I like to think my journalism career started in January 1960 when I was 11 years old.
On one of the first days back from Christmas break, my sixth-grade teacher outlined what we would be doing for the rest of the school year. That's when she announced that, as an end-of-year project, everybody had to write a two-page research paper.
That wasn't a surprise to me, but hearing those words straight from her mouth sent shivers down my spine. Who could be expected to gather enough information to write two pages about anything? I decided the answer was to start early, so I began in February.
It didn't take long for me to realize something: Finding out where to get information, how to follow the facts from one to the other, seeing how they branched out and then came back to connect into a coherent story wasn't a nightmare. It was fun.
I turned in a five-page report. I don't recall the grade I got, but I do remember the satisfaction I felt when I was done writing, easily meeting what turned out to be the first of too-many-to-count deadlines in my career field.
I started thinking that summer about the kind of job where I could make a living looking for information. It didn't take long before "news reporter" popped to the top of the list. It seemed a good fit and, from that point on, that's what I wanted to be. I found my passion in that sixth- grade report. And between that summer of 1960 and today, nothing ever came along to make me think I made a mistake when I decided to become a journalist.
The lure for me has always been the facts, the reporting, finding out what's going on. Some people call that being nosy. I prefer to think of it as curiosity.
In the spirit of not leaving questions unanswered, here are two points to consider:
1. The headline on this story references the number "30." When I was writing stories on an Underwood desk-model typewriter early in my career, reporters ended their copy this way: -- 30 --. It was a signal to the copy desk and the Linotype operators that that was the end of the story, there was no more to come. Just one of the practical traditions of the business now lost to modern journalists in the era of computers and blogs.
2. I wrote that sixth-grade report exploring the question of who was the founder of baseball. I concluded, unequivocally, that it was Abner Doubleday, a popular idea back then but now discredited by historians. That probably knocks down my grade, whatever it was.
This is my last column for the Standard-Examiner. I am retiring as of next Friday, April 5.
In farewell pieces like this, it's customary to thank people for their help and guidance over the years. And there are many to thank -- bosses, colleagues and friends, in and out of the business.
But foremost I owe thanks to my wife, Ann, and sons, Jeff and Dan. They have put up with short-notice, long-distance moves -- twice during the Christmas holidays -- long hours at the office on a good day let alone the bad ones, late-night and early-morning telephone calls, weekends and holidays at work, all without complaint. Guys, I couldn't have done it without you.
There are times when I feel every minute and the pressure of every deadline of the years I spent in this business. But much more frequent are the days when I think, "Wait -- it's over? Didn't it just start?"
Here's what I know: Even with all the challenges and uncertainty that print media face today, if I could travel back to the classroom on that long-ago January day where the anxious sixth-grader fretted about how he was going to complete a two-page research paper, I'd whisper in his ear, "Relax -- you're at the start of a wonderful adventure. Enjoy the ride because it's going to be great."
And it was. I have enjoyed it immensely.
Thank you, Standard-Examiner readers, for allowing me in your homes through these columns over the past 10 years. It's been a privilege.
And that, for one last time, is -- 30 --.
Dave Greiling spent more than 40 years as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers in Illinois, Michigan, Colorado and Utah. And yes, if he had the chance to do it all again, he would.