Kansas Sunshine

Kansas Sunshine

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Dizzy

"I'm so dizzy, my head is spinnin' ..."

It could be a dust-provoked headache generated by old newspaper clips and a basement storage room that hadn't seen the business end of a dust rag for quite some time. Or it could just be from the seemingly never-ending task of deep cleaning and purging.

For those of you who weren't fortunate enough to be around when Tommy Roe released his song, "Dizzy," in 1969 (insert slight sarcasm here), it's a line from that hit, which occupied the No. 1 slot for four weeks.

I liked the song well enough that I forked over some cash for the album of the same name. As I've been sorting and cleaning in the office, I found the album occupying some real estate among the predominantly Barry Manilow and Carpenters discs:

I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning
Like a whirlpool it never ends
And it's you, girl, makin' it spin.
You're makin' me dizzy



Of course, I have no turntable these days, so I had to pull it up on YouTube.

And the piles of paper (and other stuff) I've sorted and Randy has carried out of the house is "dizzying" in itself.

As I was going through yet more file cabinets and boxes crammed with dusty newspaper and newsletter clips, I texted my kids. In all honesty, I was feeling a little blue.
This is hard, I told them.

They didn't "know" me as a newspaper writer, and later, as an editor of the Focus (lifestyle) section, I told them. Brent was a baby when I quit the full-time commuting, and Jill was almost 3. I wrote a twice-a-month column, "At Home with Kim," for The News for several years when they were small. I also freelanced for a public relations firm in Hutchinson, writing copy for several quarterly newsletters. (These were in addition to the Stafford Main Street newsletter and The Messenger, the church newsletter which I am still doing when there's not a pandemic going on.)

But I hired a babysitter when I'd go for interviews for the newsletters, and I did most of my writing when the kids were in bed at naptime or the evening.

As I looked through story after story, I realized my kids just saw me as a Mom, and later, as a part-time school secretary and community volunteer.

I wouldn't change any of that. My most important job ever was being a Mom, and the other roles dovetailed nicely with that mission. But before I tossed all of the articles, I wanted them to know that I was pretty good at the newspaper/writing gig, too. I won plenty of state awards and even a few national awards for writing and editing.
Both of them acknowledged my difficulty in tossing things. (They both know I'm sentimental.) Here's what Jill had to say:
... Just because you're throwing away the physical reminders of your work at The News doesn't take away from the achievements you had and the hard work that went into it. ..."
Brent echoed:
... I agree that you should take pride in what you accomplished and the people and stories you amplified. It's good to know and remember. Throwing out a box of papers doesn't take away from that."

How'd they get so smart?

During one of our phone conversations, Brent asked me about what stories brought back the most memories.
One was from the first fire I was ever sent to. It's not because it was an award-winning story, but because it was my first venture into "hard" news. I had been hired as a lifestyle reporter. However, with a management change, all of us had to cover breaking news, community meetings, etc. It was one of the first times I had a front-page byline back when I was still Kim Moore. But I would have gladly given that up to skip covering the fire. The homeowner escaped, but her two dogs perished in the fire. I went to the car afterwards and cried.
Another front page article was a sidebar to a national story when the Shuttle Challenger exploded on January 28, 1986. With the afternoon paper still to go to press, I remember watching the TV and can still feel the intensity as the whole newsroom scrambled to write stories. The Hutchinson News was in a unique position because of the Cosmosphere, a museum on the Kansas Plains - an unlikely place for a Smithsonian-affiliated space museum.

I interviewed a Goddard science teacher who had been in the running for the Teacher in Space job that eventually went to Christa McAuliffe. I talked to both he and his wife by telephone about their impressions of McAuliffe during the workshops and pre-flight receptions. Even that day, he was ready to apply to be in the next teacher in space.
I uncovered a series of stories I did on the Amish and Mennonites in the area. I was invited into several of their homes and discovered a world much different from my own.
There were hundreds of colorful food pages and other food-related stories like Cook of the Week. I wrote the stories, but The News had a talented graphic designer at the time named Karen Scott. As the Focus editor, I enjoyed working with her to brainstorm ideas and produce quality pages every Wednesday.
For one of those food pages, I earned a runner-up finish in the national Golden Carnation Awards Program for nutrition writing. My managing editor told me I should go to the awards ceremony during the International Food Media Conference in New York City. I stayed in the hotel at the World Trade Center back in 1987, long before 9-11. It was quite an experience for a small-town girl from Kansas, and I later wrote about it for a column.
 
I met First Lady Nancy Reagan (and I have the picture to prove it) when I attended a American Press Institute seminar in Reston, Virginia, for lifestyle editors, shortly being named the Focus editor. (The managing editor at the time told me he wanted to move me from hourly as a reporter to salary as an editor so he didn't have to pay me overtime any longer. This was before kids, and I was still working on a work-life balance, I suppose.)
After I "retired" from The News, I did some freelance writing for a public relations firm in Hutchinson. I wrote the copy for Wesley Towers, a retirement community in Hutchinson from 1988 to 2014. (I remember Randy had to go with me to the first set of interviews because I was still breastfeeding, so I had to take some timeouts in the schedule. TMI?)

My favorite series for Wesley Towers was interviewing World War II veterans for a story that ended up spanning several issues. It required numerous interviews with our nation's heroes, as well as a lot of reading and research. I then wrote a series of stories, which became a living history lesson for me. So was a story about residents who had celebrated their 100th birthdays and a series about residents with Hutchinson businesses whose children had carried on the legacy and were still operating on Main Street and other storefronts in the community.
I wrote the Newton Medical Center Connection newsletter from 1989 to 1996 and for United Methodist Youthville's Crossroads from 1992-98, plus other articles assigned infrequently by the PR firm for AgTrax, the Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation, Training and Evaluation Center of Hutchinson and others.
As I was going through my piles of clips I'd entered in the Kansas Press Women contest through the years, I ran across this artwork:
So, yes, at the heart of it all, I was still a mom at the core.

And you know what? My kids are both pretty good writers, too.

(This post is more for me, so that there's some record - somewhere - of my writing career ... since I threw away most of this stuff - SIGH!) Maybe the soundtrack should have been "Memories" - not "Dizzy.")

We've lost count of all the trips to the trash pit, and I also sorted through some other tubs and boxes in the basement, plus did a long-overdue closet purge. Randy and I had dental hygiene appointments before harvest, and we ended up taking both the car and pickup to Hutchinson so that we could leave the car at the shop.

We filled both vehicles with goodies for Goodwill. I texted my family:
"Is it bad that my treasures filled up all the bins at Goodwill?"

I guess it was bad for the car in line behind me, but it's good for my basement storage area, and my kids are thrilled that I've gotten rid of some stuff. Thanks Covid-19? Hmmm ... I'm not sure I will go that far!

True confessions: I haven't done much (any?) sorting since harvest. Maybe posting this is my motivation to get started again.

6 comments:

  1. Your son in law was born late the night before the shuttle exploded. That morning the dr. came in and asked to turn on my TV. Good you have a picture of that article! E.L. also did a walk through of our basement when they were here...you're spurring me on!

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    1. I didn't put 2 and 2 together on the date! I really need to get busy again. I have miles to go before I'm done!

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  2. Congratulations on the enormous declutter you have acheived. Just wonderful to read more about the Farmer's Wife. It must have been tough letting much of this go. I love your children's comments.

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    1. Thanks, Helen. I am sentimental, so it is tough. But it's a good feeling, too.

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