Dare I say it for the 137th time in this space?
Not long ago, as I was about to exit the Globe building by way of the glass door at the front entrance, I hesitated because I saw someone on the other side of the glass who was about to enter.
Then I quickly realized the person on the other side was actually my own reflection in the glass.
And I thought to myself, have I really reached the point in life when I don't know whether I'm coming or going?
Well, I do know. After 52 years, I am out of the full-time newspaper profession, although you'll still see the weekly column and occasional news and feature stories from me.
And I know that if you can't laugh at yourself, you're missing a really good time.
It's at times like this that I think of the 1960s song lyric, "Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end."
I have been blessed to be in a profession that allowed me to interview Barack Obama while he was eating a lasagna dinner at NIACC; John McCain while he was eating a tuna fish salad sandwich at the airport; and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she was searching for a place in Mason City where she could get a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup at 10 o'clock at night.
I have had the good fortune to cover presidents Trump, Obama, and George H.W. Bush when they were candidates and to meet and report on presidents Ford, Clinton and George W. Bush when they were in office.
I have interviewed three Nobel Peace Prize winners, an astronaut, dozens of entertainers and countless politicians.
None of them come close to leaving an impression on me like the everyday North Iowans who have crossed my path over the years.
- People like Hobert Duncan, a former baseball player and coach, who, in his 90s, stood up in Perkins restaurant and, with a butter knife in hand, demonstrated to everyone around him the proper way to bunt a baseball...
- People like Harold O'Brien, who in his 80s, won a state checkers championship and who challenged me to a game of checkers in the Globe newsroom.
I made the first move and then he moved. When I hesitated on my second move, he reached over, pushed one of my checkers forward and said, "there's your move."
Then, in rapid succession, he made his move, reached over and made my move and then repeated the process until the game was over in about a minute. Harold won. We both laughed.
- People like Earl Mason of Mason City, who likes to build stuff and who decided to save a little money by building his own casket in his basement. (It has not been put to use yet).
- People like the late Wayne Hult, who was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Eve 1944, and, in telling his story, made me promise I wouldn't make him out to be a hero.
- People like Arlo Stoltenburg, still teaching at NIACC after 50 years, because he still gets a thrill when he sees "the light bulb going on" in his students.
What a ride it has been all of these years. And as my full-time career ends and I focus on new adventures, another song lyric comes to mind with respect to the day-to-day grind of newspaper work:
"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em... "