Thursday was a busy, busy day for me.
There were deadlines. There were people phoning in last minute to tell me news breaking stuff that should have been front page after I already had the front page done.
There were stories to write, cutlines to write and the correct spelling of names to check and re-check.
Mostly there were pages to fill; huge blank pages that screamed for news, not ads.
Years ago a wise man, a well seasoned newspaper man who not only lived during the days of hot lead, but actually worked with that archaic tool, told me journalists had one purpose and one purpose only.
“You fill the white spaces between the ads, that’s what you do,” he said.
I had a peculiar fondness for the old man, who was gruff and short with words, and very handy with an exactor knife. I met him during the days of cut and paste and light tables and dark rooms and broad sheets. I met him when us newspaper types wrote the stories and then ran them through some kind of machine that no longer exists. The stories came out sticky and in columns and we carefully placed those columns on pages laid out on light tables. We used the exactor knife to cut the columns in straight lines, a job I was never very good at.
The pages were then ‘shot’ in the back and then the negatives were laid on the light tables and we opaqued all the white dots on them with this curious little red marker.
When that was all done, we drank black coffee, smoked furiously, and waited for the next assignment.
Then we started over!
But then computers came and cut and paste and light tables and negatives became obsolete. Unfortunately, cigarettes did not.
I entered the front door of the newspaper world just before all those things went out the back.
Luckily Jim, who was a press man and worked in production and seemed very old to me, took me under his newspaper wing and in the days when editors yelled a lot and production people did as well, he was kind to me.
I remember his kindness to this day, and when I was fortunate to receive recognition from the AWNA for a column I wrote years ago, I only wished he were alive so I could tell him.
But, getting back to Thursday.
It was busy. I was behind. No doubt, it was my fault and I had procrastinated somewhere along the way, being unrealistically optimistic about my time and energy.
Regardless, I had to fill the white space between the ads, and I had to do it to the relentless tick of the deadline clock.
Needless to say, I did not really want to take the time to go listen to William R.T. Boulton talk about his book, ‘I Miss Me’.
“I know quite enough about MS,” I mused to myself. “In fact, I know more than enough.”
But, I needed the story so I went.
Anyone of us who has had a brush with MS knows about it. We don’t need to hear the facts. We don’t need to hear the stories. We don’t need to hear about miracle cures that sound too good to be true simply because they are.
But any of us, whether we are affected by MS or not, need to hear about courage and faith and moving forward with a smile and a cheerful attitude when there is absolutely no reason to do so.
That’s what William R. T. Boulton did.
In spite of all odds, he never gave up. And, in so doing, he created the butterfly effect.
And inspired others!
And for that, I will always and forever be grateful!
ON THE OTHER SIDE