The reporter as a young man

Birth certificate says it all: Born 60 years ago on this date to a Scotch-Irish mother from Meadows of Dan, Virginia, and a Scotch-Black Irish-Seminole Indian father from the West Coast of Florida.

Sixty. At 18, wasn’t sure of making it to 21. In those days, 30 seemed far, far away.

Always in a hurry to do something, to go somewhere, to succeed. Two years of summer school and two years of full course loads without a study hall meant graduation from high school a year early.  Always in a hurry. Gotta go. No time to look back, just ahead.

At 18 (right), the youngest full-time reporter ever hired by The Roanoke Times. Always expected to be the youngest to do things. At 19, the youngest reporter to win a first place in feature writing from the Virginia Press Association. By 24, a photographer and writer with bylines in newspapers and magazines. Colleagues at The Alton Telegraph in Illinois used the term “wonderboy.” Wasn’t always a compliment.

When success comes early and seemingly easy, the danger is complacency. Didn’t have time to be complacent: Too many places to go, too many stories to cover, too many things to accomplish.

Off to Washington at 32, still the youngster among old-timers, always aggressive, always pushing, always striving.  By 40, no longer the youngster and considered old by others. Stopped for a second and looked around at the youngsters nipping at heels, accomplishing far more at their age. Began to feel old. At 50, age begins to show: Aches and pains from too many broken bones, too many medical procedures, too many chances taken at the expense of health.

Amy makes convincing argument to slow down three years ago and left Washington for the relative serenity of Floyd County and promise of a slower pace and more time to relax and reflect.

Relax and reflect? Wrong. High school sports to photograph, plus county government and courts to cover for the local paper, a daily column for a national political web site, volunteer activities, a new office and gallery to open and a home the size of a small bed and breakfast with a front yard the size of a small state.

Satchel Paige said it best:

Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Where does the time go? Where did it go?

Sixty. My God. Might think more about it someday. Not now. Gotta go.