Chesterton Tribune



Life and Opinions: Thanks for the memories

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I guess I was 40 when I told Meredith to please just shoot me in the head if I were still covering the Chesterton Town Council when I turned 45.

I had plans,  see. I was gonna shake the dust of this sleepy little town off my feet and cover the world. Today Chesterton, tomorrow Chicago. Or L.A. Or D.C. Was gonna make it to The Bigs, was gonna mix it up on the mean streets of American journalism.

Yes, well. Itís good to dream, as I tell my daughters. But far better to dream wisely. I"ve long since learned that thereís no place like home,  and that in coming to Chesterton in July 1997 Iíd come home at last.

Letís be honest, though. Iím 59 now and well past my expiration date as a beat reporter. Over the last 23 years Iíve written millions of words of varying quality, from leaden to yeomanlike to a lavishly purple shade of overwrought. Iíve filed perhaps 4,000 bylined stories and tens of thousands of unattributed ones. Iíve worked nearly 6,000 daily deadlines and have high blood pressure to prove it. If I had a dollar for every fenderbender I reported, I could buy a new car. If I had a dime for every ad insert Iíd hand-stuffed in the Tribís basement, I could retire.

So here we are, and this is it: the last piece Iíll ever write for the Tribís last issue ever. Yet--push finally coming to shove, right between my shoulder blades--I feel little of sadness, but instead a profound gratitude. Because I was lucky enough to be able to do what nearly no one who yearns to write for a living ever does: I wrote for a damn living.

It is fit and proper, then, that on this occasion I should thank the people who made this rare gift possible.

The Canrights, David and Warren, hired me on the slimmest of evidence that I could do the job at all. But they welcomed me into their newsroom nonetheless, a dusty ramshackle place once stalked by the giants Louis Menke and Jim Hale, and then they gave me my head, with rope enough to loop a noose around it. I throttled myself frequently, and years later Iím unable to reread scores of my old stories because, frankly, theyíre unreadable. Still, the Canrights tolerated my overreaching, and whatever success I can claim as a reporter I owe to their encouragement and tutelage. For the Canrights family is sacred, and for that my family thanks theirs from the bottom of our hearts.

I also want to thank the hundreds of people who made my job easier. Who returned my calls, faxed me reports, and shot me emails when the clock was ticking and I could feel my editorís hot breath on the back of my neck. Who made me accurate. Who kept me honest. I want to thank them too for making my job fun, funner than youíd think working every morning with a gun to your head could possibly be. Because part of my job was schmoozing. Maybe the best part of my job was the schmoozing. Swapping war stories, horror stories, and tall tales. Gossiping and kibitzing. Talking out of school, always off the record. Guys, Iíd like to buy all of you a drink. The Johns. The Marks. The Chucks. The Daves. The Bobs. Nate. Bill. Scotty. Sherry. Keith. Connor. Shane. Bruce. Hilary. Randy. Aaron. Jennifer. Steph. Maura. Heather. Lorelei. Amber. Tom. Red. Brandon. Bernie. Nick. Anthony. Cyndi. Wally. Paul. Brandt. Robin. Alex. Kevin. Chris. Tim. Larry. Jamie. Ben. Jimmy. Suzie. Greg. Terry. Clarence. Gary. Brian. Al. Karen. Joe. Amy. Ken. Maggie. Alexandra. Pauline. Corrine. Dana. Margaret. Adam. Alisa. Katelin. Lora. Nicole. TR. Ace. Small Axe. And all the ones I called Chief. There are more, many more--you know who you are--and while sins of omission are as unforgivable as the other kind, yet I can only ask you to forgive me for omitting you.

Finally, and most of all, I want to thank the readers of Duneland, who invited me into their homes of an evening and trusted me to deliver their news, who made me part of a vital ritual. In an easy chair, on the sofa, at the kitchen table, over a beer or a smoke, taking that deep cleansing breath at the end of the workday, as Octoberís winds rustled the leaves or Juneís fireflies flickered, at the same moment in hundreds and hundreds of homes, we were all of us together in quiet commune with our community. To read the paper was to share an intimacy, to know--if we happened to think of it at all--that for those few minutes we werenít alone in our joy or anguish or anger, but partaking of the same with many others, as one.

Thank you, all of you, itís been the honor and the privilege of my life.



Posted 12/30/2020




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