On a clear morning 40 years ago, I wedged along with two friends into a Triumph TR7, zipped through Fort Collins to Hughes Stadium and graduated from Colorado State University. It was at once the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Passing round number milestones tends to dredge up recollections long buried at the bottom of my brain. Perhaps it’s a welcome excuse for those of us who reach a certain age — nearly fossilized in my case — to wander down memory lane.
I believe it’s useful, nonetheless, for everyone to take stock from time to time. Circumstances are unique, of course. But generalities apply. It’s difficult to tell where you’re going without considering where you’ve been. It’s important to review what’s changed over the years, but also what’s remained the same.
The day after the 1981 commencement at CSU, I packed my belongings into my car and drove over Cameron Pass to Walden and a job as managing editor of the Jackson County Star. Along with low pay and long hours, the position came with a cramped apartment behind the newspaper office. The scenery, however, was priceless — mountains in every direction as far as the eye could see.
Weekly trips to Craig to print the paper at the Daily Press acquainted me with the staff there, one I was fortunate to join. Eventually, I became managing editor and oversaw efforts to produce what was at the time was one of the smallest circulation daily newspapers in Colorado, but one I’d contend punched well above it’s weight.
More important for me personally, I met, fell in love with and married a young woman as brilliant as she was beautiful.
I followed her to the Grand Valley when she attended what’s now Colorado Mesa University and then moved with her again to Oregon when she studied at the Willamette University College of Law. That afforded me opportunities to work for two more newspapers, covering sports for a daily and what we used to joke were cows and plows for a regional agricultural weekly.
Just months after my wife received her law degree and passed the bar exam, we were back in the Grand Valley. We had two bright young sons in tow.
Shortly afterward, I began working for the Business Times, first as a freelancer and then editor. That was nearly 23 years ago. Don’t they go by in a blink?
Like so many other industries, the newspaper business has experienced profound changes over the past 40 years. While I never wore a fedora with a press card tucked into the band, I pounded out copy on a typewriter. I assembled newspaper pages by pasting together long strips of text trimmed with X-Acto knives and waxed on the back.
Computer technology and the internet changed not only newspaper production, but also the ways in which information is gathered and disseminated. The old days spent hunched over government records and peering at microfilm to conduct research were anything but good, especially compared to the speed and ease of using Google.
Newspapers still reach readers in print, but increasingly in digital formats through websites and smartphones. Some newspapers have transitioned entirely to digital publication.
Call me an anachronistic relic, but I still savor a printed newspaper with a cup of coffee. It’s a sensory experience I’m reluctant to give up. For that matter, I prefer printed books over their electronic counterparts. I also acknowledge that when I’m in a hurry, I turn to my computer.
The more things change, though, the more they stay the same. Even in the midst of technological revolution, core functions go on.
The core of what I do is tell stories. It’s the same as when I covered the school board in Walden and city council in Craig. It’s the same as when I wrote about high school wrestling in the Grand Valley and wine production in the Willamette Valley.
It’s the same today not only in reporting on business, but also writing mystery novels.
Wandering back down memory lane, I remember well the day I graduated from CSU — and most of the days I’ve lived since then. They’ve offered the usual mix of good, bad and occasionally downright ugly. But I’ve been blessed with mostly good.
Moreover, I remain excited about the journey and where it will lead next.