Thursday, July 29, 2021

Feeling Grateful

I can still vividly recall my first week on my first real, post-college job. I was hired to write news for the Monadnock Ledger, a feisty weekly in southern New Hampshire.

I typed up my first story on a video display terminal, saved it to a floppy disk, and dropped it on the editor’s desk.

Turns out I misspelled the last name of the town council chairman – one of the best-known people in the community. His name was Lawn, but it sure sounded like Long to me, the new kid in town.

Fortunately, I worked for a patient editor who caught the mistake before it hit print. He did not fire me for forgetting what I learned in Journalism 101.

That shaky first week feels like it was just a few years ago, but it was actually more than half-a-lifetime ago. Thirty-eight years and three months, to be exact, gone in a blur of deadlines and never-a-dull-moment days in Peterborough, New Haven, and State College.

Now it’s time for me to take a step to the side. This is my last issue as editor of Town&Gown.

Like many people, I struggle with the “R” word. I’m “retiring” from regular employment, but I still feel I have stories to tell and contributions to make. My plan is to continue that work here, but more on my own time.

Like so many who test the waters of retirement one toe at a time, I have no idea how I’ll react to not having a day-to-day job. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

I’ve talked with many people who have traveled this path already. None have expressed true regret. Sure, there are occasional days when they go a bit stir crazy (especially this past year). But mostly, they have plenty to fill their days with purpose.

As the old adage goes, no one on their death bed looks back and wishes they had spent more time at the office.

Still, I know that I am privileged to be able to make this decision at age 62.

I am also privileged to have spent the past five years working at T&G and its sister publication, The Centre County Gazette. We have a small team – just 10 people in our South Allen Street offices, supplemented by a dedicated group of freelancers. It’s like a family in some ways, dysfunction and all. But it’s a remarkably talented, creative, and resilient crew who pull together to put out magazines and a weekly newspaper through some challenging times.

I am biased. But after being around the journalism world for four decades, I can say that this community is blessed to have free publications of such quality. It’s a rarity.

It’s also a very tough business right now – very tough. Thank you for supporting these community resources by continuing to read and advertise.

Most of all, I am privileged to be married to Paula. Far too often over the past three-plus decades, she has put up with dinner eaten far too late, off-hours calls and emails, and a stressed-out husband with a looming deadline. She has done so with indescribable grace, thoughtfulness, and love.

She’s stuck with me now.

Mark Brackenbury

Editorial Director

[email protected]