These were the tools of my craft. They allowed me to chronicle the events and examine the people who made our communities tick.
They also contributed to the destruction of something that once gave me a source of pride: my penmanship.
My wife and I signed a whole lot of documents today while closing on the purchase of our new home in Princeton, Texas. Our daughter-in-law was there, too, and the title officer complimented her on her penmanship.
That was when I piped up and told her how my career ruined my own handwriting. “What did you do?” the title officer asked. I told her I was a journalist for nearly four decades.
You see, one of the challenges of doing what I did was to write fast and furious to make sure I got everything that was said or that I was able to record all the events I witnessed. Those events at times come and go quickly and you need to be alert to capture all the salient points that you might want to record as you report on them.
I interviewed plenty of men and women who were equipped with machine-gun mouths. They fired facts, figures, assorted data, cracked quips, made critical points in rapid-fire fashion. I had to capture them all.
So when you have to write quickly, well, you get my drift. One has no time to make sure you write capital letters as you were taught how to write them in the third and fourth grade. Yep, they used to teach that stuff in the old days. No longer.
I usually fared pretty well at report-card time. The teachers graded me highly on my penmanship.
Then I enrolled in college, studied journalism, embarked on my career and, as they say, the rest is history. My once-neat penmanship became history in the process.
I got into my share of beefs over the course of 37 years with the subjects of some of the reporting I did, and the commentary I offered. We’ve all heard about reporters’ notes being subpoenaed by courts when someone wanted to challenge the accuracy of what was reported. I never had my notes summoned.
Damn, I wish I could have had the pleasure of giving up my notes and then daring the lawyers and the judge to try to discern what I wrote.
Only I knew.
All that said, it certainly was a hoot trying to keep up with those events as they unfolded.