January 23, 1998.  An almost perfect Friday. (#161)

In the winter of 1998, I began every school day with my internship in Mr. Gibson’s class at Jeromeville High School.  I was starting to feel like I was learning more about what not to do when I was a teacher someday.  Jeromeville was a university town, the locals placed a high value on education, and parents often bought their students fancy, expensive graphing calculators for math class.  The predominant model at the time was the Texas Instruments TI-82.  In those days, the Internet was emerging as a mainstream technology, and the kids all knew either how to download games onto their graphing calculators or copy games from their friends’ calculators.  Mr. Gibson’s teaching style was lecture-based and kind of dry, and half the class was tuned out, playing games on their calculators.  That just made me sad.  I thought about telling this to Mr. Gibson, but as a 21-year-old undergraduate intern, I did not feel right questioning a veteran teacher on his teaching style.

 As I was leaving, I passed by Jeromeville High students on their way from first to second period.  I saw a familiar slim brown-haired girl with glasses approaching; she was a senior named Sasha Travis, and she and her family went to my church.  I usually saw her in passing as I was leaving the high school after Mr. Gibson’s class, and I knew her well enough to wave and say hi.

“Hey, Greg!” Sasha exclaimed.  “How are you?”

“Pretty good.  Glad it’s Friday.”

“Me too!  Have a good weekend!”

“Thanks!  You too!”

I went straight to the university campus after I left Jeromeville High, as I always did.  I parked my bike near the Memorial Union and walked inside.  With almost an hour before my next class, I had time for one of my favorite daily rituals: reading the school newspaper, the Daily Colt.  At some point in my childhood, I started reading the local newspaper regularly every day, and I have done that ever since.  Jeromeville has a local newspaper, but my roommates subscribed to the nearby big-city newspaper, the Capital City Record, before I had any input into the issue, so these days I read the Record every morning before I leave the house.  That was how I got most of my news on the major issues of the day.  Then at some point during a break between classes, I would read the Daily Colt to get campus and local Jeromeville news.

I did not always read every story; I skimmed or outright ignored the ones that were less interesting.  I saw a story buried on page five about some plant pathology professor who had won some award, which I was about to skip until I noticed the by-line under the headline: “BY SADIE ROWLAND, COLT CAMPUS WRITER.”  Sadie was my friend, so I always read her articles.  I might see her tonight at Jeromeville Christian Fellowship, and if I told her I read her article, maybe she would like that.  It would give me something to say to her, at least.

After I read Sadie’s article, I found Joseph Tomlinson‘s weekly column. The Daily Colt was published Monday through Friday, and each of the five days of the week featured a different student columnist.  Typically two of them wrote about political issues, one from a liberal perspective and one from a conservative perspective, and the other three just wrote about their lives as students at the University of Jeromeville.  Joseph Tomlinson was in his second year of being the conservative columnist, and his column this week was on Jeromeville’s obsession with “small-town feel.”

The Jeromeville City Council had a distinct anti-corporate bias in those days, which is still the case today.  A running joke among Jeromevillians was that one cannot buy underwear in Jeromeville.  The local leaders believed that large chain department stores did not belong in a small town like Jeromeville.  While I saw the value in supporting small, locally owned businesses, I was hesitant to support government interference in the free market.  Also, this position was built on false pretenses to begin with, because whatever it was once, Jeromeville was not a small town anymore.  Sixty thousand people lived in the city limits, and another eight thousand lived on campus just outside the city limits.  And with no clothing stores in Jeromeville, people had to drive eight miles north to Woodville or twenty miles east to Capital City to shop, putting more pollution in the air.  The chain stores all went to Woodville instead, even though Woodville had only three-fourths the population of Jeromeville.

Recently, the corporate chains won a rare victory in Jeromeville with the opening of Borders Books.  This upset many people, but a bookstore was classy enough that it did not anger Jeromevillians as much as something like Walmart would have.  Joseph Tomlinson pointed out in his column that one of the City Council members owned a bookstore, so he should have recused himself from votes related to Borders because of a conflict of interest.  I agreed.  “Vote no on Small Town Feel,” Tomlinson concluded.  “Small Town Feel violates the American concept of freedom.”  I always do, Mr. Tomlinson.  I always do.

On Friday nights, I attended the large group meetings of Jeromeville Christian Fellowship, back on campus.  When I arrived that night, I found an empty seat and sat down.  A guy with bushy blond hair wearing a collared shirt, slacks, and a flat gray driver cap sat next to me a few minutes later.  I had seen this guy around JCF before; he always stood out to me because he was more well-dressed than the typical university student, and because he wore cool hats.  “Hey,” I said as he sat down.  His name tag said “Jed.”

“Hi,” Jed replied.  “What’s up?”

“Not much.  Just glad it’s the weekend.”

“I know!  What was your name again?”

“Greg,” I said.  Then I pointed to his name tag and asked, “Jed?  I know I’ve seen you around before.”

“Yeah.  Jed.  It’s nice to meet you.” Jed shook my hand.  “What year are you?”

“I’m a senior.  You?”


“They’re starting, so we should probably be quiet,” I said in a loud whisper as I heard the worship team start playing. “But It was nice to meet you.”

“You too!” Jed replied.

As I stood and sang along to the music, I turned around and saw that, while I had been talking to Jed, Sadie Rowland had arrived, sitting in the row behind me.  I smiled and waved, and she waved back.

An hour and a half later, after the talk and more worship music, I still had no plans for afterward.  I was about to ask Jed if he was doing anything, but he spoke first.  “I need to get going,” he said.  “I’ll see you next week?”

“Sure,” I replied.  “Have a good weekend!”

I turned around, hoping that Sadie was still sitting behind me; she was.  “Hey,” I said.

“Hi, Greg!  How are you?” Sadie asked.

“Good.  Just been busy with school.  How are you?”

“Same.  I had a paper due today.  I finished it at the last minute.”

“You finished it.  That’s what’s important.”


“Hey.  I saw your article in the Daily Colt today, about that professor who won the award.  It was good.”

“Thanks!” Sadie replied.  “It was interesting researching and writing that story, but I’m hoping to get moved to local politics next year.  That’s really what I want to write.”

“I know.  They need a conservative voice on the Colt, even though they probably don’t want one.”

“Yeah, really.”

“I guess they have Joseph Tomlinson, but he’s just a columnist, not a reporter.”

“Joseph Tomlinson is great!”

“Yes!” I agreed.  “He’s hilarious, and insightful too.  I loved his column today on Small Town Feel.  Jeromeville can be pretty ridiculous.”

“I know!  You’ve been here two years longer than I have, so I’m sure you’ve seen more of the Jeromeville ridiculousness.”

“Definitely.  Like the ‘historic’ muddy alleys where mosquitoes breed, but they won’t pave them because of the neighborhood’s historic character.”

“Wow,” Sadie said, rolling her eyes.

“And you know about the frog tunnel, right?”

“Yeah.  That’s so weird.”

“I know.  One City Councilmember was quoted as saying she wanted to build connections to the frog community.”

“Like the frogs have any idea what’s going on,” Sadie added.  “But, yeah, the media is so biased.  The newspaper back home keeps calling our house trying to get us to subscribe, and my dad is like, ‘Stop calling me.  I don’t want to read your Commie trash.’”

I laughed.  “That’s a good one.  I should try something like that next time someone calls me trying to sell me something.”

“That would be funny.”

“Yeah.  So how was your week?  What else did you do?”

“We had Bible study yesterday.”

“Nice,” I said.  “My Bible study is huge.  We do a few worship songs together, then we split into three groups to do the actual study part.  We come back together for prayer requests at the end.”

“Which one is that?  Who are the leaders?”

“Joe Fox and Lydia Tyler.”

“How big is huge?”

“We average probably between twenty and twenty-five each week.”

“Twenty-five!  That’s too big for a study group like this.  Why is it so big?”

“It’s exactly what I said was going to happen. JCF has moved so much toward groups for specific populations.  You’re in a Kairos group, right?”


“Those are handpicked by their leaders, and people like me never get included. And there’s the group for transfer students, and the group for student athletes, and the two groups just for women.  All of us who don’t fit those categories only had one group left to choose from, so that group ended up huge.”

“I don’t think the Kairos ministry is supposed to be about excluding people, but I get what you’re saying,” Sadie observed.

“I’m concerned with the direction JCF is going.  There’s also a group specifically for Filipinos, and I’ve heard someone say that next year they want to make more groups specifically for people from certain cultural backgrounds.  How is that not racist?  Aren’t we supposed to treat each other equally and not be segregated by race?”

“That’s messed up.”

“I know.  Paul said in Galatians that there is no Jew nor Greek, for all are one in Christ Jesus.”

“Exactly!  Maybe you should tell Dave or Janet or one of the leaders your concerns.”

“I have.  Didn’t do any good.”

“That’s too bad.  What are you guys studying?”

I told Sadie that we were going through Romans, and I tried to remember specifically what insights I had that I could share with her.  She told me about her Kairos group and everything that they had learned.  Her group seemed to have the same kind of studies as other groups, but with a specific focus toward preparing student leaders, which was the stated mission of the Kairos ministry.

“You have any exciting plans coming up?” Sadie asked me a bit later.

“Not this weekend.  But in a few weeks, I’m taking the basic skills test I need to get into the teacher training program.  And then I’m going straight from there to meet up with the kids from church at Winter Camp.  I’ll be joining them a day late.”

“Winter Camp sounds fun!  What is this test?”

“It’s required for anyone wanting to be a teacher, or a substitute, or anything like that.  It looks like it’ll be pretty easy.  It’s just meant to show that you have the equivalent of a ninth grade education.”

“Really?  Only ninth grade?”

“Yes.  And a lot of people are complaining that teachers shouldn’t have to take the test.  They say it excludes people who would otherwise be good teachers.”

“How?  How can you be a good teacher without a ninth grade education?”

“I know!  They say it’s racially biased.”

“Of course.  Everything is racially biased these days.”

“If I had kids,” I said, “I wouldn’t care what color skin their teacher had, but I certainly would insist on a teacher who could do ninth grade reading and math.  If you’re a teacher, you need to understand more than just the material you’re teaching.”

“And that’s why you’re gonna be a great teacher.”

“Aww,” I smiled.  “Thank you.”

“We definitely need good teachers.  A lot of my teachers in high school were ready to retire and just there for the paycheck.  And, of course, I had a history teacher who was really liberal.  He and I used to get into arguments all the time.”

“That would have been fun to watch.  I wish I had been in your class to see that.”

Sadie laughed.  “I could have used your support.  I did have one other friend who used to jump into those arguments and take my side.”

“That’s good.  I had a friend kind of like that in history class, but he usually started the argument with our teacher, and I’d join in.  He was kind of annoying, but we had a lot of classes together, and I liked having a conservative friend.”

“Annoying how?”

I told Sadie about Jason Lambert and how he could be kind of loud and argumentative, and also about the time he asked out the girl that I wished I had the guts to ask out.  But I also told her some good things about Jason, like the project we did in Spanish class where I was a bully taking his lunch money.  Jason’s character used a magical growth drink called La Leche de Crecer, at which point we paused the recording and replaced Jason with a six-foot-seven football player, who proceeded to take revenge on my bully character.  Sadie told me about some of her more memorable high school friends, and some of the parties she had gone to with them.  She had a bit more active social life than I did in high school, apparently.

“Hey, did I tell you I’m going to Washington, D.C. for the spring and summer?” Sadie asked after the conversation about high school reached a lull. 

“I don’t think so.  What’s this for?”

“An internship with my Congressman from back home.”

“That’s great!”

“Yeah!  I’ve met him a few times.  My dad volunteered for his campaign.”

“That’ll be good experience for you.  When do you leave?”

“April.  I’ll go home for spring break, then stay there for two weeks, then I’ll be gone until the middle of September.  I’m going on planned leave for spring quarter.”

“That’s exciting!  I’ll miss seeing you around spring quarter.”

“I know!  I’ll miss everyone here.  And I’ll miss Outreach Camp.  I had so much fun there this year.”

“I know.  I have to miss Outreach Camp too, because I will have started student teaching by then.  The school where I’m teaching will start earlier than UJ.”

“Do you know where you’ll be student teaching yet?”

“No, but probably not Jeromeville High.  The professor who runs it says the student population in Jeromeville doesn’t reflect what we’ll see in the average teaching position around here.  Jeromeville families tend to be wealthier and more educated.”

“That makes sense,” Sadie observed.

“Greg, Sadie, time to go, you two,” I heard Tabitha Sasaki’s voice call out from across the room.  I looked up, confused.  The room was empty, except for me and Sadie, and Tabitha, who was carrying the last of the worship band’s equipment toward the door.  I looked at my watch.  Sadie and I had been talking for over an hour, long enough for all of the hundred or so others to go home and the staff and student leaders to put everything away and clean up the room.  And I had not noticed any of this.

“I guess we have to go now,” Sadie said.  “I should get home and go to bed anyway.”

“Did you drive here?  Where’d you park?”

“I’m over in the lot by Marks.”

“I’ll walk you to your car,” I said.  I grabbed my Bible, Sadie grabbed hers, and we walked out into the dark but clear night, with no moon and only a few stars visible beyond the streetlights lighting the path we walked.  “You said you just turned in a paper?  Does that mean this will be a relaxing weekend?”

“Unfortunately, no.  I have a midterm Monday.”

“That sucks.  But good luck.”


We had arrived at Sadie’s car by that point.  “It was nice talking to you,” I said.

“You too!  I’ll see you around.”


“Good night, Greg.”

“Good night.”

I walked toward my car, but before I unlocked my car, I watched Sadie drive off.  I got in the car and began the trip home a minute later.

If I could live my university years again, knowing what I know now about life as an adult, I would take more chances.  I would not have wasted this opportunity, getting thoroughly lost in conversation with a cute girl, and walking her to her car, only to watch her drive off without attempting to make some kind of future plans.  I did not know exactly what to do; I was always just trying to be a good Christian and be friends first and not rush into dating.  But this did not work for me, because I did not know what to do once I was friends with a girl.  As a student, I was surrounded by others in more or less the same stage of life as me.  I did not come to realize until my thirties that life would never be like that again.  As I write this in my mid-forties, I have grown apart from many of my friends, and I have found it difficult to meet people and  make new friends.  If I had been able to see the future on that winter day in 1998, if I had known the directions that mine and Sadie’s lives would take, I would have done everything imaginable not to let her just drive away that night.  Things might not have worked out between us, but at least I would have known that I tried my best.

Readers: Tell me in the comments about a night you wish could have ended differently.

I updated the Dramatis Personae. Some of the entries were badly out of date. And Sadie didn’t even have an entry; she was just listed, with no last name, under “Others from JCF.” If anyone is looking for hints of what will happen in the rest of Year 4, it is noteworthy that two characters who were just briefly introduced in this episode now have their own entries already…

If you like what you read, don’t forget to like this post and follow this blog. Also follow Don’t Let The Days Go By on Facebook and Instagram.


Mid-April 1995. Reading the newspaper. (#34)

When I was a kid, local newspapers would hire preteens on bikes to deliver newspapers in their neighborhoods.  Paperboys and papergirls would get a big stack of newspapers delivered to their house, and they would ride around the neighborhood with big bags attached to their bikes, tossing the newspapers to the porches of their subscribers.  Once a month, the kids would walk around the neighborhood collecting the monthly subscription fees from their subscribers. The newspaper office would then charge them for all the newspapers they delivered, at a bulk rate discount, and the paperboys and papergirls would pocket the difference.  A paperboy was a common enough sight in a neighborhood that there was even a video game called Paperboy, where the player had to shoot newspapers from a bike into mailboxes while dodging obstacles.

In 1988, I was one of those paperboys.  For nine months, I rode my bike around the neighborhood six days a week delivering newspapers to around 60 customers, and I’d get to keep around $150 every month, which was a lot of money to a kid in 1988.  Fortunately for me, this was when we lived in an old and flat neighborhood in Gabilan, shortly before we moved out of town into the hills of Plumdale. Also fortunately for me, the Gabilan News was an afternoon newspaper at the time, so I could do this after school, instead of having to get up at 5 every morning as I would if the News had been a morning paper.

That experience of working with newspapers got me in the habit of reading the newspaper pretty much every day.  When I started as a student at the University of Jeromeville, one of the first things I did was look into getting a newspaper subscription.  The university newspaper, the Daily Colt, was free, but it mostly only covered campus news and local news of interest to students.  Jeromeville had a local newspaper, the Jeromeville Times, but I wanted a larger and more comprehensive newspaper that would report on state and national news as well, so I subscribed to the big city newspaper for the region, the Capital City Record.  Each of the campus residential areas had a newspaper vending machine, and students who lived there and subscribed to the paper were given a key to unlock the machine and take a paper.  It seemed like it worked on the honor system, and one could easily abuse the system and steal more than one paper, but I never had a problem with the machine running out of newspapers or anything.

One morning, about two weeks into class that quarter, I got my copy of the Record on my way out of the dining hall, and I read it in my dorm room before it was time for class to start, as was my usual routine.  The major news story that dominated my freshman year at UJ was the trial of retired football player O.J. Simpson, who had been accused of killing his ex-wife.  The media reported on every sensationalized detail of the trial. I skipped over that news on the front page. I was kind of tired of hearing about O.J. Simpson.

A few pages in, I saw a headline which rang a bell in the back of my mind.  I began reading the article, shocked once I realized why it sounded so familiar.

Repressed memory conviction overturned

San Francisco – A federal judge yesterday overturned the conviction of George Franklin, who was found guilty of murdering a young girl based on the testimony of his daughter’s repressed memories.

The concept of repressed memory, the unconscious forgetting and later remembering of uncomfortable events from one’s past, was a common subject of daytime talk shows and trashy tabloid news of the time period.  In 1969, an eight-year-old girl in California was murdered, but no one was ever charged with the crime. Twenty years later, a friend of the deceased girl now had a daughter who was around the same age as her friend had been when she was killed.  She claimed that seeing her own daughter at that age triggered memories of her father, George Franklin, having smashed her friend’s head with a rock long ago. Mr. Franklin’s murder conviction was the first time that repressed memory had been used as part of a criminal case in court.  Mr. Franklin’s story had been told by true crime writer Harry N. MacLean in a book called Once Upon A Time.

The reason I had a personal interest in this case right now is because Once Upon A Time was required reading for the Psychology and the Law class that I was taking right now.  It was a class for the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, so it was only open to students in the program, all of whom lived with me in Building C.

The next time that class met, at the beginning of class, the professor, Dr. Kemp, walked in a few minutes after I got there.  As he was organizing his notes, he asked, “Did anyone see anything in the news this week that has to do with this class?”

“George Franklin got released from prison,” I said.

“Yes,” Dr. Kemp replied.  “His conviction was overturned.”

“What?” said Dan Woodward.

“That scumbag is out of prison?!” Theresa Arnold exclaimed.

“He isn’t actually out of prison yet.  But an appeals judge found that the prosecution did not present their case correctly,” Dr. Kemp explained.

“So what’s going to happen to this class now?” I asked.

“We’re still going to do everything I had planned, and we’ll talk about this new development later when it comes up.  Let’s get back to where we were last time.”

Dr. Kemp began his lecture, and I took notes.  Sticking to the plan seemed like the best possible option at this point.  Still, though, it seemed like this must have thrown off all of Dr. Kemp’s plans for the class.  I would have felt that way if I had been a teacher.


Sometimes, even in the days before smartphones, news traveled so fast that I would hear about something before reading it in the newspaper the next morning.  About a week after hearing that George Franklin’s murder conviction had been overturned, I sat at the dining hall during lunch one day with some of my usual friends: Liz and Ramon, Sarah, Pete, Charlie, and Krista.  They were already there when I joined their table.

“It’s so sad what happened,” Liz said.

“All those innocent people,” Sarah contemplated aloud.

“I feel really dumb for asking,” I said, “but what’s going on?”

“A terrorist blew up a government building in Oklahoma,” Pete explained.


“Do they have a suspect?  Or do they know why?” Krista asked.

“I haven’t heard,” Pete said.

I don’t react outwardly to news of this sort.  I feel like this lack of emotion makes me some kind of inhuman monster who doesn’t care that people died.  That isn’t true. I guess it is just harder in my mind to connect with things like this that happened far away.

Something felt a little different about this news, though.  Oklahoma is far away, yes, but it isn’t the kind of place where I would have expected to hear about a terrorist attack.  These kinds of things happen in places like New York or Washington, D.C., not Oklahoma.

I didn’t usually watch TV news, but that night I did, on the tiny black-and-white TV in my room.  The bombing happened in Oklahoma City, the state capital, and there were dozens confirmed dead already, with more likely to be found as the rubble was searched.  A suspect was in custody already, and he was believed to be a radical executing a vendetta against the government.

Oklahoma City may have been far off to me, a place to watch on the news, but it hit much closer to home for someone I knew.  I discovered this when I checked my email later that night.


Hey… how are you?  How were your classes today?  I hope it went well.

Did you hear about the bombing in Oklahoma City?  It’s scary. That’s only a few hours away from me.  My friend’s grandma lives in Oklahoma City, but not in that part of the city.  She’s ok. Today at school they called a special assembly so they could talk to us about it.  I heard on the news that they said something like that could happen here. I hope there aren’t any more attacks any time soon.

Take care and stay safe.



Brittany sounded scared, and I felt a little worried for her.  She lived in Amarillo, Texas, directly west of Oklahoma City. I had never met her personally; we met in a chat room last summer, when I first got this computer.  That was the first time I had the technology to communicate online with someone in another state, and she had stayed in touch ever since. She was a year younger than me, just finishing high school.

I wrote back later that night.


My day was pretty good.  I just went to classes. I had a math midterm today.  I think I did well. I’m taking vector analysis this quarter.  I’d never really heard of that before this class, but so far it seems pretty easy.

I did hear about the bombing… that’s scary.  You don’t hear about things like that happening in places like Oklahoma City.  I’m sure it’s a lot more scary for you since you’re not very far away. I hope nothing happens to you… if something did happen and you ever needed a place to go, maybe you could come stay with me.

I hope you have a better day tomorrow.



I wasn’t sure why I wrote that last part.  Could Brittany really come stay with me? Probably not, because all I had was a dorm room.  And we didn’t really even know each other, although we had been exchanging emails for eight months.  But she was a girl, and I wanted to meet her, and hey, you never know. Brittany wrote back the next day and thanked me for my kind offer, although she also said she probably wouldn’t be allowed to stay in my dorm.  We never did meet in person. We lost touch sometime in the middle of sophomore year.


A few days after the bombing in Oklahoma City, while it was still fresh in everyone’s memory, I was sitting in Psych-Law class, waiting for Dr. Kemp to arrive.  Dan Woodward walked in about a minute after me. Dan lived on the third floor, and he was politically outspoken and involved in a number of political groups on campus.  His views mostly disagreed with mine, so I didn’t often seek out conversations with him, although I didn’t avoid him either. But I clearly remember what he said when he walked into the classroom that day.

“There was a bombing in Capital City,” Dan said.

“What?” Gina Stalteri asked loudly.

“Someone mailed a package bomb to a political group’s office, and somebody died.”

Everyone else just kind of sat in silence for a minute or so until Dr. Kemp entered the room and started class.  This news story was definitely close to home, both literally and emotionally. Oklahoma City was halfway across the country, but this bombing happened only 15 miles away.  It was just as unusual to hear of this kind of thing happening here as it was in Oklahoma City.

The next morning, reading the Capital City Record, I read more about the mail bomb.  It was the work of a well-known serial bomber who had been responsible for numerous other similar attacks off and on since the 1970s.  His most recent attack had been four months earlier in New Jersey. The FBI referred to this terrorist as “the Unabomber.” The nickname was shortened from “university airline bomber,” because many of his attacks targeted people at universities and airlines.  In 1987, he was seen planting a bomb in Utah, having concealed his face with a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses. A witness contacted a police sketch artist, and a picture of this sketch appeared here on the front page of the Record.  I noticed that my dad had a pair of sunglasses that looked very similar to the Unabomber’s sunglasses, although the rest of the picture did not look much like my dad.

The Unabomber sketch, which I got from Wikipedia in 2019.

The Unabomber often targeted people at universities; was Jeromeville in danger?  Could the Unabomber strike here, especially since he had struck in Capital City? The article said that one of his previous bombs, in 1985, had also been mailed to Capital City; maybe he had some connection to this area?  As scary as it was to think about, there wasn’t much I could do about anything, other than be wary of suspicious packages.


The Unabomber would be in the news many more times over the next year or so.  I will come back to that story another time.  George Franklin didn’t really come up a lot more in my life; in Psychology and the Law class, we didn’t really talk a whole lot about his conviction being overturned.  His case wasn’t the entire focal point of the class. We had a lot of other things to talk about.

About a decade later, I would make a personal connection with the bombing in Oklahoma City.  The site had been turned into a memorial and museum, which I eventually visited when I was traveling.  It was a moving and memorable experience. I think the connection to this place felt stronger than with most historical sites I’ve visited, because I was old enough to remember when the event happened.  (The suspect who was caught on the day of the bombing was found guilty and received the death penalty; another co-conspirator is currently serving life in prison.)

The grounds of the memorial include sculptures of 168 chairs, each inscribed with the name of one of the 168 victims.  I took this picture when I was there in 2005.

My career as a paperboy lasted nine months, and the reason I quit was so typical of me.  The Gabilan News office ran a contest for its paper carriers, where over a period of three months, we would be entered into a drawing for a new Nintendo Entertainment System.  Each month, paper carriers would be entered into the contest if their number of complaints was below a certain limit. But the contest was horribly unfair, because the number of complaints each carrier was allowed was based on the average number of complaints that carrier usually received in a month.  Someone like me, who rarely got complaints, was not allowed to get any, whereas someone incompetent would be allowed up to four complaints before getting disqualified from the contest. I told my supervisor that this was unfair, and he probably assumed I was just some pretentious kid who wasn’t able to make a logical argument, so instead of leveling the playing field and taking away the disadvantage from those of us who tried to do a good job, he just told me that I would be allowed one complaint instead of none.  So as soon as I got my second complaint, disqualifying me from the contest, I gave my notice that I was quitting, and I used my money from my last month to buy my own Nintendo, which I still have, and which sometimes still works over 30 years later.

Although my middle school career as a paperboy ended poorly, I’ve still to this day always been a news reader, rather than a television news watcher.  I stopped getting a printed newspaper delivered in 2012, because money was tight and I was looking to cut expenses. I read news online now. I miss newspapers.  It hurts for me to say that the newspaper is a dying medium. Print newspapers still exist, and I suppose I could go back to having a print newspaper delivered to my house.  However, I have become used to not having a print newspaper, and honestly I never did read every article, so it would be a bit wasteful having a print newspaper every day.

I was dismayed to read in 2013 that the print edition of the University of Jeromeville’s Daily Colt newspaper had been completely discontinued, with the Daily Colt continuing to exist only as an online news site.  A few years later, though, a student referendum raised fees slightly to bring back the print edition of the Daily Colt.  The current Daily Colt is only printed weekly, despite the name.  Sometimes, when I find myself on the UJ campus these days, I’ll grab a copy of the Daily Colt, so I can keep up with what is happening on campus these days.  And just like I used to do between classes in the 1990s, I always do the crossword puzzle.

Sometimes it feels like there is so much bad news in the world that I wonder if I would be better off not following the news at all.  But as with many things in life, balance is key. I don’t need to dwell on the negative. But it is also important to know what is going on in the world.  I fear for the future sometimes when I hear people say that they don’t follow the news, and that they have not heard about important things that affect all of us.  I don’t know. I try to stay out of those kinds of arguments. Sometimes people need to know the truth, but it is so exhausting trying to argue with an angry and opinionated person.

And in hindsight, the news wasn’t all bad during this era.  The last few years had seen the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and Apartheid in South Africa.  The first state governor I had ever voted for won. And the Internet revolution was just beginning. It was an exciting time to be alive, and I had my newspapers to read about what was going on around me, to help me understand myself in relation to the rest of the world.