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Winding Roads: Time to try something new

Monday, February 21, 2005

After my second child, my husband said it was time to stay home full-time and give up teaching. I did. I never thought of having a second career as a salesman or reporter of a newspaper. But I did.

I started as a volunteer at 'The Chronicle' and threw myself into helping them out. It was different and fun for the most part.

I took the task seriously trying to fulfill my responsibilities with always something new to learn. I recall having a chart made for me with ad sizes so I'd know how much to charge. Looking back, it seems ridiculous.

Much of my time in Jan. and Feb. of 1993, was spent in Des Moines Methodist Hospital where my only sister spent her final days. I was devastated. When I returned to the paper, it was gloom and doom. Some businesses pull back on advertising and others had planned their advertising with the Times. I suggested doing a special salute, March is designated as ag month.

The owner, Marvin Wilmes, commented, "You get me six ads and I'll do it."

Can you imagine? On the way home I scolded myself. What did I know and how was I going to sell ads? The next day with my courage up, I headed to Marcus ag businesses I knew well. I came away with about 10 ads in a short time.

When I carried the ads into the paper, the group made me feel like a hero. Not a smart move on my part, as I was asked to go to other towns. Determined, I managed. That whole episode set me up as their ag rep and it carried on until the last three years.

I can remember going to farm meetings to be the only female in the group. I stuck to my guns and in a year or so, I began to feel comfortable with it. It was then I went on the payroll.

I divided my time between writing and selling until the last three years when they put me full-time on the writing end. I really liked the mix. Although I was to do the same thing each day, each day was always totally different. I never got bored.

When asked to cover the MMC school board and council meetings, I wrote it similar to a secretary writing up minutes of a meeting. They had to be long on patience with me---yeah, still do. I loved going to hear what was going on and stay up with it.

Do any of you remember my first set of columns? I interviewed every restaurant owner in the county and then some. I got such a chuckle out of folks liking those articles wondering where I'd be going the next week.

Another set was stories on all of the churches. Folks tended to like those as well. The first story was about Mount Pleasant. When I called Father Gene Sitzmann about interviewing him, I felt apprehensive for a short while on the phone as he said, "Before I set a time, I want to tell you----." In an instant I thought I had written something terribly wrong. Instead, he was complimentary and noted he had used my article as a base for his Sunday sermon. Man, was I thrilled as my head swelled with pride.

I have enjoyed meeting many wonderful people who were so cooperative when I'd give them a call. Whether, it was the cook of the week, a remodeling story, a senior citizen, farmer or business owner, it was fun. I was amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone was.

I learned the power of the press through experience. I was amazed. To voice my opinion, I realized I had to take criticism when it came. It was exciting and rewarding. After working hard on a story and then finding a mistake, it simply negates all the effort one puts into it.

For the most part, I enjoyed giving my opinion---especially when I have strong feelings about a topic.

As I have said many times, I respect those who disagree when they are up front with it. You agree to disagree which makes for a healthy discussion.

This isn't a totally permanent farewell. I reached a fork in this winding road of life. Half wants me to remain where I am. This is more of a kick than attending a club or group meetings. But my better half wants to do some traveling and needs me as his map reader. How long this will last is anyone's guess? A week, a month or year may do it, who knows? We will have to see if I can find time to write a little on the side.

I do know as we age, we tend to avoid changes in life. We are more comfortable with the familiar. That is a sign of aging. No one is indispensable and especially me. Yes, I could write a book but it only would be entertaining to me.

I'll borrow a line from of my favorite all time comedians, "Thanks for the memories". You will be hearing from me now and then as I will try to do some articles for special tabs. Meanwhile, you may enjoy the work of the Chronicle Times younger version of Nancy.