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Till we meet again

April 25, 2012
I knew there would come a day when I would write this column. And it comes with mixed feelings. I've been considering retiring for a while now, but when the time comes to walk out to the parking lot and get in my car for the last time, I'll have to make myself not look in the rearview mirror as I drive away.

No, I'll focus on the road ahead and move on. I have grandchildren in Oregon who I can hardly wait to spend more time with. I have my place in the country with a garden, chickens, two dogs and a wife who is a pretty good cook. I have my sailboat and the little band The Salty Dawgs to keep me busy on weekends, and I've already begun writing a book. What more could a guy ask for?

Will I miss the newspaper business? Probably so. But I'll miss the people I've met and the friends I've made through the years even more. I'll miss the guys I have breakfast with every Thursday morning at Marcy's Kitchen in English, and I'll miss Tammy, who never asks what I want for breakfast — she already knows and brings it. I'll miss the people at the courthouse, and the law enforcement officers I've gotten to know and now consider friends. And the "coffee call" at the Milltown Fire House, the crew at the Ramsey Café, Van's Restaurant and Shakers in Marengo. The staff at the Crawford County Public Library seems almost like family now, and the folks at the Extension Office and Crawford County Health Department have always been so nice, even when I rubbed them the wrong way.

And I have to thank everyone who shared their stories with me and allowed me to share those stories with my readers. I've enjoyed them all. A few stand out, like the Squirrel Convention story, the story I wrote about Pete Eastridge, the one about the old Eckerty Camp meetings and the Crawford County Poor Farm. The deadly Onstott and Richardson fires were some of the most touching stories I've worked on, and the stories about Robert Kennedy Jr. and Jane Goodall were some of the most interesting. The story about Justin Moon and Carla Sturm, the one about Novy Gilliatt getting lost while mushroom hunting, the story about the Pearl Harbor survivors and the one on the three soldiers, Jackie Enlow, Donald Voglesong and Bobby Welch, were stories I'll never forget.

But of all the stories I've done through the years, I've gotten the most feedback on the ones about the small towns — Ramsey, Curby, Marengo, Grantsburg, Milltown, Mifflin, New Middletown, Alton and others. Those struck a chord with many readers and were a hoot to work on.

There's still a lot of untold stories out there, and I apologize for those I never got around to writing. But there's only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week. I'm sure there will be others who will take over my desk and computer, show up at Marcy's on Thursday mornings for breakfast and make everyone run away when they pull out a notebook and camera. Have patience with them, as you did with me.

Here in the newsroom, younger minds have moved in, and us older ones have to step aside. I learned to type on an old Royal typewriter, back when you had to really put some effort into banging on the keys. The younger people here grew up with computers, and you can hardly hear them type. Meanwhile, I'm over in the corner, banging on the keyboard as if trying to kill it, giving it the old Royal treatment and getting dirty looks from the others. And they know how to paginate, access and use all of the computer programs and create all kinds of files. I just jot everything down in an old notebook. And, you know, I still don't understand all that Twitter stuff. Yes, I guess it's time to go.

So, happy trails to you — till we meet again.

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    We shall meet
    May 06, 2012 | 03:32 PM

    I think you have done more than the best for us with your stories and wish you only the best in whatever you find yourself doing from hence.

    Okine, Richmond Afful
Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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