I said yes, and he said, ‘Do you know you are in Time Magazine.’ A few days later, he returned. ‘Private Hoagland, do you know you are in Newsweek Magazine?’”

In the following essay the author looks back to his beginnings as a writer, when he lived in New York city and walked his essays over to the Village Voice and New York Times. For this essay, Mr. Hoagland walked down Summer street in Edgartown where he lives just a block away from the Vineyard Gazette office.

Newspapers in the old days were used to wrap fish in that you bought from a vendor when you finished with the sports page, so they had a special utility websites lack. It made for the joke, “an overcoat for fish,” of course, but they were fun to write for because you’d see people reading your stuff on the Staten Island Ferry or in the subway a day or two after turning it in.

I did write reviews and editorials for The New York Times, but also for the Village Voice, a tabloid-size weekly buffet of essays, Greenwich Village news and impressionistic riffs founded in the 1960s by Norman Mailer, among others. I rode tugboats around New York harbor for them and covered a Gambino Mafia trial, wrote about love and pain and dogs and turtles, and a lunchroom in the meatpacking district where I lived, where a naked girl in high heels paraded down the counter above you as you slathered ketchup on your cheeseburger.

Feminism, folk and jazz music, busking and street demonstrations — not the least Halloween’s — flowered in the neighborhood, and like the Times, the Voice was simply walking distance from our apartment, as was the Nation, another weekly I wrote for.

Often my pieces for the Nation or the Voice would be edited for use right in front of me, which was a luxury and a delight, and I wrote 25 altogether for each. Similarly, at the Times, a 30-block walk, the editorials I did could be readied for publication while I sat at the boss’s desk.

My daughter was born as I began to write essays, which furnished a nursery of new ideas. Being up at all hours doubly sparked my productivity. Our rent in an artists’ housing project was $200 a month, but my wife was a magazine editor uptown, and although the Voice only paid me $35 for my tribute to turtles, for example, it was soon being anthologized. When Sports Illustrated read it they sent me to Texas and Minnesota to write about red wolves and black bears. Outside Magazine, in New Mexico, also read The Village Voice and flew me to India, and Andy Warhol’s publication Interview forwarded me to Yemen. For The New Yorker I went to Khartoum, and so, with my daughter attending a Quaker school on 16th street, Islam’s universal call to prayer alternated for me with Silent Meeting.

Harper’s Magazine too soon picked me up and became my mainstay among the monthlies, running stories on Eritrea and Nairobi. By good fortune, in 1950 I had lunched with John Steinbeck at Sardi’s, and in 1964 sat next to Leonard Bernstein on the stage at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. So I was not a greenhorn. Yet a writer must consider himself a greenhorn to learn much.

“How do you trap muskrats? Hey, if you’re eating them let me taste it.”

Freelancing for more than 60 years is a long haul, but I also ate off my Simon and Schuster editor’s plate at The Four Seasons when I first met her. I remember greenbacks being called frogskins and when edema was dropsy. If somebody forgot to pay, you could call and say, “I haven’t seen the color of your money.”

Now, on Martha’s Vineyard at least, it’s gotten so fancy that when a Fortune 500 company I’d written a piece for forgot to pay me, I wrote to remind them that their CEO summered on this Island. I threatened to picket his house — being a veteran of Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in 1963 — if they didn’t get on the stick. The check arrived with an extra zero tacked on the end.

I’m not in favor of highway robbery, to borrow another eclipsed phrase, just socialism.

An old girlfriend later described me to her husband as “the man with a thousand questions.” That’s what we writers do, ask questions. The person queried may feel that her choices in life are being challenged, if the experience is novel, but usually our effort is simply to understand. Why have you severed your ties with that parent? Why the career switch at 42?

We look up Francois on Main street for a back story, or Don on Dock street. That’s what news is, a narrative. And newsprint was my vehicle for half a century. I loved it.