A few years ago, I approached Royal Barnard, then editor of the Mountain Times. Intrigued by Brett Yates’ “Generation Y” column, I suggested I write a column geared for our Baby-Boomer generation. The one-word response from Royal, “OK”, launched a four-year stint for me.
My first column appeared in mid-September 2010 with the opening line, “Say it loud. I’m a Boomer and I’m proud.” Each week I shared stories of my childhood, my teen angst, memories of motherhood, ridiculous family holiday traditions and every rock and roll analogy I could conjure. I embarrassed my daughters and immortalized my grandkids. I named names and took numbers–all in fun, of course.
Many of my columns elicited feedback from readers. “All I Want for Christmas Are Some Jeans that Fit” drew letters and emails from fellow Boomer women who lamented with me about the inability to find jeans that covered our butts and fit like a glove. “Whatever Happened to Colored Toilet Paper.” a column featuring products we remembered as kids but that have gone by the wayside, drew the largest number of emails. We all wondered about the demise of Minipoo, Ipana and SaniFlush.
Though I always tried to bring humor into every column, some were more somber–written in response to tragic current events. I shared my patriotic heart after standing in a funeral procession for a fallen soldier. I urged parents to pass along the rules of reverence for our flag and our national anthem in “Teach Your Children Well.” I wrote about the heroic acts of Vermonters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
Over the years, readers asked how I came up with ideas for each column. I realized I never had to research to come up with a topic. Simple everyday occurrences would spur an idea. The trick was writing it down while it was fresh, as this Boomer memory fades more each day. There were many times I pulled off the side of the road to jot down titles that came to mind at obviously inopportune times. I did just that the day the radio DJ announced the elimination of two playing pieces from the standard Monopoly game. That gave rise to “The Day the Iron Got the Boot.”
Though the ideas always seemed to arrive in the nick of time right before I panicked over a full-blown writer’s block, the window of opportunity for actually finding the time to write began to narrow. More recent columns were written late at night or during lunch breaks. I would get a great idea for a column, only to remember I wrote about it two years ago.
So like all good things, even this column–my baby, my pride and joy–comes to an end. Like a hot comedy series, you want to go out while on top and before jumping the shark. You want your audience to remember you in a positive light. You want to leave them, hopefully, waiting for more.
And so I offer you my final Boomer column and I bid you farewell–for now.
Someday, when I finally check this one off my bucket list, a novel will be born. It might be “The Last Resort” or “The Roller Coaster Boys” or one of the dozen book titles that reside on my laptop with scattered chapters already written. You will download my book onto your obsolete Kindle. You will laugh, you will cry, you will nod your head in agreement when it strikes a chord in your heart. And then you will say, “Ah, I knew her when she was just a columnist with the Mountain Times.”
Thank you, Royal, for giving me a start. Thank you, Polly, for keeping me on and for understanding my need for a graceful exit. And thank you to all of you who read my words and smiled. Daryle–thank you for your always entertaining emails. Pat and Barry and Dr. and Mrs. Charnok–thank you for sharing how you would enjoy the column, reading it as a couple. My online audience–thank you for reaching out, asking when the column would be posted. It was like me clamoring for Mother of the Skye. And thank you Billy for encouraging me to always follow my dreams.
I wish you all happy holidays and a prosperous new year….and to all a good night. See you on the other side.
Cindy Phillips is a columnist for The Mountain Times, firstname.lastname@example.org.