There are the thank you cards and letters.
There are dozens of them, from a wide array of people. Coaches, parents, administrators, fans. People who read what I wrote then took a few minutes to thank me. And I didn't even have to write them back to say, "I was just doing my job." I had forgotten how many.
One from the coach who said he was blessed to know me.
One from the kid who thanked me for her very first interview.
Many from the parents.
Then there are the not-so-nice notes:
The mom who couldn't believe I called a baseball error an error in the paper.
The grandpa who said that writing "stealing bases" promoted stealing.
The several who demanded to know why I didn't write more about their team. Or their kid.
And there are are the ones in between:
"You do a great job."
"You are truly dedicated to what you do."
"I am a fan."
And one of my favorites:
"That story you did on the Carver basketball team was just the shit!" I had to ask someone if that was good or bad. I was assured it was good.
There is my garland of press passes accumulated over the years, from all the events I covered. Super Bowls, LSU baseball games, The New Orleans Zephyrs, The Olympic Track and Field Trials. And the one from a high school baseball tournament in Denham Springs, Louisiana. Caught unprepared that day, they simply wrote "PRESS" on a luggage tag and pinned it to my chest. I spent the whole day hoping no one took it literally.
|26 years of press passes|
|My reserved spots in the press box|
There is the memorial program and card from the coach I loved who died driving home to his family after his exhausting day. At his funeral, his widow set up a long table covered with his own mementos, including every story I had written about him, framed.
And the two big black scrapbooks filled with my first stories, purchased long before I knew there would be so many. It contains a copy of my very first byline on a story about a night charity golf tournament hosted by the former place kicker for the New Orleans Saints. And now my last, about a high school teacher and athletic trainer who lost one home to Hurricane Katrina and most of a second to Hurricane Isaac.
|My first byline (left), and my last.|
Then there are my favorite stories:
The local kid who lost his Bo Jackson baseball card in a tornado and, a few days later received a box from the star filled with goodies.
The 19-year-old with a 95 mph fastball who was being encouraged to give up high school to pursue a minor league baseball career. And the follow-up a few months later when he returned home broke and disillusioned.
The ones touting the awards I won for writing those stories. My certificates. The plaques hanging on my walls.
|Two-time LSWA Prep Writer of the Year.|
Graduation pictures and announcements from dozens of kids from over the years. My kids. All grown up now and sending their own kids onto the playing field.
All of my anniversary letters.
My farewell letter to the newspaper that laid me off in June. The too few replies.
I spent a day going through it all. Remembering. Smiling. Crying. Laughing. Shaking my head. My memories of a life, a job, a career I loved.