Stinging words from the past…

Moottoritie - Highway
Moottoritie – Highway (Photo credit: dotsi)

Hello again, everyone! It’s wonderful to be back at the blog after a very busy week of getting my new book, The Good Luck Highway, into shape and ready for sending out for publication. By late Friday morning, the interior and cover were both ready to go, and by evening, I received confirmation that both files had met the technical requirements and that the next step is to proof it all. And that’s where I’ll be immersed throughout this weekend.

Following my sending the book files off to CreateSpace, and because I was “finished” with my editing for the day, I was “recruited” to help the dear wife begin a project that she’s been eager to get to all winter: Emptying out the many containers on the shelves in one of our storage rooms in the basement. There are about six of these rubber containers, so I started with the first one in line.

When we moved here nearly seven years ago, these containers came along from where they had been exiled to in our crawl space in the old house. Some of them are labeled; some are not. The first one I pulled down said, “Mark’s things.” And though I knew there is a lot of memorabilia of mine tucked away here and there, I didn’t really know what to expect. Once the lid was removed, however, forgotten moments of my past came rushing back–without warning!

There were a couple of athletic letters I’d earned from junior high, a baseball trophy I was awarded for being a member of the 1964 County Champions in Huntington, Indiana, and various other bits of nostalgia that I’ll have to sort through now that the lid is off.

But what really caught my eye was a still-bright orange school folder from my high school in Ohio. I recognized it as my journalism/newspaper clip book, full of several of my published articles and columns I’d written during my junior year as sports editor of the school paper.

Generally speaking, I have a wonderful feeling about those distant high school years, where I was allowed to begin to hone my writing skills and be published every couple of weeks. But the reality, then and now, is I goofed off and didn’t really take the job seriously and really was not very well appreciated by my journalism teacher/newspaper adviser. In fact, I think she really despised me!

I had fun entertaining myself and my buddies around me, and I thought I could crank out a column or story without giving it much thought or any kind of leg work that would have been truly necessary for worthwhile stuff. Taking the time to re-read these “gems” yesterday, I wanted to smack myself squarely in the jaw and send myself back in time where I could have a “re-do” or a chance to hit the re-set button!

But what stung more than my trite and empty pieces were the terse comments from the teacher/adviser. They are still impossible to miss, and the fed-up tone is as obvious and strident today as it was in 1967, shouting out in stark red or bold black pen:

 Mark, you must plan your assignments more carefully. Let’s get some real ‘meat’ on the sports page this six weeks–not stale rehashes and columns written in one period by just wandering around verbally.

Ouch! OK, so I was a bit lax when it came to being an organized editor, often times forgetting deadlines and not getting my page laid out and the proofing and changes made in the print shop, causing me to be on the adviser’s “list’ most of that year.

I thought about her yesterday while I read back over her comments, and I wonder where she ever wound up. When she became the new journalism teacher/newspaper adviser that year, she had replaced a legend who had been there since Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and she was pretty uptight about wanting to establish herself and make her own mark at the school. I guess I wasn’t much of a help there.

Needless to say, I wasn’t asked to fulfill the duties of sports editor during senior year, but I was busy with other endeavors by that time, trying to figure out whether or not I wanted to go to broadcasting school in Chicago the next year or attend Kent State.

I pretty much had forgotten about that high school newspaper experience from forty-seven years ago, but it all rushed back once more as soon as the lid was removed from the Rubber Maid container yesterday.

And as I now gently place these pages from the past back into the still-bright orange clip book from 1967, and back inside the storage container, I smile and offer a long distance apology to my adviser–wherever she may be. Sorry about all that!…CortlandWriter

A view of Ashland High School in Ashland, Ohio.
A view of Ashland High School in Ashland, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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