TWENTY YEARS AGO to the day I arrived in Quincy. Geesh, what I would say to that version of me now, two decades later ....
I was young and dumb, for sure. Those first few weeks were a blur, yet I still remember some stuff like it was yesterday. And it's staggering to think of what was and what is.
Quincy Newspapers Inc. put me up in the Hotel Quincy. It was ... an experience, 40 days and nights of my life I'm never getting back. But I didn't have to sleep on somebody else's couch or pay for a one-month apartment. I got used to the smells and stairs and interesting people coming and going at all hours.
I came in along Ill. 57 and it seemed .... industrial. Then I tried to park at the Hotel Quincy, but there was a huge carting race downtown and I couldn't get near the place. I finally grabbed a shopping cart (a shopping cart?) and used it to haul all my crap into the room.
My first night in town was Don Crim's 40th birthday party. I met nearly everybody I needed to meet right then and there. People made me feel at home right away. Wouldn't you know it - The Cheeseburgers are playing at Don's birthday party this Saturday. You do the math to figure out how old he is!
I'd walk to the office early in the morning, and it amazed me people were in the Branding Iron at Fifth and Hampshire at 5:30 a.m. Later, it didn't amaze me. I walked past the corner of Fifth and Maine four or five times a day, and I never in a million years thought I'd be a co-owner of a music store and building there.
I remember walking up Hampshire to catch a $1 movie at the Adams Theater. Now it's known as One Restaurant.
I remember driving to a Hannibal High School football game and thinking, "Holy crap, I'm in Missouri covering a football game."
Now I'm back at The Whig a couple of nights a week helping out in sports. There are a bunch of college kids taking calls and writing short stories, and the other night I met a new full-time reporter.
I want to scream at them and tell them to slow down and enjoy being young. These are the halycon days you can't get back, and you'll appreciate them more and more as the years go by.
Also, don't blink. Twenty years disappears like a flash.