Last week I asked the philosophical question, did I actually exist. That was answered last week, for those that missed the answer to that deep question you can dig up a paper, perhaps from your neighbor or you could contact me personally. Of course if you ran into me on the street then the question wouldn’t need to be answered, or would it?
I periodically get asked the question about my column: ‘do I really write for the newspaper?’ It seems such a big surprise to some people, even those that know me well. For some folks that know me, they know that I seem a bit quiet in person. Others seem surprised that I could string together a few thoughts in written words with some degree of success. I guess I am surprised at the number of people that, unsolicited, ask me about the column. I am happy that so many members of the community read what I write here each week.
I was a bit worried when I started writing, that no one would read much past the first couple of sentences, especially if it didn’t seem very interesting. I actually had a couple of folks tell me that at times they lost interest in what I had to say and moved on. I can completely understand that, because my mind sometimes requires a bit of excitement or humor to keep me engaged.
I also didn’t really have anyone that I knew was a champion for me at first. My mother has passed on, years ago, so I didn’t have that ace up my sleeve. Also if she was not around then I knew that she wasn’t stopping people on the street telling them to pick up a Journal so they could read the interesting stories I wrote every week. My mother would have been proud that I achieved something like this, probably equating it to a weekly column in a major New York newspaper.
My father, on the other hand, would have been a little more reluctant. He was never one to heap on praise, choosing to push me with a bit of disappointment in his voice. Deep down he probably would have been proud, and away from me would have told people how proud he was. Like me, my father was a bit of a photography fanatic. I am sure he would have liked knowing that I have accomplished a few memorable shots.
The Belton Journal is not my first newspaper; I worked for another small town paper, having photos, cartoons and a few stories published. There is something unique about a small town in Texas, there is usually history, the life long residents, and just a country feel. Those are the places where print newspapers will be around for a long time, and a lot of fixtures will be available such as corner drug stores and clothing stores. Even those are fading, so perhaps we are lucky to still live in a time and place where we still have the reality of tangible newspapers and stores, not giving in to the virtual marketplaces. Of course with changes a lot of things improve. Probably in the past, more than just a few years ago, the courthouse square was dotted with “droppings” from the most common form of transportation of the time, horses. It would be hard to dress up for official business and then weave your way through the mine field of natural fertilizer. On the flip side the horse rarely left you stranded with a flat tire, or cost over $50 worth of hay to fill up for a trip home. Everyone owned a “convertible,” however that was not a plus during a rain storm. OK, I am fine with the automobile, less fond of phones that follow me everywhere. I like things I can hold and touch, real newspapers, real stores with real people, real experiences, reality I guess.
I will be on various street corners this coming week, weather permitting, in case my existence is in doubt. While I am out I will probably touch all the old buildings and wander into some actual stores to see if I can find some clean boots. I’d be happy to have a real conversation if the opportunity presents itself.