My life road is on the backstretch as I say goodbye to my 22-year journalism career at the Cariboo Observer. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my 68-year road trip, right up there with the birth of my children and now grandchildren.
I will never forget the day I walked into Jerry MacDonald’s office, mad as a wet hen because one of my contributions to the paper was scrambled. Before I could utter a word, he told me he had been meaning to call me as he wanted to offer me a job as the community reporter. I was dumbfounded but jumped at the chance. Without knowing I had journalism training and had worked in broadcasting, Jerry just knew I was right for the job. And I like to think I’ve provided good service to his memory.
Over the years, I have met the most amazing people. I soon figured out that every single person on the planet has at least five stories worth telling and if I can get just one from a fraction of the world’s population, I will be satisfied. On Monday I met an amazing woman with a survival story I’d love to write, but I reluctantly turned it over to my editor as I put down my pencil and notebook yesterday.
I was asked recently if I had a favourite story, event, photo-shoot or interview and I immediately replied, “all of them.”
As my contact list expanded, so did my circle of friends. Once you learn about someone, they often become a friend and the line for me between subject and friend was often blurred. My family rarely wanted to go to the store with me as it would become one conversation after another with people I met along the way.
The last 22 years have been shaped by my career. I’ve had outstanding opportunities to meet famous, infamous, ordinary and extraordinary people and, to the best of my ability, I told their story. I’ve covered just about every community event at least once, and some many times.
I’ve mourned the passing of many of this community’s finest citizens. Perhaps the one I still miss is Andy Motherwell. His knowledge and story-telling abilities were remarkable. I remember a road trip with Andy to Hap Bowden’s place, past Beavermouth. The journey was too short as he regaled me with stories all the way out and then back to town.
My work at the Observer is over, but there may be more journalism in my future, and possibly a book or some short stories, but that remains to be seen.
For now, I encourage you all to continue providing the foundation for this community newspaper. Be patient, I was once a greenhorn too. I thank everyone for helping me do my job; without all your input, I’d have nothing to write about. To quote a beautiful movie, “you were the wind beneath my wings.”
See you later.
Quesnel Cariboo Observer