Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

Making the right choice

June 4, 2009

Everyone has a point in their lives when critical decisions need to be made. It is a time when making the right choice will change lives forever.

Certainly there are many facing such challenges today. High school graduates are seeking the right college or career path. College graduates are hoping to find a job that is both financially and emotionally rewarding. Sometimes the entire future hinges on a single decision.

Looking back, a half century ago I faced the most critical and challenging week of my life. It was a hectic time with lots of changes taking shape. The week of May 31-June 7, 1959, changed my life forever.

After graduation I had always expected to work as a reporter for the Ottawa Herald. I had been with the newspaper through college and by the final semester of my senior year I was working nearly full time. I had no intention of looking elsewhere until we had a $10 difference of opinion. I wanted to make $75 per week and they offered $65.

I don’t really think the management of the Ottawa Herald ever thought I’d look for another job, but I did. Since I had earned a teaching certificate, I decided to get serious about going into education.

I interviewed at several schools and got an offer to teach English, speech, journalism and sponsor the yearbook and newspaper. In addition, I coached freshman football and basketball. The starting salary was $4,400, which was well above what I could make in journalism.

While I was looking forward to a career in teaching, fate intervened. Jean and I were getting married June 7 in McPherson and I didn’t have a summer job. Her oldest brother, Jack, called to tell me the McPherson Daily Republican (now Sentinel) had called him about a summer job selling subscriptions in surrounding communities. Since Jack already had a good summer job at an implement dealership, he suggested they call me.

After a quick interview, I was hired.

College graduation was on Sunday, May 31, and I moved my meager belongings to a second floor apartment in McPherson. On Tuesday, I started to work for the newspaper and began planning circulation campaigns. While I had never sold anything in my life, I convinced myself the newspaper was a good product and should be in every home. I soon mastered the art of selling.

A new job wasn’t the only big change in my life. The biggest, most important and certainly wonderful change was to come on June 7, when Jean and I were married at First Christian Church of McPherson. Ours was a traditional wedding for that time. A ceremony in church followed by a cake and punch reception in the basement. We didn’t go on a huge honeymoon to the Caribbean or such an exotic locale. I had two days off work, without pay I believe, and we came to Kansas City.

It was a hectic week full of change, but it probably set the standard for the many other challenging weeks we have faced during the past half century. I had a successful summer at the newspaper and they offered me a chance to come back permanently. We moved to Council Grove, which was the first of many moves in our lives, and I also enjoyed teaching school. The following year the lure of the newspaper business was too strong and we were on the long, winding path of life that led us to Bonner Springs.

The most important and wonderful thing that happened to me in the first week of June was getting married. Jean and I are celebrating 50 years of marriage and it has been a wonderful and exciting life. We had three wonderful daughters and, now, seven grandchildren. I can’t imagine that anyone could have had a more enjoyable life than I have had and it all started with the most hectic and worthwhile week in my life.

I sincerely hope that those of you who are facing life-changing decisions have the same good fortune that I did and can look back with the joy that I have a half century later.

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