Life should be lived and enjoyed

A discovered photo of a 30-year-old newspaperman in 1977.

A 1977 photo from my days as a 30-year-old newspaperman in Alton, IL, surfaced this week as The Floyd Press was sorting through its archives as part of a move to a new office. The photo was used by the paper for a news report when I left journalism for a while to work for a Congressman on Capitol Hill.

That photo of a trim young man with thick, black hair attired in a three-piece suit, brought back many memories.

At age 65.

I still have a beard, mostly white now, but hardly-ever wear suits, I posted the photo on Facebook, which brought comments, including some from friends not heard from for years.

Where, I wondered, has the time gone?

I thought about that last Friday night as I photographed a winning Buffaloes football game on the same field that where I shot photos of games and homecomings more than 55 years ago as the school photographer while attending Floyd County High School.

One of the comments on Facebook about the photo came from a woman who was a classmate shot spent some time on dates with me in my ’57 Ford in those days. Another lady was one who remembered a few years earlier that I used English Leather aftershave in high school. How, I wondered, did she remember that from so long ago?

Three years of work at The Floyd Press during high school provided experience that helped me get a daily newspaper gig at The Roanoke Times in 1965. When I packed my few belonging in that ’57 Ford to leave Floyd County that year, I said “goodbyes” to a place where that was my fourth home in the first 17 years of life. I doubted returning.

In 1981, Amy and I packed our furniture and belongings into a rented Ryder truck to drive from Alton (home for 12 years) for the drive to Washington, DC. where a condo in Arlington became my seventh home for the next 23.

Amy Thompson on a trip on Amtrak’s Acela to New York City in 2001:

Amy, a native of Belleville, IL, in the St. Louis area, lived a nomadic existence as she and her mother followed her union construction worker father to job sites around the country, including New Orleans (a city she loved) and Baltimore (which she called “Detroit with acne”).

But they always had a home in Belleville and spend we spent months together there after her mother died, clearing it out and preparing the home for sale in 2004.

She as an actress when we met, and she worked on stage, in commercials and various places, including time as “resident heroine” on the Goldenrod Showboat in St Louis helping on a tribute to Lee Strasbourg in New York with Al Pacino and others. My work in Washington required extensive travel, and she often accompanied me to places like London, Rome and Israel.

During a Congressional election campaign in 2002, we spent several months in Albuquerque and explored the state and its history. We talked about possibly retiring there.

But a need to be with my mother in her later years brought us to Floyd after we decided to leave the Washington area in 2004. Mom died in 2012 and this had become home.

And I’m back working with the newspaper where I started so many years ago.

That young face staring back at me from the 1977 photo doesn’t have the scars of mishaps suffered since them.

We’ve lived and experienced a lot. Our 40+ years together shocked friends who said our marriage in 1979 would never last. Amy says I’m on at least 19 of my nine lives.

My father died at age 29 in 1948. All of his brothers died before age 30, so I wasn’t sure I would last three decades, but the photo from 1977 showed I did.

I left Floyd County in 1965 with no intention of ever returning, but I did. As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same, except for that thinning gray hair and a face with more than a few scars.

That’s life. Isn’t there a song about that?

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