Ground fog hugged the landscape at 0500 this Tuesday morning as I turned our Jeep Liberty onto U.S. 221 south for the four-mile drive into Floyd and then over to Floyd Fitness on Virginia Rte. 8 north of town for the daily 45-minute workout that starts each day.
Good time to think.
Circuit Court occupies much of the morning and, possibly, the afternoon on this Tuesday: Grand Jury day as the court starts its new quarter, along with a myriad of cases on various small and large crimes within Floyd County.
On Monday, friend Greg Locke chided me for still working at age 70.
“Why don’t you relax and do something you enjoy,” he added.
That’s the problem. What I do for a living is also what I enjoy. Photography is both a career and a hobby. So is video work. Writing is both therapy and work. These things are what I do. They also are who I am.
Former Roanoke Times columnist Joe Kennedy told me before he died four years ago that he felt lost after the paper forced him into early retirement.
“I realized just how much the column was a major part of my life,” he said. “I felt lost without it.”
Except for a brief foray into the dark side of life as a political operative, I have been a reporter, columnist and photographer for newspaper and other media organizations for 55 years, beginning at The Floyd Press age 15 in 1963 and returning to the paper in 2004 after more than 40 years roaming the globe in search of news and image possibilities for daily newspapers, magazines and wire services.
“For someone who roars at life while working on keyboard, you are an incredibly soft-spoken person,” a former girlfriend told me back in the 70s while I reported for The Telegraph in Alton, Illinois.
I had a temper for too many of my younger years but learned to control, thanks to more than 24 years of sobriety as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Working full-time also helps. A newspaperman, legendary Chicago reporter Finley Peter Dunne once wrote, “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”
Hopefully, I’ve helped some folks who needed assistance over the page five-and-a-half decades. Some of my stories helped put some criminals in prison and cost more than a few corrupt politicians their jobs.
Wife Amy once asked “when will you retire?”
“Don’t know,” I replied. “Maybe when they zip up my body bag.”