It’s a time to be thankful
It's just fashionable this time of year to be thankful. After all, that's what Thanksgiving is all about, right?
I am, of course, thankful for all the good things this time of year brings. Family always comes first. I've been blessed there. Friends, both new and old, are always something to be thankful for and I am, again, this year, especially a particular new one.
It can't be Thanksgiving without being thankful for food, though. That's its defining claim to holiday fame. Although I haven't eaten it yet, I'm already thankful for the meal my mother will be spreading out in front of us. And, I have to admit I'm a touch thankful not to have the pressure on me to cook the Thanksgiving spread like I did last year for my boys. But, I do have a turkey in the freezer and I will ply my skills at that massive chunk of poultry once again.
Another seasonal fare of this time is football. It's been one of those up-and-down years football wise for me, mostly because of the Kansas City Chiefs inability to play up to their potential in what I truly believed was a Super Bowl year. It does make me thankful for those great offensive lineman over the years that spoiled us. I wish they were still with us -- every game.
But, what really struck me this time around in giving thanks is an odd one, a stressful one, but one that keeps me going. Although the life of a small-town editor and publisher can be painful at times, it certainly keeps me on my toes and there's certainly something new every day.
There are those job-related nuances that not many people see. It's being stopped along the street by people I know, such as Vivian Courtney, with her subscription bill. It's in the envelope, but it saves a stamp. That happens with others who I don't know, but I'm always more than willing to bring those back to the office.
One of my favorites is occasionally hand delivering a Signal when the "paper boy" has missed someone's house. I'm always greeted with surprise when I show up. For me, it's a way to say I care. I do. Nothing raises my hackles like the calls that someone's been "missed." It happens. It's the nature of the business. Office manager Karen Wooge makes those "miss" deliveries most of the time, but on occasion, I like to show up.
One of my least favorite duties, however, is the news rack machines. They can be stubborn at times. Just the other day, a lady walked into the office, put down a quarter and grabbed a paper. She said "I put 50 cents in the machine across the street, but it jammed." Karen wasn't here, so I walked across the street and through a little "percussive maintenance," holding my tongue just right and jostling with the key, I managed to get the machine to work. Sure enough, two quarters dropped out.
But, that's not the worst news rack story. No, that one is easy and goes back to an appearance by Thomas the Tank Engine one summer. It was a Friday night after Art Walk and I decided to go check on the machine that's always moved out there for Thomas' stays. It wasn't there. I don't know why and still to this day don't want to know why. I went back to the house, got my truck and dolly, went to the Senior Center and loaded up that machine. I took it to the depot, unloaded it, filled it with papers and left -- with hernia firmly in tow.
I did learn a lesson from that and I am thankful for it. After the Maple Leaf Festival was over and the machines across the street had been moved to accommodate booths and what-not, I refused to move them back. It was the Signal machine and the Journal-World machine which were chained together. No way was I going to try and move that. Not long after, the J-W route guy came by and moved them. Thank you.
But, of course, small-town newspapering is mostly about stories, editorials, pictures and columns. Well, at least most people think it is. And, that's certainly what grabs the most attention.
A couple of recent examples of that involve the "alcohol issue" that's now going to a rare December vote and the infamous "Chanute parking tickets" controversy. The city ordinance that was changed to allow Sunday sales of alcohol sparked quite a debate. In the end, it was passed. Opponents promised a protest petition and they sure enough came through.
No one took them seriously, despite my saying it would happen. As it's turned out, because of the timing involved with such special elections, we'll be going to the polls on Dec. 22. Just another thing to do around the holidays. Opponents will be banking on the majority of Baldwin residents not coming out to vote. They've got their 150 votes ready to go. That may be just enough to strike the ordinance down. And, we all get to pay $2,000 for it. Democracy in action.
But the Chanute deal goes beyond anything I've ever seen. It's a perfect example of small-town talk at it's finest. Somehow, the Chanute High School football fans who attended a state playoff game here came up with the "fact" that they had received 140 tickets for parking around Liston Stadium. I was shocked by that.
So, as promised, I looked into it. Come to find out, Baldwin police had issued a total of 37 parking tickets that day and only 10 went to cars with county tags from Chanute. But, it didn't end there.
Those and other claims by Chanute fans raised ire around town. A community leader came in to talk about the situation and we were in agreement. Then he told me that two up-standing members of the community had seen a story in the Kansas City Star about the tickets. I said, "Oh, really. I was told the Star didn't do a story because there wasn't one there."
So, I called the up-standing members of the community to ask them about the story. Neither had seen it and weren't thrilled that they'd been pulled into it. So, I went to the library and looked at the issues of the Star where a story might have been. There wasn't. Not a single word.
I'm thankful for that, too.