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20 years at the Ceres Courier
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This month was a milestone in my life and career.

Funny thing, it took a random encounter at the McDonald's at the corner of Hatch and Mitchell for me to realize it.

I was having lunch when I was approached by a woman who recognized me and said hi and proceeded to tell me that she has enjoyed my writing, my columns, over the past the years and that I haven't changed a bit. What was it, 20 years, she asked?

I was stunned at her accuracy. Yes, as a matter fact, I thought, I was hired Sept. 12, 1987.

That made two Wednesdays ago my 20th anniversary with the Courier.

I'd say it's a role that I grew into. I was a very green 26-year-old when I was hired by general manager Tom Paradise. But the Courier has been so much of my life - 43.4 percent of my life to be exact - that it's hard to think of a time when I wasn't here.

I can get depressed about it, actually. I can walk about 30 steps from my desk (which is in an office illuminated only by fluorescent bulbs), to the "morgue." Every issue I have produced is contained in books. Truthfully, it measures about six feet thick. My 20 years is represented by yellowed newsprint that is no longer relevant any more. If anything it's a historical record of what was happening at the time pieces were written.

So I try not to think about the here-today-and-gone-tomorrow work and remember the experiences and relationships. It's been an incredible experience. I can't think of a job where you can meet so many interesting people and see so many interesting things.

Certain experiences you never forget. A general assignment reporter or small town newspaper editor sees life for what it really is. You see the joys and celebrations and the tragedies. You sometimes get to go places that nobody else can, to see the action and the ugly truth up close and personal.

I remember seeing the bullet wounds of Ronnie Dale Cadwell, the man shot by Ceres officers on Darrah Street. I was between him on a stretcher and angry crowd of his friends across the street who wanted to take it out on a cop or two.

I will never forget watching suspects taken out of cars at gunpoint and feeling the adrenaline rush of watching it.

I've been there when police apprehended bank robbers.

I've seen the bodies of a husband and estranged wife, killed by whatever passions that stirred him to gun down both.

I've seen countless auto accident victims, the life drained from them in twisted heaps of metal.

I've watched a number of key buildings go up, including the Wal-Mart, Raley's and Staples, Home Depot. I've written about exciting projects that never came to pass, like 12 screen movie theaters and ice skating rinks.

I've heard countless candidates fill my ear full of campaign promises with no clue as to how to follow through with them if elected.

I've typed the obituaries of literally thousands of people, many whom I never knew and some who I considered friends.

I'll never forget the time Police Commander John Chapman calmly pulled a robbery suspect out of a shed after he escaped from a police interview room.

The technological changes have been amazing over the 20 years. The old system required pasting up pages. Now it's all electronic. If there was breaking news, we'd have to go out and shoot the pictures, come back and develop the film, wait for the negatives to dry and print it up. Even then, you didn't know what kind of photo you would come back with. Now it's the digital age - instantaneous photos and instant downloads. I'd never go back in a million years.

While technology may have changed, human nature remains the same. We're still fallible creatures and subjected to some cruel conditions in life. If anything, I have a kinder view of humanity because of my experiences as a reporter. Life is terribly short and some of those lives are terribly tragic. I remember words of Jesus who surmised that people were "harassed and helpless." More and more I am understanding that it is our job to help out as much as we can, and make the best decisions we possibly can, while we all plod along our short days.

How do you feel? Let him know at