Time to turn another page
Alan Stewart, Staff Writer
After 20 years of writing, this is the first time that I’ve experienced writer’s block.
I didn’t have writer’s block before my first story appeared in the May 21, 1997, edition of this newspaper. I didn’t have it when, a few months into this job, I went to photograph a crash only to learn a child died in the wreck and I was expected to do the story. I didn’t have it on Sept. 11, 2001, when I tried to put out a sports section while the greatest horror of the new century unfolded from New York and on a television just a few feet away from my desk.
I didn’t have it when my grandmother, Mary Hash (aka the driving influence behind my journalism career) passed away in 2006 and the way I consoled myself was through words in this newspaper.
I didn’t have it when I tossed the sports editor’s cap aside and turned my focus to covering town councils, school boards and general news.
Yet, now I struggle.
When I started into journalism, my late great-uncle, Bill Fluty, who was a long-time sports editor at The Evansville Courier & Press, once told me that when you don’t know what to write, try keeping it simple.
So, here it is: It’s with a reluctant heart that, after 18-1/2 years here, I’ve come to the closing paragraph of my story at The Corydon Democrat.
By the time you read this, I will have already started a new job ‘ still here in Harrison County ‘ that will, hopefully, help my family in multiple ways. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was bathed in prayer and I trust God put me where He wants me.
Working at The Corydon Democrat is something I’ll be proud of forever.
When I started, we had two dial-up phone lines that the newsroom staff fought over to access the Internet; we rolled our own film for the camera and decided at a weekend event whether or not we thought we could fill another roll because we knew that, come Monday morning, we had to develop our film in the darkroom; we burned ourselves with wax because we were sticking paper on pages to be shot the next morning.
Now, we all have ultra high-speed Internet, we have memory cards we rarely fill in our digital cameras and pages are all done on and sent out via computer.
There have been highlights, but I can’t think of a single favorite interview or coolest gig because there were so many, and some things have been filed away in my mind that I’ve temporarily forgotten.
Case in point: Recently, while compiling Looking Back, I was reminded of a girls’ basketball game between Corydon Central and South Central in 2001. As soon as I saw the page on the microfilm, the memories came flooding back as if I was watching them on television. I hadn’t thought about that game in years, but the memories were still there in vivid detail.
I recall once talking with North Harrison teacher Chris Martin and him pointing out that there’s no price on getting to do some of the things I’ve been able to do, including going to countless high school, college and professional sporting events at a variety of venues, covering a visit to Corydon by a former president, seeing shows and playing poker with Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum at Horseshoe Southern Indiana, driving police cars and a myriad of other things I’ve had access to that others paid money to see or do.
He’s right (and he got a taste of that once when I ‘needed’ an ‘assistant’ at an Indiana Pacers game and took him along, complete with him interviewing an NBA coach).
Looking around the white, 1970s-era, wood-paneled walls of the newsroom, I realize I’ve grown up here. I started in the midst of my college schooling, still living with my parents. Two years later, I met my future wife. Four years after that (and almost two years after we were married) we had our first child. Two years after that we had our second child. Now, the first child is on the cusp of starting high school next fall.
This place will always be special to me.
In that corner is where I cranked out my first sports stories. Over there is where a bulk of my sports editing duties took place. Right there, a woman irate with something I wrote dropped multiple f-bombs and seemed to be moments away from choking me. In that office is where I once captured a live mouse (the video is still on YouTube to prove it). Outside that window, at least three people have driven into the side of the building. Back in the press area, the familiar clackity-clackity-clackity on Wednesday mornings were loud, but soothing, and marked that another week’s efforts were in the books. Though the presses are gone, I’m convinced some of the dust sent flying by those massive machines is still floating around.
I’ve saved your letters and thank-you cards and emails, even the mean ones. I’ve always appreciated your readership and, for some, your friendship.
I’ve had tremendous co-workers who have never shied from hard work and pouring everything they had to make sure we lived up to our billing as the best weekly newspaper in the state. To attempt to thank all of them by name who had an influence on me would be an injustice, because inevitably I’d forget someone.
One of the best aspects of working at O’Bannon Publishing Co. is that we’re a family. It was that way when Randy West took a flyer on a young kid from Clarksville to be the new sports editor, and it’s been that way under the leadership of current editor Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, and it’ll be that way after I walk out the door.
This is a great place, and it’s a great newspaper. Always has been and always will be.
I’ve been blessed beyond measure here, and it’s been an honor and a privilege to be in these pages.
And now it’s time to turn one.