press card

In about a week, I’ll turn in my press card.  After more than 30 years, my time as a working journalist will end.  I’m excited and scared, happy and sad, proud and humbled. I will miss it, but mostly how it once was, not what it has become.

I had worked at a small daily — the Fort Dodge (Iowa) Messenger —  for a little more than a year, so the Star Tribune was my second professional job. On Sept. 10, 1984, I arrived in the Minneapolis newsroom young, eager and scared. I was hired as a copy editor, one of the first hires after the traumatic merger of the Star and Tribune two years earlier.

We worked on Atex terminals and sized photos by hand with a cropping wheel.  (I still have mine, along with my pica pole, in my desk.) I would jump every time A1 editor Hal Sanders bellowed “COPY!!!” to summon a “copy boy” to carry or fetch something. We did layouts with paper and pencil and sent them via pneumatic tube to the composing room on the second floor. The cranky old printers would shake their heads at our stupidity if the pages didn’t work out quite right and call up on the “squawk boxes” to tell us what we did wrong.

Leo was the best ­– and crankiest – of them all. He’d find an error and give me that “you-are-so-young-and-stupid” look of his…We eventually arrived at mutual respect because I came to realize that those sharp-eyed printers saved me from embarrassing errors many times, and he came to realize that maybe I wasn’t so stupid after all.  However, one night he wore a camouflage T-shirt that had images of women’s bodies interspersed in the spots. I was offended and complained.  He was given a talking to and figured it was me who had gotten him into trouble.  After that, the relationship was awkward again for a while.

Around that time, I lost one of the closest friends I will ever have.  Teddy Sherwood was hired as a photo editor when I was regularly designing the Metro section.  Our desks were across from each other, and we were immediately friends. I couldn’t wait to talk with her, and we often chatted early in our shifts, before the hectic hours.  She would often edit the wire photos during this time.  Of course, in those days they arrived on paper, and she’d have stacks to sift through.  On the day of the Tiananmen Square massacre, she overlooked that famous photo of the man standing in front of the tanks.  The next day, we were one of the only papers in the country that didn’t use that picture, and she was beside herself, ready to submit her resignation.  I always felt I was to blame for that because I was probably rambling on about something as she was trying to work. Among other memories I have of Teddy is her excitement when she told me one day that she was going to get a Mac for her desk and be able to edit photos on it!  That didn’t happen before she died of ovarian cancer at age 40 in 1992. I still miss her and will move the photo of her that I have kept on my desk all these years to my new desk. I know that she is proud of me for having taken this leap.

There are so many historical events I helped tell readers about. Some that stand out in my mind:

• The 9/11 attacks, which brought many long, exhausting days. I bought the book of the New York Time’s victim profiles, but I have yet to open it. I wonder if I ever will.  Over those awful days, I looked at so many photos that were heartbreaking beyond description and read so many terrifying stories. I avoid the anniversary stories and photos. I remain traumatized.

Hurricane Katrina, another disaster that brought a cascade of sad and terrible pictures.

• The tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in southeast Asia in 2004. This happened on a Sunday, and I remember calling Roger Buoen, the manager in charge that day, and saying that this looked like a huge story and that we needed to go up pages and call in some help.  (This was before a manager always had to be in the building on weekends.)

• The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm.

• Eight presidential elections, from Reagan’s second term to Obama’s second term.

• The Northwest Airlines/ Delta merger.

• The death of Pope John Paul II.

• The giant earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed thousands and set the world on edge over the damaged nuclear plant.

And two that most personally touched me:

• The death of Sen. Paul Wellstone in an airplane crash. I clearly recall hearing the news while getting the kids ready for school.  After they got on the bus, I sat and cried for a long time.  Then I went to work.

• The school shootings at Red Lake that left 10 dead. This broke while I was already at work.  The TV near my desk reported the grim numbers, and my heart was breaking for these children and parents.  I was reacting as a parent first. Editor Anders Gyllenhaal was standing nearby watching, too, and heard me whisper, “Holy shit!”  He gave me the oddest look, which I never understood.  Was he feeling the same way or judging me for my lack of journalistic detachment?

And that right there is the hardest part of being a journalist:  Keeping that detachment amid the stress of deadlines and the sleepiness of the late-night hours. So many stories make me want to cry:  Abused and murdered children, senseless wars, devastating natural disasters that strike with no warning.  My heart aches.

And that is what I have tried to communicate to readers all these years.  Journalism is about the people, folks like us, whether they live in Japan, Red Lake or north Minneapolis. I wanted readers to see their faces, feel their losses or triumphs, understand, smile or cry.

And, even as I use a digital medium to share this, I will always believe that print is the best medium for telling these stories. An excellent photograph, a headline that makes it impossible to not stop to read a story, words you come back to read again because they are so well written … No digital medium can be as satisfying or challenging.  I’m among a dying breed.

I loved the Star Tribune. Working in a newsroom is exhilarating, frustrating, exhausting, intense. Crazy fun and crazy making. It’s demanding, and it takes a toll.

As I started cleaning out my desk, I came upon a note from my oldest son Drew. There was no date, but he was probably around fifth grade when he wrote it. It said, “Mom, I finished my 3D puzzle today. Putting on the flags was hard. Be sure you look at it. I didn’t see you today. I love you, Drew.”  He didn’t see me that day — and many other days — because even though I worked part time, there were many days our schedules didn’t overlap.

The price is no longer worth paying.  I’ve been working Friday, Saturday and many Sunday nights for a long time.  Now, as the empty nest is upon us, I didn’t want to be sitting home alone during the day with Jamie sitting home alone in the evenings. I want to be able to go on the spur of the moment for a weekend visit  with Drew in Madison or Griffin in South Bend, go to the next family celebration in Wisconsin without counting out my precious PTO days, see Joseffa at Blugold marching band performances.

So, a new path stretches out before me. I’ll be working as Stewardship and Development Associate at the Church of the Ascension in north Minneapolis, our home parish.  I’m not going to say I’m not scared:  What if I don’t like the new job? What if we can’t make it on the reduced income?  What if…  the list goes on.

But then I steady my nerves and know it will be OK.  Better than OK.

Some random pages I’ve done over the years:

0517.DY.BUS.ZSW.1.P.ME.0

0805.DY.MAIN.ZSW.3.P.ME.00403.DY.VAR.ZSW.1.P.ME.00705.DY.BUS.ZSW.1.P.ME.0smalltassels

This caper starts with a catch and ends with a fumble, but everyone wins.

Saturday morning, we were just starting the day when Jamie glanced out the kitchen window. Look at that across the street, he said, practically leaping with excitement. There was a giant turtle booking it across our neighbors’ lawn. At first, I thought it was an armadillo! It was moving quite fast.

I phoned Jodene and said, “Look out your front window.”

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We got dressed and went over to see him. He was big and reptilian. And dry. He was a long block away from the lake already and heading in the wrong direction. Jodene got the hose out and sprayed him down, which he seemed to like. He stretched his neck out and started moving toward the water.

By this time, the turtle had drawn quite the crowd. Big excitement for Beard Ave. N.

Someone called 911, and they dispatched an officer to help rescue the poor guy. The officer who responded, a young reservist, clearly wasn’t happy to have caught this call. He drove up with lots of confidence, but we all saw his expression change when he got a glimpse of the snapper. He got out and pulled on a pair of gloves. Did he think those would protect him? No, he said, they were just to give him confidence.

By this time, the turtle had decided that he didn’t like being the center of attention. He went over the foot-high retaining wall, landed face first on the driveway, shook it off and headed toward the safety of the van parked nearby. Bob got a wooden plank up to block his way.

The course of action was decided upon: Get the big guy on a snow shovel. Get him in the back of the police officer’s truck. Chauffeur him to the lake.

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Bob got one shovel wedged under the turtle, and fearless science teacher Barb quickly pushed the other shovel under to scoop him up. Bob then ran him over to the truck, and the cop closed the doors. Steps one and two complete!

Not wanting to miss the most exciting part, (How the heck were they ever going to get him OUT?) Joseffa and I got on our bikes and headed for the lake.

Bob, still armed with the snow shovel, climbed right into the truck bed. Neighbor Greg, barefoot, followed. Meanwhile the officer kept warning, Be careful! They are faster than they look! Greg, apparently not as fearless as Bob, abandoned the truck bed just before Bob got the turtle back on the shovel. He backed out, with turtle in tow, and jogged toward the water.

Then came the fumble! The big guy fell tail over shell to the ground, bounced and flipped into the water. He sat for just a heartbeat before swimming off to the safety of a nearby log and weed bed. Clearly, he had had enough of these crazy people.

As the officer closed up his truck, Greg asked, “So, where’s our next call?”

Here’s the video:

Mom making bread bears when the kids and I visited.

Joseffa and I were having coffee and a treat at the bakery Saturday morning when in came a grandpa with a young boy.  They both looked so happy, and it was plain to see this wasn’t their first outing. They helped themselves to samples and put their heads together to decide what to buy.

Mom with Joseffa on her First Communion day. Probably the last time she was able to visit us.

When I looked at Joseffa, we both had tears welling up.  She missed out on grandma and grandpa. In my family, she is the youngest child of the youngest child in a big family.  Dad was gone before any of my kids were born; he died of cancer in ’87. The boys remember mom, but Joseffa was still quite young as grandma’s health began failing.  Living in another state also didn’t help. Jamie’s mother died when he was a child, and our kids were never close to his dad for many complicated reasons, distance again being one.

Joseffa feels this hole in her life very acutely, especially when she hears her cousins talking about grandma and grandpa. I always think my siblings and I grew up in very different families, and this is yet another way it shows. Dad and mom spent a lot of time with the kids of my oldest sibs.  They went to school and sports events, babysat them, fished up at the cabin, gave them many hugs…

I’ve been thinking of mom frequently lately, missing her deeply.  She died in January ’09… has it really been four years?  I last saw her at Christmas. We visited her at St. Anne’s home and went to Christmas eve mass together. It was hard… she seemed gone already in so many ways.  Yet she sang the carols in a small weak voice; “Away in a Manger” always was a favorite.  We sang it together many times when I was a child.

Mom

Helen grew up on a farm in Butternut, Wis., the youngest of five kids. She loved playing with piglets and daddy long leg spiders, she told me. She loved her mother, Sophie, who worked very hard on the farm.  Her father, Andrew, was more distant. We visited the farm this summer, during a family reunion. It was dilapidated and overgrown.  It would have broken her heart to see it that way.  It made her seem that much more gone to me.

In town, they opened a new museum, and she and dad and other relatives were in the high school class photos on the wall. That was touching and sweet, but odd… my folks in a museum!

Mom and dad in their senior class photo in the museum

The farm house in 2012, falling down.

Helen and Chet were high school sweethearts.  They married after dad returned early from military service; his father was ill and he was needed on the farm. My oldest siblings were born on the farm before my folks sold it and moved to Racine, Wis., and later to Milwaukee.  The kids kept coming until there were seven.

Mom got a job at a dry cleaners when I was in early elementary school. She suffered from depression, and her doctor told her that working would help.  I was pretty young, but I think she enjoyed the job until the store was robbed for the first time.  And then again. We moved out of what was becoming an unsafe neighborhood, and she got a job as a bank teller, which she kept for many years.

Between her job and her many health issues (she had pretty severe asthma), much of my care was left to the sibs and dad.  My high school years were busy, with band, work, dating and other activities… I don’t really remember mom being a big part of them.

It was when I left for college that I became more aware of her.  It surprised me that she cried when they dropped me off there.  I guess I figured that after so many years of so many kids, an empty nest might suit her just fine.

My experiences as a mother have drawn me so much closer to her.  So often, I wish she were here so I could tell her.  I am reminded of her tears as I shed my own when leaving my boys at college.  When I worry about my kids when they face challenges in their lives, I recall her concern for me during difficult times in my life.  As I pray for strength, I see her on her knees at bedtime whispering prayers for all of her children and grandchildren. As I dry Joseffa’s tears of sadness at not having her grandma, I think about how much grandma would have loved to be here holding her herself.

The holiday season is hard because mom is everywhere… Her handmade ornaments are on the tree, her hand-written recipes on the counter.  I am so very thankful for these things.  But the grief can still be so raw at times.

Snow is falling as I write this, and it’s turning colder.  I’m making peace with the sadness that is a part of the holidays for me. I miss my mom terribly, both for myself and for Joseffa, but I can’t pretend away that hole in my heart.  It just is.  We’ll finish decorating the tree today, and I really must decide which cookies I will make this year.  Griffin and Drew will be home soon, and it will be peaceful and hectic and good. I hope mom is looking down upon us and knows how much she is missed — and loved.

Mom and me on my first Christmas

It was just going to be one of those days.  I’d had a fitful night’s sleep; when the alarm buzzed at 5:15, I’d clocked probably four hours.  I peeled back the covers and grumpily wondered why Joseffa had to do jazz band this year.  (They practice at 6:15 a.m. on Fridays, which meant the very early wake-up call.)

I heard the shower turn on as I started the coffee.  Got her lunch made, set out cereal and sat down for our breakfast chat.  Working many nights, I always get up to see her off to school so we are sure to connect at least once a day.  It might be the only time I see her in a day.  This morning there wasn’t much connection.  She was focused on leaving in time to pick up her friend Ellie.  I was focused on getting back to bed.  I asked if she were excited for her marching band concert that evening, and she said she just wanted to make it though the school day so SHE could come home and nap.  Fair enough.

I was back under the covers before the door shut completely. I dozed for a bit but soon heard Jamie in the shower.  I might as well get up before the coffee went cold. I was gonna need it.

Gratuitous cute Cesar photo

By 10:30 a.m., email had been checked, Scrabble moves played, Cesar had been walked, pumpkin bread was in the oven. I still had to run out to pick up a donation for the senior party. I needed to clean the bathroom, and two baskets of dirty laundry sat at the top of the steps awaiting sorting, washing and folding.  My anxiety was cranking, and a black cloud was over my head.

I laced up my workout shoes and headed to the Y.  Warm up, weights, half an hour on the elliptical… Ahh.  I headed up to the locker room.  An older woman in front of me dropped her Y card, so I picked it up and handed it to her. “Thank you, sir,” she said.  The tiny bit of cheer I had built up on the exercise machines evaporated on the spot.  “I’m not a ‘sir,’” I said icily.

Andy Braford

Judy

(An aside:  I get mistaken for a man fairly frequently. Once, in a two-week period, three of my coworkers came into my cubicle and called me Andy, who is in the cubicle next to me.  We both have short spiky hair, but I’d like to think the resemblance ends there. I’m sure Andy would, too! Yes, I have short hair; Yes, I am rather large; no, I don’t wear makeup.  But really, people, … take a good look at others before you categorize them.)

As I left the Y, that black cloud was still hanging around but now it was threatening to rain. Next up:  Get that party donation.

Cowboy Jack’s in Plymouth pleasantly surprised me:  Two shirts, two gift cards and a nice reusable bag.  I was thankful for their generosity and headed home.

I ate a quick late lunch, thinking of what I could still get done before heading out to the dinner fundraiser for the senior party and the concert fundraiser for the marching band.  When Joseffa came home, I was surprised it was already that late.  She didn’t really want to nap, but there was this estate sale she saw on her way home.  Could we go?  The laundry baskets tried to trip me on my way out, but I avoided them.

When Joseffa eventually did decide to rest for a bit, the phone rang. Now what?

The manager from Honest-1 Auto Care wanted to make a donation for the senior party.  I answered his questions and was floored when he said he was going to give us some gift certificates and cut a check.  A $500 check.  His generosity nearly brought me to tears.

We ate dinner surrounded by excited, energetic teenagers and headed to the concert, a fundraiser for the Cooper High School marching band’s uniform fund. It was fun visiting with my cousins, who had come to support Joseffa and the cause.

The concert was nothing short of amazing. So many talented people donating their time: Don Shelby was the emcee.  The Shady Oak Groove Society; the WCCO Blues Band (who knew Shelby could sing like that?);  Phil Solem from the Rembrants, and most importantly Joey Molland, a member of the group Badfinger, who had somehow heard the band was playing a Beatles show and trying to raise money.  He volunteered to work with the band and play this benefit.  I was entertained, surprised and relaxed by the talent they all shared and humbled by the generosity all around me.

Later, after a post-concert drink with good friends, I thought about the day. Jamie had carried the baskets to the laundry room and started the wash. The bathroom still needs cleaning, but I’ll get to it eventually. There are a lot of wonderfully giving people out there, and their generosity renewed my faith in the goodness of humanity.  I give generously of my time and talents, but I don’t have to do it all by myself.

That morning, I had taken care of the daughter, the dog, the donations and the dishes but hadn’t taken care of myself. And that is as important as any other thing I had to do during the day.

the bay

 

Got to spend nine days at the cabin this summer — nine days! That’s the longest we’ve been up there since Drew started school, and I don’t mean college.  Nine days of sitting, feet up, book on lap, lake a few yards away.  Drew was even able to join us for three days, so the family was all together, a rare occurrence these days.

1972 — We used to feed the raccoons at the cabin. They seemed pretty tame, but now when I look at this, I can't believe we did that!

I’ve been vacationing at these cabins in Three Lakes, Wis., for more than 40 years.  My parents started taking us up there when I was around 10. At that time, the property was owned by a woman my brother Jim knew from work.  There are three: the island, literally on an island with a man-made “road” leading there; the middle, where we always stay, is more in the woods and on a weedy bay; and the small, right next to the middle.

Mom, me, Dolores and Angie, 1974?

Every July, my parents and the youngest of us kids would pack up and head for a week in the north woods. Mom would get stuck cleaning fish and cooking.  Dad and Gary fished and puttered.  Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I did while we were there, except for the time I went exploring in the woods on a logging trail. I came upon a large buck, and while I’m not sure which of us was more startled, I would be willing to bet it was me.

Eventually Jim bought the cabins; the owners had no children of their own. He’s done extensive remodeling of the island cabin, but “ours” has stayed pretty much the same as it always has been.  As we settled in for this year’s stay, Griffin said, “That’s the great thing about the cabin:  Things here never change.”  In many ways, he’s right.

There’s my favorite green ceramic coffee mug, slightly off kilter but comforting to hold.  There are the bullfrogs croaking, the woodshed, the clotheslines with their giant blue clothespins.

There are the daily morning walks on Hwy. X.   If you go to the right, it’s a mile and a half to the “owl sign,” named by my dad many years ago because its shape at that time was somewhat owl-like if you squinted and used your imagination. This is the lazy-day walk with fewer hills and more cabins to look at.  To the left, it’s a mile and a half to Honeyrock Camp.  More hills.  More curves.  More likely to see deer.  Either way you go, you must touch the sign or the rock before turning back.  Even Cesar knows it now, although sometimes he cheats and lifts a leg instead.

Jamie and I always play a ridiculous game as we walk, trying to be the first to call out when we hear a vehicle approaching and getting points for correctly discerning whether it is a car or truck before it becomes visible. I’m pretty sure I’m winning.

When you are walking from the island to the middle at night, you turn off the lantern and look up at the bowl of amazing stars overhead.  The Big Dipper is a given… the others?  I’ve never taken the time to learn them, but they take my breath away every time.

And the incredible north woods scent!  After five hours in the van, I can’t wait to take that first big inhale of the fresh air, laced with pine, cedar and lake.  Heaven.

Reading

reading

and more reading

But time is lapping at the shore, and our lives are inevitably changing.

I was conscious the entire time we were there that our family is at a crossroads.  In a year, nothing will be as it is now.  Drew will have graduated from college and be working who knows where.  Joseffa will have graduated from high school and be planning her move into a dorm who knows where. (Eau Claire? Oshkosh? Indiana?)  Having done manual labor all summer, Griffin is going to try his darnedest not to have to do that again!  Who knows where he will spend next summer.  Change everywhere.  I kept thinking:  We will never have this time again.  Oh, we’ll probably all be together there again many times. But it won’t be when Drew is still in school; or for Joseffa’s 18th birthday, which we celebrated there on Friday; or when Griffin is still kid enough to get out his slingshot and fire pebbles into the lake.

But life goes on.  This year, my nephew Andy was telling his three-year-old daughter Maddy to be careful around the bonfire.  Years ago, it was my brother telling Andy and his sisters the same thing.  And then us telling our kids.  Someday, I hope, it will be our children saying the same thing to theirs.

Maybe Griffin was right after all:  Things don’t change at the cabin.  At least not the important things:  It will always be a place for family coming together no matter where we are in life.

Joseffa and Maddy

Brothers: Drew, Griff and Cesar

Three pretty wonderful kids

 

Sunset from the island deck

We have new neighbors!  Or we did for a while; they may have moved on already after just a couple of weeks.

A house three doors down from us has been vacant for more than two years. There was quite an extensive electrical fire. While the house didn’t burn down, it is uninhabitable. The family that lived there got an insurance settlement and moved out to Maple Grove, and the house has sat forlornly with blue tarp on the roof, boarded up garage doors and weeds taking over the lawn.   But it has a brand new den — of foxes.  Near as we can tell, there are a pair of adults and three young ones.

We have enjoyed seeing them.  It’s been fun to watch the little ones roll around with each other and zip through our yards.  The adults skulk around more cautiously, popping up here and there, prancing down the street victoriously with a bird or squirrel in their mouths.

Cesar is not at all happy with these critters in his territory, which he considers to be not only our yard but all the area he can see from our upper-level back windows, which is considerable.  The foxes, sly as they are, figured out quickly that the leash only goes so far.  Barking hysterically, Cesar will strain to chase them while they sit calmly in the next yard answering his ruckus with polite squeaky yaps.  Now if we merely mention the F-O-X, Cesar races to the closest window for a quick check.  At least Cesar could hold his own if he ever did meet up with one of them. One of our neighbors has a chihuahua, and they are very wary.

There’s a downside for us, too: The dinner leftovers we find strewn across the gardens and grass.  The tally so far:  two squirrel tails, woodpecker feathers, and a female duck carcass. No bunnies; I haven’t seen one in our yard in ages.  I like to think they all moved to safer ground but …

Now it seems the foxes may have moved on. They used to be out every morning and evening, but I haven’t seen them for a couple of days. It would be difficult for one small urban area to sustain five foxes, I know; and the babies were getting quite big.  I’ll miss the fun of spying them, but one of the wonderful things about living literally on top of a park is that there is always something new to see: pileated woodpeckers, hawks, eagles, geese, ducks, squirrels, seagulls … not to mention interesting humans.  It all makes daily life just a little more fun.

Me, during my internship summer at the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, with a friend who was from England and spending the summer here.

 

Griffin and Drew started their summer jobs today: Griffin is working for a landscaping company, so he can expect 40+ hours of mind-numbing physical work each week. Drew landed a software engineering internship at Liberty Mutual Insurance, so he can expect 40 hours of challenging brain work. I’m eager to hear later today how they fared. First weeks are never easy.

My own summer jobs fell into both categories: mind-numbing and challenging. And another category: just plain weird.

The summer after I graduated from high school, I worked second shift at Holiday Cups, a factory that made paper cups. My job was in the packing department, where for eight hours, from 3 to 11:30 p.m. five nights a week, I would count cups, place them into plastic sleeves, tuck the sleeves into boxes, tape the boxes and send them along a conveyor belt to shipping. Like I said: mind-numbing. And this was before iPods. We didn’t have to count them by hand. We used wheeled instruments, like pizza cutters with notches, that we ran along the cup rims. Once we got an accurate stack, we would make marks on the table and just measure them that way. We kept track of how many boxes we completed, and I began to challenge myself to beat my records each night. My productivity was rewarded with more responsibility: I was trained on the handle machine, which glued those little paper two-holed handles to cups used for hot beverages. The machine was in a different part of the factory, isolated from other workers. The operator’s main job was to watch to make sure the handles went on straight and the proper amount of glue was applied. It was not only boring but lonely.

The next summer I signed on with a temp agency and was put in a long-term job at a factory called Vaporized Coatings. Here they took plastic items such as curtain rings, drapery rods and planters, and sprayed them with metallic paints. My job was to clip these items to metal rods, which then went on to racks. The racks went into the spraying chambers. Once they were coated, we would remove the items, inspect them to make sure they were flawless and package them. I didn’t think it was possible to find a job worse than the cup factory, but this was it. I would come home with gold and silver specks everywhere: in my hair, mouth, shoes, underwear. And probably in my lungs, although I didn’t think of that until years later.

By the following summer, I had wised up. I resolved to get an internship and to use my brain rather than turn it off. Delevan, Wis., was my home for those three months. I worked for the Janesville Gazette’s bureau there, writing for the weekly they published with news of that area. I traveled the country roads in my little orange VW Bug and bunked with some college friends in a small flat. I have only a few odd memories from that summer: A photo assignment I had to shoot of a red-headed kid with a giant slice of watermelon for the cover of the tab, one of the first color photos I ever took for publication. My boss Jon, who kept his keys on a lanyard and would swing them all the time. Going to happy hour with my coworkers on my last day of work and trying to remain lucid while one of the older guys tried to have a serious conversation with me. But I do remember being deliriously happy to be doing journalism instead of anything else.

My Dow Jones intern class, at the end of our training in Columbia, Mo. I am second from right, in the yellow raincoat.

That internship no doubt helped me to get a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund editing internship the following summer. I was placed at the Minneapolis Star, which ceased publication between the time I was assigned there and the start of the internship. Luckily, the newly merged Minneapolis Star and Tribune still had a place for me. That was thirty years ago.

Last week, I spent an evening training one of our summer interns. He is a bright kid, excited about journalism and eager to learn. It was fun and interesting to watch him work. He is the same age as Drew.

Joseffa and I went to Wausau, Wis., this past weekend to help Drew move in to his little summer home. He seemed on edge and cranky, and I had to remind myself what it was like to move to a completely unfamiliar place not knowing anybody. It’s not easy, but that is part of the learning that comes along with the internship. You have to get out of the comfort zone, reach out to others, make friends, take advantage of all the new opportunities. Calm that part of you that longs for the familiarity of school, friends and family. It really is a sort of summer school, teaching the lessons of life.

I hope that Drew finds mentors who appreciate his youth and enthusiasm this summer and that he can someday see the bigger picture of how these summers were important milestones on his life’s journey.

As for Griffin, this is his first full-time job, so he will learn all the lessons that go along with that: How to work in the adult world, communicate with peers and bosses, AND respect others for the work they do and their life choices. I hope he understands that there is much to be learned from each person he meets.

Too soon, the summer will be over.  The boys will head back to school and pick up where they left off this spring. I hope the skills they learned during this break make things just a little easier and they go back feeling just a little more wise about life.

Exploring the city... I think this was near Minnehaha Falls.