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Reflecting on nearly five years of columns

I read once that column writing is like gas – it fills the available space. I am thankful that you have allowed me the opportunity to fill this space, and perhaps be a voice in our community. It’s been nearly five years since this paper was first published, and when I began writing. This will be the final column for me, as all good things must come to pass.

I am thankful for the patience and latitude the editor, Mike Ellis, has shown over this time. I was not trained in journalism or creative writing, and admittedly, the first few columns were a little rough. They were more or less about trending area news stories. But as time went on, I explored writing fictitious narratives that were interwoven around local news and events. He gave me the time to grow into my voice, and to tell stories in my own way. Thanks, Mike!

And many thanks to the people I see around town, for the encouraging words, and for the feedback posted to my blog. It’s been a long run, and I certainly couldn’t have done it without the positive feedback.

The column has also allowed me to write about the things that interest me: family, faith, people, community and sports, just to name a few. The holidays especially provided a built-in subject matter, and often timed up well for many Thursday-morning delivery times, like today, Thanksgiving.

Holidays also gave me an opportunity to tie in a bit of history, including a Memorial Day column about the flagstone and copper-stained memorial plaque near village hall that honors 184 people who served in time of war, and took a deeper look at the six who had a star next to their name. And a Veterans Day column called “The Sacrifice you will Never Know”, in which I interviewed a Vietnam vet, and shared his stories and fears about the reality of war.

The creative side of writing didn’t feel that foreign to me, because I had a lot of practice telling bedtime stories to my children. They would often ask me to share childhood memories of owning pets or about the sports I played. I found it easier to get them to close their eyes at night when I made up fictitious stories about Thomas the tank-train and his arch rival, Diesel 10.

The July 9, 2015 column, “The Tickenator” was one of those made up stories. It was a tale about a police officer with a disturbed upbringing that had fashioned him into an out-of-control, ticket-issuing machine as an adult. He loved to slap down tickets, especially on one particular Caddy (mine). This was one of my favorites but some of the local officials and police didn’t think it was very funny.

The Talk of the Town column gave lots of shout outs, and promoted the businesses in Clarendon Hills. The Daily Scoop, The English Garden Flower Shop, Brama La Pizza, Clarendon Hills Auto each got their share of these. And recently, many local ladies who own network marketing businesses got a column written about them. The fundraising gala events for local charities, the park district, the village and the park foundation have each been the focus of this column. They were easy targets for sharing their news and events since they are near and dear to all of us.

 

The two football-related columns I wrote were near and dear to me. In 2014 I wrote “When I think of football” about Bill Huskisson, a legendary player and coach at Hinsdale Central, that was a giant of a man, yet had a bigger heart for the underdog. And recently I wrote “The lessons I learned from football” which in turn got a lot of online feedback, because it explored how the game has become a safer vehicle, and delivers lessons to our children that can last a lifetime.

 

There have been 124 columns, each with 500-1000 words. Over this time I had four guest writers, one being my wife, Amy, who wrote three, and my son Noah sat on my lap as we wrote his together (another favorite). I am not done writing altogether, but it is time to take a break and put down the pen. Thanks for listening. You can find all of my columns and future writings on my blog at themccurrygroup.com/blog/.

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