Growing up in the small town of Crewe, Virginia, I would often ride my bike to the local newspaper office and watch them assemble the weekly newspaper. I always thought it would be fun to work at a newspaper. I still remember the smell of the ink and other chemicals that permeated the building.
Occasionally I made a stop at the local funeral home too. The smells there were much different. To this day that place smells like roses and baby powder. During one of my visits, the owners convinced me that being an undertaker was a noble profession. The idea of preparing dead bodies seemed so fascinating. When I told my father about my career path, he assured me that those people made lots of money, far more than the people who worked at the newspaper.
(Downtown Crewe, VA)
In the years that followed, I continued to explore the possibility of life as a funeral director. In fact, my middle school career project was all about the skills and education necessary to follow that path.
During one of my bike rides around town, I stopped in the local drug store for an orange-aid. The store had a small photo lab in the back that was actually run by the pharmacist. She convinced me to explore a photography career. I remember telling her that my mind was made up. I was going to be an undertaker, but I would give it a try.
When I turned 16 and it was time for my first job, the newspaper wasn’t hiring, the funeral home never called me back, so I found myself working at the local radio station.
Those bike rides paid off in some respects. I’ve managed to make a living as a journalist, photographer, and now here I am back full circle as a newspaper columnist.
I hope you will enjoy reading about my perspective on life. They say we all have a story to tell; we just don’t always realize it. I’m sure other people’s lives are far more interesting than mine. Perhaps, in the weeks, months, and years to come, you’ll gleam some interesting tidbit that you can use in your own life. I’m certainly no expert.
As an adult, I look back on my story, and realize the importance of friends, mentors, and advisors in the life of a child. In fact, research shows that these relationships result in positive academic outcomes, enhanced social and mental development, and prevention of at-risk behaviors. I’m thankful for those people who took the time from their busy schedules to impart some of their wisdom and guidance. I can definitely say those relationships shaped me into the person I am today. One of those mentors encouraged me to always take the road “less traveled”, thus the name of this column. I’ve found it has less garbage on it.
By the way, I’m still waiting on that call from the funeral home, until then, I’ll keep writing.