The year was 1989.
Ronald Reagan had left the presidency and his V.P., George H.W. Bush had become the nation’s 41st president.
“Driving Miss Daisy” and “When Harry Met Sally” were both box office hits while the “Cosby Show” dominated television screens across the country.
Here in our little corner of Chautauqua County, I was writing news and features for the Mayville Sentinel, Westfield Republican and Chautauqua News.
Early in the year, my then editor Bridget Best Johnson asked if I’d like to try putting out a weekly “personal experience” column.
The idea fascinated — and terrified — me.
After years of writing local news and regional features, I was used to telling readers about what was happening across the area. But with a personal experience column, I would have to open my world, my life and my thoughts to anyone who happened to pick up a paper. Could I do that? Did I want to?
It didn’t take me long to realize this was a great opportunity. But where could I start? And what would I call this weekly visit?
Fortunately, the answers came one day when I met my friend, the late Mary Ann Magoon Roache, coming out of the Findley Lake Post office.
“So what are you up to today?” I asked.
“Oh, I”m just moseyin’ along,” she said. And I knew I had my title.
Moseyin’ Along is the speed of life in this little corner of the world. The pace is fast enough to keep the dust from settling but slow enough to smell the roses.
It took a good bit of trial and error, but at last the format felt right. My first Moseyin’ Along column appeared on June 22, 1989. Yesterday, June 22, 2011, was the 22nd anniversary of that career-changing article.
I’ve done a great deal of writing through the years — magazines and newspapers in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as two collections of Moseyin’ Along columns. But this weekly piece has been the most enjoyable, most dear-to-my-heart effort I’ve ever undertaken.
Through these long years, you and I have shared laughter and tears, highs and lows.
Together, we managed to get past the fear and sorrow of September 11. You gave me the strength I needed in 2004, when Hurricane Charley took our Florida home. You listened as I discovered the joy of becoming a grandmother — twice.
And, we’ve dealt with so many topics both light and serious. We’ve covered everything from bird watching to bulging billfolds, from porches to politics, from Halloween memories to hardware stores.
When I started this Moseyin’ journey, my hubby George and I had been married 33 years, and we had both served as active members of the Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
Now, we have 55 years of marriage to our credit. And, though our firefighting days are long behind us, we still have the priceless friendships we made during those exciting and challenging days.
Many of my long-ago friends and readers are gone now. Findley Lake folks like Bus Bradley, Les Hurlbut, Sally Porter, Mae Eaton, Fran Himelein and on and on.
Still, I’m delighted so many fellow Moseyers are still joining me for these weekly visits — folks like Mary Cooper and Emily Newell, Lance Kinal and Gene Johnson.
In addition, many who had lived in the area now reside in all corners of the country and beyond. I treasure the notes I get from these ex-Chautauqua Countians who continue reading the local newspapers to keep up with home town happenings.
It’s hard to believe, but today’s Moseyin’ Along column is number ONE THOUSAND! And, with it, I begin my 23rd year of sharing my thoughts and observations each week.
I’ll look forward to meeting you here again next Thursday. And together, we’ll enjoy another chance to Mosey Along together.