Fare thee well

Allison Graham smiles as she works at her desk Friday, July 30 on her last day at the Tama newspaper office. The desk is the same space her dad Charley worked out of for many years as the sports editor in Tama. After seven years writing, quite literally, in the footsteps of her father, Graham is moving on to a career as an elementary school counselor, a profession her mom Anita has embodied at South Tama for nearly three decades.

Well here goes nothing. Today is my last official day as News Editor of the Tama-Toledo News Chronicle. Truthfully though I began writing this back in May but I just couldn’t finish it. Now I feel as though I have to.

I want to start by saying I have loved this job. I have been fortunate to have had some of the best opportunities. I’ve had a front row seat at nearly every state sporting event for the past seven years.

I’ve interviewed governors and walked shoulder to shoulder with Senator Cory Booker as he held my cell phone and graciously answered my questions. I’ve talked makeup with Crystal Gayle and listened to the deep tones of Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys. I’ve talked with families at some of their most vulnerable moments of their lives like the Dietrichs, who had a baby during the 2018 tornado in Marshalltown.

One of the biggest critics of the newspaper once said that a good newspaper makes both political sides mad.

I can say with honesty that we have successfully done that. You as readers aren’t privy to all the phone calls, emails, facebook messages and letters we receive, but trust me at one point or another we’ve made both sides mad!

The 2020 election was probably one of the lowest points in my seven year career with the newspaper. I took a lot of heat professionally. Being publicly called out, criticized and even harassed on social media and behind the scenes particularly from people I’ve known nearly my entire life was hard. It broke my spirit for a while.

I saw some people’s true colors and, let me tell you, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine.

But I learned a lot, not only about other people but about myself. I learned how to stand up for myself. I can see now how resilient I am and I learned I’m not afraid of a challenge.

But the paper isn’t all about politics. In fact, I would say it’s about much more.

The newspaper is our story. It’s the story of our community. It’s capturing and preserving our history. It’s council meetings and school sporting events and community events and people’s lives. It’s the record of us and it has become a passion for me.

Some of you know I’ve been working on my Master’s for School Counseling. I graduated in May and I accepted a position at an elementary school in Newton to follow another passion.

Personally speaking, this job has become a huge part of who I am. I started at the paper in 2014, a week after the Iowa Juvenile Home was shuttered by the state. I took over my dad’s role as sports editor.

It has been strangely therapeutic to come to work and sit at the same desk my dad did for seven years.

He is still with me. In fact the day I originally started writing this column I got a text from a friend saying she was missing my dad. She was at State track and that was one of my dad’s favorite times of year. I’m so glad I got to experience why he loved this job so much. Too much sometimes. I remember several years ago we had tickets to see Alison Krauss, one of my dad’s favs. The baseball team advanced in the playoffs and were scheduled to play the same night. Guess where he was. Yep, baseball!

This past year has been weird and difficult but as a true introvert I’ve also loved parts of it. I actually liked working from home. I also loved working across the desk from my husband for the past year. He is my person and there is no one I trust more. I’m grateful I’ve gotten to go through the last year with him.

I just want to end by saying thank you. Thank you to the readers and particularly subscribers of this paper. Thank you to my publisher Abigail who has been so supportive during all the changes that have come in this industry.

To my family and friends who I’ve laughed, cried and screamed with over this crazy, intense and extremely rewarding job, I love you.

To my friend Ruby who is taking over the North Tama Telegraph. I don’t know if you’ll ever know how grateful I am to have the paper in such great hands. You are going to rock this!

If you are reading this and aren’t subscribed I would encourage you to subscribe. It is a privilege to have a local newspaper and it’s up to all of us to make sure we keep this important staple in our community.

In the words of Jerry

Sometimes the light’s all shinin on me

Other times I can barely see

Lately it occurs to me

What a long, strange trip it’s been