Journal class

A birthday | News, Sports, Jobs

Twenty-eight years ago my first column appeared in the Jamestown Post-Journal. The column is actually a bit older than that. Prior to newspaper publication, I wrote a column for a small gift magazine and did a Search-a-Word puzzle for it.

When I started working for the newspaper, I expanded my column and eventually submitted it to two other newspapers. For many years it was published by a weekly newspaper that went from Maine to Virginia. After some negotiation, I was published by the Warren Times Observer. My husband always felt bad that it took so long to get published by his hometown newspaper. My husband at the time was my spell checker and proofreader. When he died, I lost that. I was alone for seventeen years doing my own proofreading. I managed. My second husband didn’t do the proof for me, but he still read it. He told me he had to read it because the guys he played golf with always talked about it. He had to be informed. Over the years I have written about many things. Last week I received a call from a reader who just wanted to meet me. We’ve talked long enough. She was from New York and hadn’t realized that I grew up not far from her home and had family in the area. What most people tell me is that they can relate to what I write. I’m glad so many people relate. After all, a writer needs a reader, so I sincerely thank all the loyal readers who read my column week after week. I vary what I write. A former publisher told me that I had as many male readers as female readers. I am always aware of this when I put my pieces together. I don’t want to alienate either gender. My recipes seem to continue to be popular. The lady who called me told me that she regularly makes my oatmeal and honey bread. I tell others favorite recipes. A favorite was my slow cooker tapioca pudding. Since I came across this recipe, I haven’t made tapioca any other way. Travel coins are also popular. People like to travel through me. I haven’t traveled in the past two years due to COVID, but have really enjoyed my travels. Don saw a place on television and asked me if I had been there. More often than not, I had been there. Of course, my family provided me with a lot of material. The years I babysat for grandchildren were special. We had a lot of fun and I think the kids learned a lot too. The youngest grandchild told me that he wanted me to be his teacher. He told me that I said things in a way he understood. We did a lot of homework together because he came here after school. I knew very early on that he learned differently. Although he learned differently, he learned quickly. I understood it. When I make programs for various organizations, I always get asked where my ideas come from. My standard answer is that I read a lot. I just find a core and go from there. I am also a good listener. When I go somewhere, I listen to the different conversations. Often this provides a spark for an article.

I recently received an article and a recipe from a reader. She made me a copy. I haven’t had a chance to try the recipe yet, but I will soon. I always collect recipes. My criteria is that all ingredients should be something that I regularly have in my pantry. If I have to go out to buy something, chances are I’ll never get there. Most of the recipes in my cookbooks have common regular ingredients that I have around. When I was teaching, the dining room provided a lot of material to write on. I did not write about the students, but about our conversations (the teachers). I’ve written about playgrounds, sledding, Halloween parties, and Valentine’s Day. All of these pieces came from everyday conversations. People keep asking me to keep writing. They wait impatiently from week to week to see what my column will be about. I really like to write. It’s a revelation because I never dreamed, I had the ability. A teacher made fun of the way I wrote. Too bad he’s not here to see what I’ve done.

As I can write about anything, it’s always a challenge to find something new to write about. When I was preparing this, I happened to think it was my birthday – from the first published column. I remember the editor telling me to do about 1,000 words. Then she backed off and told me to write until I said all I had to say. Column lengths vary, but when I’m done, I’m done. I did the same with the sermons I prepared. I never set a limit. I just made my point, said what the Lord gave me to say, and that was it.

So again, thank you to all my readers. I’ve met many of you at craft shows and programs. You bring me great joy!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pennsylvania. Contact [email protected]

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