So it is that exciting time of year when baseball is in the air, basketball (March Madness, specifically) is just about in the rearview mirror and, for those with teams still in it, the Stanley Cup playoffs loom just around the corner.
Spring has officially sprung and yet all of us around the newsroom are eager for more rain, hoping that “April showers” will prove to be a reality. Every little bit will help but the string of 80-plus degree days of the past week don’t offer up much hope that we will have a cool transition from winter to spring.
My parents on the East Coast are still dealing regularly with sub-freezing weather and occasional snow; it was 82 degrees here late Saturday afternoon as I visited with my mom, who reported about a 50-degree difference between here and there.
It took me back to the winter that I moved from upstate New York to the Central Valley – an event that occurred 22 years ago. I left NY just a couple of weeks after one of the largest snowstorms in recorded history to hit that area, for days the only things moving in town were the National Guard Humvees they brought in to shuffle piles of snow around. People always asked what kind of ‘culture shock’ I went through moving from New York to the west coast – it was more a weather shock than anything else. Upstate New York, where I was born and raised, featured hills and trees, more cows than people in the county I grew up in; most people automatically think ‘the city’ when you say you are from New York, so adapting to the agriculture-rich Central Valley was not a problem. Having rain and fog mean Christmas is coming was a change; normally snow and ice means that. And even though we had humidity where I grew up, the summer temperatures rarely got over 90 degrees. If they did, it was a day here or there throughout the summer, not several in a row. So that first summer here, hitting 110 degrees was almost unfathomable. No worries, it’s a ‘dry’ heat. Still, 110, that’s just hot.
But yes, it has been 22 years since I made the move from east to west, my anniversary date at the newspaper was March 24 and it really is hard to believe more than two decades has passed. When I got here, it was just me and my cat … within three years I was married, had inherited two stepsons and given birth to my daughter. I have also spent time over the years working at each office – Riverbank, Escalon and Oakdale and now, even though we do all three papers out of the same central office, I still get to spend time and cover events in each community.
You might think that after 22 years it would get to be ‘old’ but I have found just the opposite to be true. There are many events we cover that happen annually in our communities so the trick is finding something new and different about them, a way to make the coverage unique. One of the joys now (although it is a little frightening as well) is to be making contact with sports coaches for the Escalon teams I cover and realize many of them are former EHS students that I wrote about in years past. Now, they are the teachers and coaches I am quoting, instead of the kids I am photographing. I have even taken photos of the kids of the kids that were in school when I first got here. Talk about full circle.
I also was twice honored recently – and want to extend my deepest thanks for a couple of incredibly special events.
The Escalon Sports Boosters conducted a brick fundraiser, with the decorative paver bricks installed when school was out for a week in February, placed in front of the new gym. One of them was placed there by the Boosters Club in my honor with the inscription ‘Marg Jackson – Committed to Escalon Athletics!’ – and I couldn’t have been more surprised and pleased. I love covering sports and to be recognized for that in such a lasting way, unbelievable.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, I was asked to attend the Escalon Sunrise Rotary Club’s charter night, when they celebrate the club’s anniversary. They said to ‘just come’ but I had my camera and notebook in tow as usual. During a portion of the evening, they were going to present the club’s Paul Harris Fellow for the year and since that is the highest honor for Rotary, I got the camera ready to chronicle the event.
Except they called my name.
It was a moment that will not be forgotten … I was speechless and truly humbled. The Paul Harris Fellow award recognizes recipients “in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.”
Wow, what do you say to that? “Thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
And being recognized for simply doing something I love? A blessing, to be sure.
So as I celebrate 22 years here, please remember that you are the reason I still enjoy my ‘job’ – you, our readers, who continue to support the paper, who clip out articles and photos for scrapbooks, who offer up story ideas … even those who take time to call and complain; you are all part of my journey – and I am truly grateful.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.