Roll out the barrel

Cease and desist with all activities promptly and gaze skyward. Do you spy the plane flying over with a banner in tow? Is your Aqua-net working overtime clinging to the confetti atop your head? Do you have the urge to plug your ears because of the blaring celebratory music filling the atmosphere? Is Aqua-net even a product these days? If none of the above pertains to you at this moment then you must have missed the excitement.

You see the whole area is cheering madly due to the fact that it is my anniversary with this fine, award-winning publication. I know it's shocking, lurid and quite true. Not to mention but I will, it's kind of a major milestone as I have been aboard the SS Community News for a DECADE as of this week. Isn't that delightful news?

I'm betting that the chief (David Schaef) will definitely make this a top of the fold headline. If he doesn't I will pitch myself into a corner and rock back and forth whilst clutching “Teddy” the bear. (Teddy was given to me by a real hippie with the nickname of “Maynard.” I got him in 1969 when I was in kindergarten and have had him ever since. He has seen me through love, hate, marriage, divorce—that might be the same as love and hate but I digress. Clearly I'm digressing to the max in general at this time and in these brackets to boot.)

Anyhow, this is indeed my anniversary in terms of being hired in general. The birthday of Rants and Raves is in September. In fact, the first time I penned an opinion piece was for the September 11, 2006 issue which should have given everyone pause at the time due to the infamy of the month and day.

I really don't have much about which to complain at this time so I'm not certain in what direction this piece will go. I simply wanted to throw myself a party in print. Hmm, what should I do in terms of providing some kind of rant or rave?

I think I will reflect on some of the memories from those days, which should guarantee a good night's sleep for anyone reading this in bed. Honestly it might not be very thrilling but it will be good for future generations to maybe read about how we used to arrange the paper.

I'm fumbling wildly to provide reasons to reflect when the truth of the matter is that I want to bloviate about this for whatever reason. I've been in a very reflective kind of mood lately and you will just have to bear with. Consider this as sort of a therapeutic column—yes we all know that I'm in total need of some major therapy.

I kind of happened upon this job opportunity because I was tiring of serving food to the public, which I had been doing for about 200 years at that point. I had just begun subscribing to this paper a month or so prior and thought maybe I'd reach out to the owner to see if he needed a reporter or a writer in general. He returned my telephone call and asked if I'd be interested in a sales position with some reporting thrown in for good measure. I was delighted with the prospect because I've always taken after my father in terms of being somewhat of a male bovine excrement expert. I've been told that one must possess such a quality in order to soar in any sales department.

Moving along, when I first interviewed with the chief, I got all gussied up in a skirt, jacket and a shirt of some kind. I stopped by my friend Mick's house because he simply had to view me wearing anything other than the purple slop that generally adorns my body. He seized a camera promptly in order to show others that I can, on super rare occasions, pretend to be ladylike. It was at that point that I was dubbed “Ms. Perkins” because, in Mick's odd opinion, I simply looked like a Ms. Perkins type, whatever that may be.

The interview itself was fairly easy as the chief isn't really a tyrannical sort of person. So there is nothing much to report about that aspect of it all. I recall my first day when I worked out of the actual newsroom, which was then located on the side street at the light. I was peddling the fall sports issue and Walter Howick was my first sale.

After I finished up for the day, the chief told me that I could work from home. In fact, now that I reflect, he stated this as he was using one of those “shoo fly shoo” hand gestures. It's becoming even more clear in my mind that he also said this with much excitement in his tone. I think I shall choose to be outraged and deeply hurt due to that memory surfacing. See, I told you this was going to be therapeutic for me.

Those were the days directly before we went digital so the whole operation was different. We had these YUGE (sorry, I can't get Bernie Sanders out of my system) sheets of paper on which the Community News was laid out. I don't remember what they are called but we would stick every article, picture and advertisement to each sheet of paper. (When I say stick I mean it because there was a glue type substance that would adhere to the back of all items. It would peel off and was easy to reuse as well.) This whole process was called the paste-up method of “newspaperology” minus that made-up word, of course.

I would travel to the newsroom weekly and retrieve stacks of these papers from years gone by. Then when a person said “yes” to advertising, I would stick said ad to another piece of paper and write down any changes that the client wanted.

When the paper was complete for that week the chief would drive it to the printer, if memory serves. It was either that or someone from the printing service would drop by the newsroom.

This only lasted through I think October of 2006 because, much to the chief's chagrin, we were forced at gunpoint to join the modern world and go digital. I can only speak for myself here but the whole digital deal seemed very scary and I was apprehensive about it. Now I can't believe we ever did it any other way.

Not only does the digital method make the paper turn out crisp and clean but it also cuts down on travel time. It also gives me the privilege of working from home. I can design the ads and then email them to the room of news all in the comfort of my shredded purple floral cotton pants and ripped up t-shirt. After that it's up to the chief to do all layout work.

You know, I'm boring myself at this point. I'm not falling asleep but I'm wondering how interesting this can be for anyone other than the chief and myself. The chief might even need a coffee IV at this moment.

I'm being a tad sarcastic because I honestly enjoy jaunts up paths of the past. (Memory lanes are so overly traveled these days.) There is nothing left to say other than it has been an intriguing decade of my life and I have garnered a ton of information during my time with this prestigious award-winning publication.

For one CLOSING example—and stop with that heavy exhaling, I did not know what a variance was prior to this gig. I crack up when I recall covering my first municipal meeting at which my tape recorder gave up the ghost and I had to LITERALLY call a lawyer friend of mine to ask the most elementary questions. I should be embarrassed but it takes more than that.

After all this time I have learned something that is very touching, moving, thought provoking and profound. You best reach for a tissue.

As hard as I may try and even though I've heard this on numerous occasions, I still burst forth in full-blown laughter when some local governmental official uses the word “signage” rather than simply saying “signs.” I shall stick to my original claim that signage sounds like a hideous nasal condition and simply does not put me in the mind of a stop sign.

See, I told you that the tissue would come in handy now didn't I? (Get it? Sinus condition, tissue—oh never mind. I give up.)