When I gave my notice a few weeks ago, I thought I’d spend the days reminiscing nostalgically about my years at the Jefferson Post and looking at everything as if it were the last time.
But to tell you the truth, I haven’t had much time.
Not to say I won’t miss this job for I surely will. Nearly 19 years in one place, you get pretty comfortable and familiar. You make good friends and lasting memories. You get to know the feel of a place.
But this job keeps me, and my fellow staff members, very busy, and we’re on to the next edition before the ink is dry on the last.
Ashe County is a small but bustling community. There is always something going on, and in our community newspaper we try to report on and provide space for it all.
From the time I come in, anywhere between 9 a.m. and noon, to the time I leave, anywhere between 6:30 p.m. and 6:30 the next morning, I stay busy. “They” always implied technology makes life easier, but they never said it would make you busier than ever.
When I started out here in 1993, computers were a newfangled contraption. There was no personal computer in my home on Doggett Road. I didn’t have a cell phone. I used a manual camera – and black and white film at that. And email, the curse of modern times, was unheard of.
When I started out in this business 27 years ago, I’d not heard of computers. I typed my stories on a portable typewriter and dropped my quarter in the nearest payphone if I was away from the office.
My how times have changed.
And it just keeps on changing. When I first came to Ashe County, I would often eat lunch with my husband in the parking lot of Thomasville Furniture, where he had worked for two decades. We would watch the changing of the seasons on the mountains. In spring, the leaves would appear from the bottom and move up. In fall, they would turn and then fall from the top down. That went on for eight years, until suddenly one day it was over. The plant closed and change had come again.
My husband has gone through more change than I have in these years, from Thomasville to Oldham to Leviton to AEV. It’s been one of the saddest experiences of my time here to watch these manufacturing facilities close and leave one by one. Thank goodness a few still carry on.
Some of the changes; however, have been good. Look what a metamorphosis the town of West Jefferson has undergone. I remember when Walmart was on the way and people said it would be the end of the downtown. But it adapted and look how attractive the streets are today.
See how modern and efficient facilities like Ashe Services for Aging, Ashe County Law Enforcement Center, Ashe County Courthouse, GE Aviation, Ashe County Public Library, Ashe County High School, Westwood Elementary School and Ashe Memorial Hospital have become. We’ve lost some longtime businesses, but others are always coming to take their place.
It’s the way of change, and the Jefferson Post is no different. This newspaper has undergone many changes since I first walked in the door, and the future no doubt holds many more to come. There has been a lot of sweat and tears, and a little bit of blood (from those long ago exacto knives) shed in this building. It’s been more like home than my own home sometimes it seems. I’ve probably spent more hours in this building than anywhere else in the county. And the many staff members I’ve worked with over the years have been my family.
And like those many family members who have scattered over the years, I too find myself leaving. Not for new adventures or a job in the city, but to do what some say can’t be done – go home again.
Monday I go back to work at my hometown newspaper in Marion, Va., the place I first began this journalistic journey. I did my internship there in 1982, and then worked there from 1988 to 1993 just before coming to Ashe County. In fact, if it wasn’t for meeting my future husband in Marion in 1992 and then following him here, I might have still been at that Marion newspaper. What a wonderful experience in this lovely county I would have missed.
No, I am not leaving for any reason other than to be closer to my mother who needs her offspring closer as she ages and faces health concerns while living alone. I am lucky to be able to continue my career in my hometown in a profession more suited it seems these days to the “young bucks” who grew up with this modern technology and easily understand its impact on today and tomorrow. For I’ve yet to own a smart phone, use a tablet or figure out how to link something on Facebook. Somewhere I imagine there’s an app for that.
As I leave, I take a lot of good memories with me and say goodbye to a lot of good people I’ve known and worked with over the years. You’ve brought me up when I’ve been down, taken me into your confidence, shared your special talents and insight, showered me with all manner of gifts, and called me friend.
You can’t buy that kind of experience. I thank you for it. If I may borrow the beautiful words of one special friend, “Ashe County, I love you.” Goodbye and God bless.