I can’t remember what all I brought with me my freshman year at Washington State University. I do know I had a spanking new Merriam-Webster paperback dictionary, a second-hand Neil Young “After the Gold Rush” album and some vague notion that I was going to major in accounting.
The dictionary grew dog-eared and the album scratchy from years of use.
My ambition to become an accountant didn’t last a week.
I guess I always knew I’d rather be a storyteller than a bean counter, even if the tradeoff was dimes on the dollar.
Newspapers lured me in from an early age. I graduated from Peanuts and Seattle Pilots box scores to crossword puzzles and current events.
The day I first walked into The Daily Evergreen college newsroom to the clack and hum of IBM Selectrics, I felt a sense of purpose and belonging. I found a home there and my future wife.
For nine years, I worked for small weekly and daily newspapers, mainly in timber towns. Everett seemed big time, and I knew Snohomish County was where I wanted to plant roots and raise a family.
It’s hard to believe that I joined The Daily Herald 30 years and thousands of bylines ago.
I often wonder what kept me in this sometimes heartbreaking, often stressful, mostly unpredictable business for so long. Perhaps I wasn’t original enough to re-invent myself, but I prefer to believe that I still find meaning in the work, that chance to write a story that just might resonate with readers or do some good.
Nearly 40 years later, I’m indebted to strangers who are willing to share with readers a part of their lives.
The job has given me license to explore my love of history, to dig up documents, to learn from tribal elders, to watch high school science students cut and paste DNA in their labs and to write obituaries for the well-known and the little known, and occasionally my own co-workers.
These days, I’m literally the graybeard in the newsroom, the local news editor overseeing a staff of about a dozen reporters, including three Everett High School graduates. Each – the 20 somethings to the 60 somethings – is bright, polite and hard-working.
I am grateful every day.
Eric is The Herald’s local news editor. Support him and the newsroom with a subscription or donation.