For the Love of Words and Those Who Use Them: A Response To Marilyn's Challenge
I wrote what I thought would be in keeping with the challenge but I did not like the result. Instead I wrote this story.
It was a busy week at our little Chicago television station. We were chosen to sponsor a series of television seminars and lectures on the general theme of words and how we use them. I know. Doesn't narrow the playing field much, does it? Seems like this should be a project for PBS. I mean, it's the sort of thing they do. I say television lectures because they will be televised, but there will still be the experts sitting around a table exchanging their point of view. Oh yes, and a monitor or a group leader. That's me.
Oh, yes! Lest I forget, I'm gale Neilson and I got the winning straw. By being in the wrong place, I got chosen to moderate this shindig. The winning straw, so to speak. The first show was coming up in three days and we didn't even have our first guest speakers. If I didn't get somebody soon, I might have to narrate the whole thing myself. since I am the designate stuckee on this.
Maybe somebody on the fifth floor management suite decided to test my abilities, or maybe wanted an excuse to fire me. I'll assume it is a test of my writing, editing producing my own show and filling in for anyone who doesn't show up, for whatever reasons. Naturally, I still needed to do my own show which is a bit free wheeling. They let me do what I want to do, as long as it gets good ratings. Mostly it falls into the category of hobbies and human interest.
When all else fails, go to lunch. Mainly, I had to get out of the studios and get a change of scene. There was a restaurant in a nearby mall noted for its salads. A modest chicken salad seemed just the thing for the moment. I parked my Jeep just down the lot and stopped to look in the display window. There was a pair of boots would be just right for what I wanted to wear, along with a knee length skirt and a soft colored blouse. I wanted the right touch of an authoritative lock and a gentle softness.
When I left the store, I put the packages in the backseat and looked around me. Oh-oh. As Dorothy said, I didn't think I was in Kansas anymore, or Illinois. At least not today's Kansas. The mall was gone. A short distance away was a familiar old saloon with a porch like boardwalk and some benches. As I wandered over in that direction I saw a familiar female figure in a blue-grey dress reaching down nearly to her ankles,. sitting on one of the benches.
It was Sarah who seemed to be my great grandmother who published the Carbons Creek Sentinel in the little town of Carbons Creek about one hundred and some years ago.
Some Words With Sarah
As I sat down on the bench with her. Sarah looked up and said "Nice to see you here today, Gale".
" Ä pleasant day to you as well," I replied.I don't know why I fell into such a formal way of talking. The atmosphere, I suppose. Sarah in the normal world died many years before I was even born, yet here we could have passed for twins.
"Sarah," I asked, "why do you publish the "Sentinel." I mean it must have been a tough job in your day.
"Ï took over the paper when the original publisher, my uncle was murdered. He used his words to fight corruption in the county and he was killed for it. I couldn't stand by and see that happen. He survived the Civil War and came back to publish his paper, and died for it. Yes, I did have a publishing career in Chicago, but I could not let my uncles death go for nothing. His words and mine have to continue to fight for good, as I am sure yours will. Now Gale, "why do you work and write for your job?"
"Well," I started, "it isn't all writing." I proceeded to tell her about the project that I was assigned, about how it is the way it is in the broadcasting game. The regular part of the job is that I talk. I do write a script ahead of time and then I talk to the audience. I used to be satisfied my words reached, informed or entertained people Gradually, I learned to really listen to their words and their stories.
"Yes Gale. It is important to listen to others words and stories. That became important for me and the paper. But tell me about the."..what do you call it? Television?
Now how was I to explain TV to someone who had never seen a movie. Photgraphs were still something of a novelty and electricity was sort of like magic?
"Try, if you will, Sarah, to imagine that instead of printing a newspaper you could make pictures that move..."
"We do get some some pictures to illustrate stories from carving and engravings. We also have a photographer in town who sometimes will take pictures for us.
"That's where it starts, but we go beyond that. Try to visualize objects that move in the picture. Move within the frame.
"How is that possible?
So many things I take for granted must seem just short of miracles to someone from the past. Then I though of something we did as kids. "Do you have a thick pad of paper I can use, Sarah?
Luckily, she found a pad. I proceeded to draw little stick people on the corner of of the papers in different positions. Then had her watched as I flipped through the pages shoeing the stick persons jumping rope.
Is that what your TV is like, Gale?"
"No, Sarah. It is much more complicated, but this should give you an idea of how it works."
I watched Sarah flip through the pages several times. I wished I could show her some movies but I know the technology wouldn't work in the ghost town. I realized I was so used to showing that I was forgetting that for being a journalist was to use words and stories to keep people informed and entertained. For a moment I envied Sarah and her times. Modern times was too cluttered with gadgets, we forget why we have them in the first place.
Words have moved nations. Words have started great religions. How much more power we have when we combine words pictures, and authentic people to tell the stories.
Sarah, thank you for this little chat. When I see how much you have accomplished with your paper, I realize the resources and tools I have means I should carry on and do even more. I meant that too.
The lecture series was a smashing success and I am somewhat proud that I took an and accomplished the task of narrating the series. I also found roles for some staff members that would give them experience for future assignments. Most of all, everyone, including myself, learned and had fun.
© 2015 Don A. Hoglund
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