This is my first column of a new year, with 364 opportunities for eloquence, a Pulitzer, widespread acclaim.
My old editor, Doc Kirby, called the biggest journalistic prize a Phew-litzer, emphasizing the syllable that often implies a bad odor.
At the end of the day each Friday before he made his way to the American Legion, he would declare, “another week in the can. See you all Monday if nothing bad happens.”
Back then, one could be a quirky, though common, law-abiding man or woman without being held in ill repute.
Anyone could succeed.
I meet people from time to time who declare they “just love” my weekly column, then say they want more about the “old times.”
I remember many things about our wonderful home and have written about many, but some won’t see the light of day.
If someone asks me why a change has taken place, I no longer venture a guess. I tell the questioner to approach someone in city hall, the county offices or whoever is managing a business.
An expectation is that some sort of dirt will be brought to the surface and things will return to the way they were.
The way they were. Sands bread, Beef’s chili, hot dogs at Mac’s Pool Hall, Schwinn bikes at Techenbrock’s, electric trains at Fosters and listening to records at Martin Music. Freshly bottled pop could be found in a couple of places and memorable munching was part of visiting Carrol’s potato chip factory.
My active memory goes back to about 1949, the year I was in the first grade. Flashes take me back earlier, but fogginess pulls me away.
The earliest memory I can muster is running in the cemetery and sitting next to a particularly ornate tombstone. It isn’t on the streets of Alamosa or even the school playground, where many had their first memorable experiences.
My dad was sexton of the cemetery when I was born, but I have already written about that.
A job was a job.
He was also a firefighter and later became street superintendent.
Love for Alamosa ran in his veins and it’s reflected on the tombstone he shares with my mom, who prayed daily for the place and its people.
Things aren’t wrong, but they aren’t exactly right. The area seeks “branding” and I recall some of the slogans: “Pigs, peas and prosperity;” “Home of the Red McClure Potato” and “Land of cool sunshine.” There were more, but these stand out in my mind.
I smile when I return from New Mexico and see the sign, “Welcome to Colorful Colorado.”
Our state is colorful, but that isn’t emphasized. Instead, I receive phone calls from persons wanting to know about the mysterious San Luis Valley. I have stopped cooperating and refer them to other people who are actively promoting that concept.
They’re younger and haven’t been involved. It’s sort of like activating a cold case squad to look at unsolved mysteries and hoping new eyes will see something new or fresh minds will have different thoughts.
It is so with the good, old days. Will reading my words launch a younger person to research the history of this place and come up with something new?
An “investigative reporter” with a metro newspaper simply invented a few things in writing about marijuana’s impact on Antonito.
I lost an entire night’s sleep mulling a correction, then I decided to allow him the pleasure of making his own.
Another Phew-litzer in the can.
Today, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, new officials will be sworn into office across the land and another chapter of history will open.
I offer this advice: A hard look at past mistakes will keep us from repeating them.