It just keeps creeping closer, like one of those offshore fog banks I can see from my upstairs window. Another birthday on the horizon this week. It’s not a milestone birthday, unless you believe in the American Dream. A dream that, for some, translates into retirement at 62.
I don’t have time to think about that now. There’s a job to be done, projects to complete, ideas that have not yet evolved into projects — but they will. And as if all that was not enough to keep me busy, it’s an election year. A wise mentor, a third generation newspaper owner whom I worked for years ago, explained that the greatest responsibility of a community newspaper is to make sure voters are informed.
I have always been interested in elections and the candidates running for office. My father was a naturalized citizen who considered voting a privilege and a duty. He read his voter’s pamphlet from cover to cover, learned as much as he could about the candidates and carefully marked his sample ballot before heading to the polls. After he died, I found a copy of the 1980 presidential election sample ballot tucked away in the book he was reading.
Dad always enjoyed a good debate, whether it was at a holiday family gathering, a local City Council meeting or the night we sat together watching Kennedy vs. Nixon. And Dad respected elected officials — even the ones he didn’t vote for. The only president I ever heard him use Croatian cuss words about was Hoover.
The year I was born my parents bought their first TV, and I guess you could say I was raised by a village of news anchors. Night after night I sat at the kitchen table with my parents while the talking heads of television news unraveled the day’s events. And on Sunday mornings, the bacon was frying with “Meet the Press” in the background.
We watched local news and national news. Usually George Putnam on KTTV Channel 11 for the report from Los Angeles. Then it was Huntley and Brinkley who had a standing dinner invitation until about the time I started high school. Then Walter Cronkite joined us.
I always associate Mr. Cronkite’s voice with the shocking news of JFK’s assassination and the nightly count of wounded and deceased on both sides of the Viet Nam conflict.
My mother loved reading the Los Angeles Times. We did not have home delivery where we lived in the country, but as soon as I was old enough Mom gave me 50 cents and let me walk alone to Lucky Market to buy the first edition of the Sunday Times that came out Saturday afternoon. She introduced me to the color comics, but the only strip I ever followed was Brenda Starr, Reporter. That was Mom’s favorite and so it was mine.
I am feeling invigorated as I approach my birthday. The weather is good and election energy is in the air.
I acknowledge that I am a sum of all the parts that have come my way over the last 62 years: the immigrant father with a passion for politics; the curious mother who loved to read newspapers cover to cover; the elephant in the room called “television” that in my lifetime for the first time in history put world events in our kitchen; and, a vibrant comic strip heroine labeled a “no-nonsense modern woman” who worked her beat until she retired after a mere 71 years.
* Walter Cronkite’s signature sign-off during the 19 years he was the anchor of “CBS Evening News.”
Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at email@example.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.