Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Newspaper memories come in fall colors

By Steph Tahtinen


By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

Yesterday I was driving back to Mt. Pleasant from Oakland Mills and I was admiring the fall colors along Oakland Mills Road (or Jefferson Street, whichever you choose to call it). I started laughing to myself because the thought of the fall colors brought to mind my college newspaper advisor, Joel.

I’m not sure how the joke ever got started — it was already an inside joke for the newspaper staff when I joined — but every fall the staff of The Stinger would tease Joel about doing a feature story on the fall colors.

Maybe too many years in the newsroom had made him cynical, or maybe it was too many years dealing with smart aleck journalism students. Either way, someone would suggest this topic with a high amount of false enthusiasm, and Joel would grumble about it (with a smile) as he questioned his or her journalistic ability.

Thinking about Joel’s hatred for features on changing colors made me nostalgic for the good ol’ days hanging out in The Stinger office, located in the basement of the student center.

There were many late nights spent editing articles and working on layout in that windowless office. I remember one night at about 11:30 p.m. our web editor yelled out in frustration, “What are we still doing here? We’re students! We’re supposed to be up to shenanigans!”

Not that we were really the shenanigan type. The riskiest thing we did was sneaking our editor-in-chief’s dog, Precious, into the office. Precious would run around in her little pink sweater while we worked. We tried to keep her quiet so that the night guard wouldn’t catch us and so that Joel wouldn’t hear her barking when he called to see how we were doing.

Joel always called the office every night at 8 p.m. before he went to bed. He’d make sure we weren’t having any problems and we’d tease him about going to bed so early.

His phone call became such a part of our routine that we got really worried one night when he didn’t call. Finally about 9 p.m. we tried calling his house but only got his answering machine. The five of us on the editorial board seriously discussed buying him Life Alert, as we pictured him splayed out on the living room floor, unable to reach the phone to call for help.

In reality, he was out on a date, as we found out at the newspaper staff meeting a few days later.

It’s sad to think about how I have lost touch with these people. At one point, we were together nearly every day, working on the bi-weekly paper and then the daily website and once-per-semester magazine issue. Once that common goal was lost, though, the camaraderie fizzled out.

Yet, that’s the way that life works. For everything there is a season. Although we may not be in each others’ lives now, we will always have that shared experience. And the memories will always be there, ready to be triggered by something as simple as colorful leaves.

So this one goes out to Joel and my fellow Stinger members, though they’ll probably never get the chance to read it. I finally had the chance to write about fall colors, Joel. I can picture you shaking your head at the thought.