So … hmmmmm … cursor blinking … mind must find words. So here we go.
This almost feels like a resignation letter and in some ways – it is.
Truth be told, I was ready to hit my keyboard and fill it with some final thoughts and words several weeks ago. But pecking order (for some) remains a thing and given the nature of this piece, it seemed both appropriate and fitting to allow Editor Marg Jackson this platform to share the news “officially” first.
So, getting straight to it … we’re moving. No, not me and my little family, but rather myself and my slightly larger work family. The people known to you as the staff of the Oakdale Leader, Riverbank News and Escalon Times have spent the better part of the last weeks of 2022 and first weeks of 2023 packing boxes and purging on a whole new level.
First to put any and all rumors to rest, the business is not closing. We are quite simply vacating a 4,000 square foot space which once housed more people, as well as jobs and relocating to a smaller, quaint 1400 (ish) square foot space for the seven of us.
So as you listen to the news of businesses closing, downsizing, reducing overhead, we are no different. The world wide web has allowed for many production positions to be done centrally, versus at each location and our printing has not happened in our area for well over a decade.
Now with a little disclaimer covered let me share the real stuff, the emotion of it all. Without speaking directly for our editor, she and I share some similarities when it comes to this move, this departure from a home away from home for both ourselves and our children.
Marg relocated from her home state of New York to accept a position working for the operation which was taking place in this building. A handful of years later, this building would become my one and only job in the 22 years of living in Oakdale. Myself a transplant from the Bay Area by way of San Diego, a military wife looking for something to do while my husband was deployed. Marg gave me a job, as well as opportunity and would become my first of many roommates at 122 South Third.
Both of us were not mothers when we began at the paper, that changed. Both of our children have not only grown up in this building but have been loved on by all the amazing people who have also called this building home. Our kids have done homework on the desks, eaten cookies at the front counter and yes, even laid at our feet with blankies on days they didn’t feel well because, “mommy’s on deadline.”
That’s simply part of the gig if you are being raised by a journalist. Most especially in the early days when remote work was not a thing and work done away from the office was submitted on a floppy disk, remember those? Well, we sure do. Matter of fact a few or maybe a box are in our e-waste pile as I type this.
The old brick building long known as the home of “The Oakdale Leader,” one week from this publication will quite simply no longer be. I struggle with this – a lot. Just like a home, or even a car which holds a lot of memories it’s hard to let that go. A lot of great news has been shared in these walls both professionally and personally. Fortunately from the professional side our good news has outweighed the bad, but that’s there too. Loved ones lost, illness, relationships ending, the crew of 122 are and have always been more than co-workers, as your community papers we operate like a family business, even though we aren’t.
The list of characters who have shared this space is long and I would be lying if I didn’t share there aren’t many we don’t still speak of with a smile and a chuckle. Maybe that’s part of what makes this hard. Their memories won’t be in the new space. It is without doubt a fresh start and yes, that’s a good thing and in many ways a bit long overdue; but it’s hard.
Even as I type this, my brain is saying, “land the plane Teresa. Finish the piece.” But you know what … just like a four-year-old throwing a tantrum … I don’t want to.
The reality of it all is this, there will never again be a 122 South Third like this one in Oakdale. With over 100 years of documenting community news, there are a lot of you out there who equally have memories of “working at the Oakdale Leader.” We are, quite simply, one of the longest standing businesses in town. So, the good news is we’re still in business. The bad news is, we have to pack our memories, say good bye to the brick walls and make a new place home.
Now that we are seven, that transition has added its own memory making to our family story book. Being the small but mighty crew that we are, a few weeks back with the help of family and some priceless friends we moved ourselves. No diva’s around here, nope and if so, you just won’t make it. With a U-Haul at the ready we vacated the building of as much “big stuff” as possible and by noon were seated for lunch, just like a family.
Cheers to you 122, in 22 years of many ups and downs, happiness and heartbreak you have been my constant. I will miss walking through that squeaky door, watching my footing on rainy days and the sudden spook of the 12 o’clock fire horn.
Thank you for being a space I was proud of, as quirky and dumpy as you could be at times. You always held the honor as well as the mystique as “the newspaper office.” So now, like a group of college kids leaving home for the first time, we take what can fit, we make the most of it, remain grateful and yes … create new memories.
Thank you old building, you are forever a piece of mine, as well as my babies’ lives – Godspeed.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.