Archive for Wednesday, September 15, 1999

The journal of a newspaper lady

September 15, 1999

A week ago last night, our first paper went to press. It was a creation of stories pulled from a hat, so to speak, of interviews conducted when we had no newspaper, of computer programs run when the editors didn't know how to run them, of a newspaper that had a heart, but not a home.

Now it has both a heart and a home. And I have a job I love. It's a lot of work, a lot of exhaustion, a lot of hours, but hours that pass as quickly as minutes. It's a portrait of a small town, a continuum of what editors have been doing here for 117 years. It's a reflection not only of those of us who put the newspaper together, but also of the people about whom we write.

For nobody ever goes totally away as long as there remains a written word. The ink will be as visible and the words as meaningful, or as meaningless depending on the quality of our writing 100 years from now, Lord willing.

As the years go by, we uncover in ourselves talents, or wishes and desires. My writing life hit me midway along the trail. The knowledge that children grow up and move away from home pushed me into pulling out the typewriter for the first time. I didn't want to fall apart when the children left home. Writing would be a way to survive.

But it's more than that. It's connecting with other people. It's opening your life, your heart to those you may never meet. It's sharing your community with those who live far away, as well as with those who live across the street. It's folding into sheets of printed paper the pulse of a community.

In the 10 years since I started my first newspaper job, my writing has introduced me to exciting new places and people. No, I haven't been to Europe, at least not since I turned 20 in Paris, but I have met and interviewed fascinating people. Was it Hemingway who said that every man has a story to tell? That's true. Give me five minutes with anybody, and most of the time a story will come up. Some stories bring tears, some bring laughter, and some bring out a person usually unseen.

My writing and photography have taken me to simple places, to the top of grain elevators in the center of our state, to the tunnels that snake beneath Kansas University, to the special part of an interview where you look into someone's eyes and sense a common bond.

As our newspapers rolled off the press last week, we held our breath, humbly hoping that the paper would be a success and that our readers would be proud. It occurred to me that there's nothing so special that we do at The Mirror, except that we represent you.
And that can be a beautiful thing.

And now, from the this-and-that-at-large file:

  • When it comes to Monday night football, our Mayor (John Franiuk) says he can't get radio station 81 KCMO at his home halfway up Suicide Hill (Hatchell Road). But he tells us that if he turns the dial, he can usually catch the game on a station out of all places Louisiana.
  • Yes the radio reception can be tricky around here. As can be the cellular phone reception. Having spent a lot of time on the highways the last two years commuting to KU and trying to keep up with my mother by calling her from my cell phone early in the mornings, I know which dips and valleys cut out the reception. I can understand hills blocking these messages. But what I don't understand is that even when talking on the cell phone while in one location in Tonganoxie, the reception still comes and goes.
  • Les Meyer of Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery, says the "Tonganoxie Split" leaves his farm high and dry during the summer months. Areas north and south of Tonganoxie will get an inch of rain, he said, while the area in-between, which includes Basehor, might only get, as Meyer says, "10 drops on a brick."

My question is this: Is the Tonganoxie Split an aberrant phenomenon of nature or is it just a coincidence? Readers can you tell us?

  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will be in Tonganoxie this week. The last time this came to town, more than 35,000 people visited the site. I'll see you there.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.