On my 9th birthday I was allowed to choose any Denver restaurant I wanted for our family of six to go out and eat.
I chose Stapleton Airport. You could walk through the airport as though you were going somewhere, check payphones for forgotten dimes, watch planes take off and land, and get a sparkler in your birthday cake.
That evening I picked up an application from the United Airlines counter, took it home, filled it out and mailed it. In a week I got a reply thanking me for applying and asking me to re-apply in 10 years, when I’d be 19.
It was signed William A. Patterson, president of United. I didn’t care, I just wanted a job where I could fly to France. But I had to wait 10 years.
So, I threw the letter away and flew with grandma on a Frontier DC-3 to Alamosa to visit my cousins.
I did grow up, did turn 19, didn’t reapply, and didn’t think about all that until I realized this newspaper is heading into birthday week.
The only reason this story even lit up in between my ears is because the Eureka Springs Independent is entering its nines. Perlinda and I have asked each other if, knowing what we know now, would we do this again?
Our first issue crawl wished everyone a Happy 5th of July.
Our advertisers were the CAPC, Basin Spring Gift Shop, DeVito’s, KJ’s Caribe, Sparky’s, Casa Colina, Turpentine Creek, Simply Scrumptious, Eureka Springs Downtown Network, Satori Arts Temple, Mei Li, Angler’s, Squid & Whale, Cottage Inn, The Stonehouse, The Roadhouse, Café Amoré, ReMax, Kristi Kendrick, Keels Creek, Ruby’s Liquor in Seligman, Eureka Massage Center, Currie’s Bathtub Refinishing, Chasers, Quicker Liquors, Pied Piper, Eureka Live, Tad’s, Alpine Liquor, New Delhi, Chelsea’s, Rowdy Beaver Den and Store, Voulez-Vous Lounge, Lucky 7 Rooftop Billiards, Local Flavor, Fanning’s Tree Service and five classifieds.
The tabloid was 24 pages and announced that Butch Berry was running for the State House of Representatives, and rain, drought and heat were about to do us in. Then there was the Mayan Calendar to brood about.
A year later we were at 32 pages, and had added Harts, All Seasons Real Estate, Farm to Table Fresh, Nelson’s Leather, Storage Solution, Fain’s, Peachtree, Logmedics, Knuckeheads, Grand Taverne and B.B. King coming to the Aud.
We had stories on Swepco trying to muscle our private land for their private towers; joining the Tuesday bowling league at Town and Country; and a dog, Melas, that climbed ladders to be on the roof with Daniel Alexander while he worked.
But now! We’re not 19, but we’ve gone to broadsheet, are assuming a rosy future, and it feels as good as a hitting a jackpot. Or not getting hit by flying debris.
Then it all changed. Not just because of Facebook and the Cov-itch, but because newspapering oozed into our considerably unstructured thinking and set up house. We’re where we want to be.
So the answer is yes, Perlinda and I would do this again, do this still, keep doing this, if for no other reason than it does give us a snapshot of who lives here and what they think, what they care about, and what hoops they want us to jump through before they’ll advertise.
And we still laugh, wondering if we will.