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Column: The long and winding road
Jim Tatum (press).jpg
Jim Tatum

Forrest Gump didn’t actually say, “life is a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.”

At least, Forrest didn’t say that in the book, which, for a literary snob like yours truly is what counts. In the treacle-like movie version, which was more of a knock off of the classic Peter Sellers vehicle “Being There,” he said something to that effect. But in the great and darkly satirical Winston Groom novel, what Forrest actually said was, “I may be a idiot, but most of the time, anyway, I tried to do the right thing, an dreams is just dreams, ain’t they? So whatever else has happened, I am figgerin’ this: I can always look back and say, at least I ain’t led no hum-drum life.”

I’d like to think that’s been sort of my ultimate game plan – try to do the right things and not live a hum-drum life. I think I’ve done OK.  As far as making a living goes, if it hasn’t been terribly lucrative, at least it hasn’t been terribly hum-drum, either. I guess it’s all in one’s perspective.

In every life, as in every good book -- or even bad movie -- each chapter comes to an end and foreshadows the next chapter to come. That’s where I am now -- the end of one chapter and the start of a new one.

Who knew my foray into community newspapers would last some two decades? Hey, who knew there would be a foray into this at all?

Certainly, I didn’t. It just worked out that way -- I was just another out-of-work freelance scribbler when Mike Mischner first took leave of his senses, uh, I mean, took a chance on me in 1998, then did it again in 2003 and 2015.

It’s been a terrific run. I’ve learned a lot. In fact, I’ve learned about more stuff than I ever dreamed of knowing and done more stuff than I ever dreamed of doing, a good bit of which I otherwise wouldn’t have voluntarily learned and/or done at gunpoint.

I’ve met some of the most extraordinary people over the years, folks who, had I not been doing this, I would have never had the pleasure and privilege of learning and telling their stories. Many of those characters have been right here in this community.

I’ve worked with some of the best folks anyone would ever have the privilege to know.

I’ve pretty much done every job in the newsroom and written every kind of story imaginable, except for maybe sports coverage -- no, wait, I did write about the ’96 East Coast Surfing Championships. Does that count?

I can’t say I’d advise anyone else to go into this business -- in fact, I would tend to believe most normal people would probably run screaming into the streets instead -- but if you have what my White House correspondent uncle used to call the compelloration, it can be very rewarding -- and it has certainly been a good one for me. In spite of myself, I’ve managed to rise through the ranks and achieve quite a number of personal and professional goals. And now, after 20 years, it’s time to turn the page. I am a little wistful -- and more than a little nervous -- but I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next. While I doubt I will pursue any mid-life notions to become, say, a venture capitalist or a wildlife cinematographer, I am going to actively continue to work to see that life doesn’t ever turn hum-drum.

I’ve definitely been blessed. I’ve certainly had fun. And I believe I leave this office, this paper, and you, the reading public, in good hands with the keen eye amd penetrating pen of my successor/predecessor/old friend/terrific journalist/all-around-great guy, Martin Cahn.

What else can I possibly say now but, “see you around,” and most important, “wow -- thanks!”