It’s time for new adventures
Published 3:20 pm, Thursday, August 20, 2015
It seems when my brother, Art, retired from journalism in 2014, everyone assumed I should be joining him at any moment.
Rumors of my imminent retirement have been just that.
I have conflicting emotions when I say I'll be stepping down as editor of The Greater New Milford Spectrum, effective Sept. 5.
Helping to produce The Spectrum for nearly 18 years, and for more than two decades before that The New Milford Times, has been so much of my life.
I have a wonderful family and many friends, have traveled often and have enjoyed countless good times outside of work.
Yet, as those close to me can attest, my existence has been built around - it could be said dictated by - my job with the newspaper.
Each day of the week has held a special significance in the unceasing seven-day process of creating yet another newspaper worthy of our readership.
The list of valued professional peers and office cohorts is far too lengthy to detail. Suffice to say each of you has brought more than you know to my life and my newspaper career.
However, one person has remarkably been there nearly every step of the way.
Starting back in 1974 and leading right up through his retirement 14 months ago, my brother, Art, was journalistic role model, mentor, sounding board, occasionally sparring partner, and always wise counsel to his kid brother.
And throughout our nearly 18 years publishing The Spectrum, Deborah Rose has been our kind, professional and incredibly efficient liaison to so many in the public. Many a day, I have leaned on her calm demeanor when I’ve experienced personal and professional challenges.
Deborah is still at the wheel, working hard every week to create the best Spectrum possible to our readers.
Meanwhile, Art is thoroughly and deservedly so enjoying a busy and rich retirement, and I look forward to joining him in that realm soon.
But first, two more editions will bear my name as the Spectrum editor.
That'll bring my ledger to somewhere more than 2,000 New Milford Times and Spectrums to which I've been a significant contributor.
Thinking about that reminds me of my age and the countless hours, typically 60 to 70 per week, I have dedicated to my job. All-nighters before deadline day were not an unusual occurrence back in the '80s and '90s with The Times, experiences often shared with Art.
Yet the satisfaction of a job well done and the reward of positive feedback from readers again and again provided the adrenalin to quickly get started on yet another edition.
I'll very soon need to find focus in other aspects of life to keep that adrenalin flowing. I'll likely struggle to remember which day of the week it is.
As I do, I will have an incredible archive of memories to enjoy and, better yet, a legion of cherished friends gained from my job with whom to share my post-journalism days.
Where to begin when thinking back? What have been the high points of more than four decades in community newspapers?
Probably the best bet would be the many thousands of kids I've gotten to know from youth sports, then high school sports at New Milford, Shepaug Valley and other area high schools. I'm a lucky guy that so many of you, and your parents, have chosen to keep our friendships alive into your post-school lives.
Many a grandparent of current young athletes were once those precocious boys and girls learning to dribble a basketball, or hit a baseball off a tee, whose images I captured during my early years in journalism.
Oh, how the years have flown by... the state and league championships won and lost, the tears of joy and the sadness I've photographed.
I've been so fortunate to witness life lessons imparted on eager teens and youngsters by such gifted educators and coaches as Russell Devin, Ted Alex, Fran Zaloski, Joe Wiser and Joan Gauthey, and many others who have left positive and indelible marks on their student-athletes.
The roll call of wonderful teachers, coaches and mentors in life leads right up through the decades to current educators and coaches who bring every bit as much to their craft as those aforementioned legends.
It's been such a privilege to cover youth and adult sports, and especially high school sports, school plays, high school and middle school graduations, those all-night NMHS grad parties, adult education graduations and proms.
I was told countless times I seemed to be everywhere to chronicle the lives of our readers. Well, I wasn’t, not really, but it did feel that way to me at times, too.
It surely would have been nice to have seen NMHS boys' basketball win just one league championship, and to have Green Wave football somehow dig itself out of a half-century of struggles to become a consistent force on the gridiron.
I suspect I've seen more Green Wave boys' basketball games than anyone, and quite possibly more football games, too. I've been lucky to see local high school teams win many, many state and league championships, but just once it'd have been great to see NMHS boys' basketball or football claim a title.
I'll continue to hope that happens in the near future and that I'll be there to take it all in.
Perhaps the one event with which I feel most associated in the New Milford eight-mile road race.
Believe it or not to those of younger years, I actually used to be in shape and wished I could one day run the race. My job was to photograph the eight-miler, however, and I've done so every year but once from 1977 right up through this past July 25.
Over the years, I've felt as much a cheerleader as photographer as I've stood near or at the crest of Canterbury Hill capturing the images of and cheering on those who dug deep to once again conquer the hill.
"Witness to history" is a much-used phrase, but that's what some might feel I've been in this corner of northwest Connecticut.
I'd like to think I've been part of that history, documenting the highs and lows of life in New Milford, Sherman, Kent, Warren, Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater, and oftentimes at points well outside the Greater New Milford area.
The seemingly annual floods, the fires, traffic accidents, drownings... all have been part of my life. Anniversaries of all sorts, births, deaths, all have been a part of my week to week agenda. Memorial Day weekends have been among my busiest work days for decades.
When most of you have sequestered yourselves at home during the worst snowstorms, hurricanes and such, my job has often necessitated me heading out to photograph what Mother Nature has wrought, and to capture images of emergency responders and others who put their well-being at risk to help others.
Local elections dating back to the 1970s, whose outcomes have helped shape our communities, have provided some of my most vivid memories. I'll miss covering this November's election.
I'm also sorry I won't be able to chronicle, in New Milford, the ribbon-cutting for a possible restoration of the historic Boardman Bridge and the new home for Loaves & Fish Hospitality House.
I sincerely hope New Milford voters turn out in force this fall to keep the John Pettibone School building and property under the town's ownership, to be wisely used in many ways for many years by the community.
I've been asked many times what I will do to fill the hours when I retire. The better question I ask myself: how will I fit all I want to do into the hours given me in coming years by the grace of God?
I can tell you I will be around. Once I get my bearings in my new life, I hope to offer what skills I can to various local organizations, and you might occasionally see me around town with camera in hand, either plying my skills just for fun or if I decide to test the waters as a freelance photographer.
I love New Milford, and I love each of the six neighboring towns I've for so many years referred to as Greater New Milford... why would I leave?
Thank you all for your kindnesses, your support over the years, your contributions to The Spectrum, for calling me a friend and, in many cases, for taking me in as a veritable member of your families.
Interaction with so many of you, in so many venues, over so many years, has been a joy for me. I truly appreciate the cooperation and willing efforts of so many in the schools, town governments and other organizations to help us produce a vibrant, creditable Spectrum.
The Greater New Milford area, the state and the nation need a strong media presence, including lively, interactive, community-oriented weekly newspapers and websites. Please do yourself and me the favor of continuing your support for The Spectrum as it moves forward.
I don't have answers about its future but I do know the editorial leadership of Hearst Connecticut recognizes and appreciates what an important part of our community The Spectrum is, and plans to do what it needs to maintain its quality as it documents life in Greater New Milford.
It has been a wonderful trip for me.
Keep in touch... I hope to see you soon.