Neither my wife, Brenda, nor I had any idea what kind of traffic to expect. Typically on a Tuesday, the day following the publication and distribution of the new weekly issue of our paper I am busy ‘tearing down’ the pages on the computer – pulling off ads and deleting photos/articles – to make room for content for the next issue. I’m also downloading files and elements to fill the ‘TV guide’ section. None of that happened as I did not even force the computer I use for this to wake up out of sleep mode as I wasn’t going to be building another issue.
The cookie situation, as it turned out, was the source of much conversation between the two of us leading up to today’s celebration and after fluctuating back and forth on how many to get, we decided on a figure. Even at that, there was a fear that it was possibly too much or maybe not enough. Regardless, the local baker donated the cookies and we picked up some extras – just in case. What we did not expect was to have between 50 and 60 people come and go throughout the day.
Some stopped in quickly to wish us well. Some stayed long enough to have a quick coffee. Some brought flowers, gifts and cards. Some stayed long enough for a cookie. Some stayed long enough for coffee, a cookie and some conversation. Some stayed for a visit. It was a great way to end my 12 ½ years as owner/publisher. In fact, it also happened to mark an interesting anniversary for me. My first day of work at the Similkameen News Leader was July 26, 2000. That was when I assumed the responsibilities of advertising sales manager. Today, my very last day as owner/publisher was July 26, 2016.
The many visitors we had were amazing. We heard so many great things being said about us, the paper, and our contribution to the community and how much our paper and our regular coverage of all things local will be missed. One particular visitor put it into perspective for me. Hanna and I have known each other for probably four or more years. I knew her mother when she was Hanna’s age. Hanna explained to me that the coverage of activities she has been involved in during her high school years that appeared in the News Leader has all been kept in a scrapbook. It filled pages of her scrapbook.
That was something I had mentioned in an interview recently with another ‘big city’ newspaper about our closure. I was asked in that interview what I thought set our product apart from that of bigger, corporate newspapers. I answered saying we liked to focus on the smaller things – items bigger papers viewed as ‘soft news’ – because even if it was something like a kid winning an award of some kind, that was still big news to the winner and his or her family. I went on to say that the best compliment I could receive was to know that the things we published became ‘scrapbook material’ because it showed we had an impact somehow at a personal level.
Our office celebration was like that. A lot of great stories from friends and readers who wanted us to know we had touched their lives in some way. It was the best day I have ever had at work in my life. Both Brenda and I finished the day in a great state of mind. There were days when we often wondered why we kept trying so hard. There were days I wished that someone would just give me a clue that I was actually on the right path with the way I was doing things. Hanna’s story confirmed this and gave me one of the best memories I will carry from my last day in the office.