The Beginning of a Great Career

December 5, 2006
Tuesday
 

I greet you at the beginning of a great career.
                                — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882
                                    American philosopher, to Walt Whitman
                                    upon reading Leaves of Grass
                                    July 21, 1855

Holidailies 2006Yesterday on my gallivanting I had lunch with Dan Good, the editor (until he graduates ten days from now) of The Snapper, the student newspaper of the university I graduated from and which Lynn now attends.

The Snapper is a typical college weekly. It covers campus events and sports, has interviews with faculty and staff, runs movie and music reviews, and letters to the editor, often from students complaining about the parking situation or the difficulty of scheduling classes. It also has staff-written opinion pieces.

I pick up a copy of the current edition whenever I’m on campus. During the fall hockey season, this means about once a week. In October I read an opinion piece that clearly called for comment. I was familiar with the writer’s style and stance, an anti-liberal, anti-feminist agenda expressed in writing that would have had difficulty getting a passing grade from me in a high school class. In preparing a response to the piece, I quickly determined that it had been plagiarized from a popular internet source of anti-liberal, anti-feminist sentiments.

As a result I entered into correspondence with the staff of The Snapper. They were swift to address the problem, dismissing the young writer and publishing a disclaimer in a subsequent issue. I had a few more exchanges with the staff, clarifying some points. Eventually Dan Good wrote to express concern that I had a low opinion of the writing talent on the staff, and he invited me to read a piece to be published in a few weeks, one he had worked on for a long time. It was about his quest to learn about the life of John Miller, the eighteenth-century founder of the village where the university now stands, and to discover his long-lost final resting place.

History! Cemeteries! Lost graves! Now he was singing my song! I looked forward to reading the piece.

Imagine my amazement, and delight, when not only did the piece turn out to be exceptionally well done, its ultimate conclusion was that John Miller’s remains lie under the very spot where I lived my senior year at the school, in an apartment house built as off-campus housing for women who were weary of the parietal rules then in place. My time as a resident of University Apts (the whole word “Apartments” did not fit on the wall that faced the main street) was the happiest of my life, until I married Ron and had Lynn.

I wrote to Dan immediately, congratulating him and relating my history with what is now known as “Millersville Manor,” subsidized housing for senior citizens. (There was a fire there in the mid-seventies, and by 1977, my thirtieth birthday, it had been converted to its present purpose. The irony was not lost upon me.)

In November I attended a Saturday morning meeting of the Millersville Historical Society where Dan made a presentation on his work. Not only does he write well, he speaks well too, a valuable asset as he prepares for a career as an on-air personality in television news. (He currently works part time for the local NBC affiliate. Some of the technical aspects of the coverage of the Amish tragedy were his work.)

We had a delightful lunch at a restaurant with a view of the window of the room I occupied from 1968 to 1969. I will continue to be interested in this young man’s work.

Ralph Waldo Emerson would come to regret that he had been so extravagant in his praise of Walt Whitman, who used the elder writer’s statements without his permission as a blurb for the second edition of Leaves of Grass. I make no restrictions on my assessment of Dan Good’s potential. I greet him at the beginning of a great career.

******** 

Update:
February 20, 2007 —

Dan Good has received three awards in the 2007 Collegiate Keystone Press competition. All material appeared in The Snapper:

First place in the Feature category for “What’s in a Name? For Millersville, Lots
Honorable mention in the Public Service Category for the same piece
Honorable Mention in the Sports category for “The Buck Stops Here

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