When I'm working late at the newspaper and all is dark and quiet, memories flash before my eyes. It was 1995 when I was hired by Jim Fletcher and moved from my kitchen into the newsroom. I'd done my duty in the war zone at home with four kids and I felt it was time to do something specifically for me.
I still remember my first day and my first story. Milton police were putting a dummy in a patrol car as a deterrent to speeding. No, it didn't drive. It was parked along Dogwood Drive or Hwy. 90. People didn't catch on for a long time. In fact, some citizens called in, concerned about the officer who never moved and wouldn't roll down his window to speak to them.
My youngest son, Michael, was two when I came to work here. He's going to be 21 in a couple of weeks. I remember the self-doubt I felt as a mom, running off to work her dream job while my little guy was in daycare, learning how to defend himself.
One of the first thoughts I had when I came to work here wasn't about the job as much as it was about the people. I never before imagined so many genuinely nice people all in one office.
The paper has been bought and sold one or twice over the years. Our owners' names have changed, but the family inside the building remains strong. This group here on Elva St. begins with Rosie, who has worked here for 64 years. She has not changed much since I met her. There is Carol, our second-longest employee, coming in around 46 years with the paper. Then Jim Fletcher—and the rest all blend in around the same time I began here.
I was hired on as full-time editor last week. I am truly blessed and honored to be in this position. There is no other job for me. I moved to this town in 1995 and I have grown to love it over the years, as I watched my kids grow to call it home—and now, I have grandkids to watch grow here.
There have been good times and of course, there have been bad times. But I've learned it's not so much what kind of times a family is having, just that they are having them together, that everyone keeps coming back to the same place.
My mother told me once I should listen for those things in life that "purr" to me, that it is God speaking to me when a nagging feeling won't go away or when the path to an end is cleared away for me.
That is how I feel about the Press Gazette. It's not the biggest or most well known newspaper, but it purrs to me. It will always be a part of who I am. I've worked other jobs over my lifetime and nothing I've ever done has allowed me to just be myself and do what I do.
It feels really good to be home again.