Funny the things you hold on to
The handwriting on the wall

Long before the beginning of the down-spiralling of the daily newspaper and long before the family computer became a household item, I did a story on Jennifer Abrams, a fourth grader whose family were considered lifestyles pioneers of the PC. It was the '90s and the family was well into Web site construction, online researching and desktop publishing.

A year later, Jennifer's school was having career day and she suggested to a teacher that the ' ''lady reporter that made her family famous'' come and speak to her classmates. It wasn't a stretch since back in the day I often spoke officially and otherwise to young people about the virtue of reading the daily newspaper and the pursuit of journalism as a calling.

I spoke the usual that day to the students I met with, impressing upon them how important a job it is to get the facts and get it right, and edit and write well. Told them about my personal adventures in journalism and about the different types of journalism, opinion pieces, analysis, features, news reports, blah blah blah. The students were polite, as they often were, listening, even coming up with the obligatory follow-up questions, mostly to impress their teachers.

I went back to the newsroom and continued my important job. A few days later, a letter came. Yes, it was called "mail'' back in the day. I opened it and there was Jennifer's note. I laughed out loud and shared it with the colleagues, most of them fellow cynics, and I tacked it on the wall of my cubicle where it hung until years later when I said goodbye to the newspaper business.

I've always appreciated the honesty of youth. Jennifer's note, forgive the cliche, became the handwriting on the wall ("Even though no one really wanted to be a journalist...''). The sweet pat on the back was also a lesson in humility I always treasured.

Think I'll try and find her on Facebook.

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