Twenty-five years ago this month, I was sitting at my desk contemplating what I was going to write in my first column for the North Platte Telegraph.
My assignment from my boss, Keith Blackledge, was to cover the second annual Robert M. Rouch Memorial Living Christmas Tree.
Soon after I moved back to North Platte from Washington, D.C., I got to attend the very first performance the year before. The performance was thrilling, mesmerizing. When I found out it was my first assignment, I was over the moon. I couldn’t have been happier.
It was a leap of faith that the Telegraph even hired me. This eager beaver had made her mark as a junior college student, but since then my life had changed thanks to multiple sclerosis. I had a lot of baggage this time around. Since I couldn’t use my hands or walk or drive, there would be challenges, I was up for it.
As I look back, I must have been determined the day I called Keith and said I was ready to go to work and start writing again.
He never doubted me for a second. He only asked me one question: “Do you have a computer?” My answer to him was, “Don’t you have a computer lying around here somewhere for me to use?”
I should have known that Keith would go to bat for me. In a few days, Diana Hipple from Vocational Rehab called. She said they would get me a computer if I worked so many hours a week at this job.
As I write this column today, I realize just how convoluted and complicated the process was back in 1996. So much has happened, I cannot even wrap my mind around the modern world of technology today.
It was Mary Ann Blackledge who named my column, “Church News & Views.” She was one of my “go-to” volunteers who typed my column for me. I talked — she typed.
I had many friends who came alongside to help me complete my column. They knew how important this was to me. I am forever grateful for their help.
There were many “angels” who were a part of my mission as a journalist. Other jobs had to be done, such as holding the phone to my ear as I conducted interviews. (Try to hold your head still while you are talking. I was like a moving target.) A friend down the street came to my house, loaded my column onto a floppy disk and delivered it to the Telegraph each week.
All in all, it took about three days and a number of very patient people to complete a column. I get tired just thinking about it. (Phew.)
Writing today’s column took me on quite a journey down memory lane. There is so much more to share. Some of you may remember those early days along with me. This may be new to some of my more recent readers. As I have always said, “You keep reading and I’ll keep writing.”