The Last Windrow: Thanks for the memories during time as chamber director

PineandLakes Echo Journal file photo

To echo the phrase from a popular pawn shop show, "You never know what walks in the door!"

That's been my job experience over the past 20 years. A job that I retired from last week.

I find it a bit interesting that a kid who was raised wild on a farm and filled the days with solo type work would end his full-time working career dealing with the public at large. But, that is what happened.

Through the transitions of life, I have journeyed into employment that dealt with dealing with human beings. Thousands and thousands of human beings, each with his or her own personality. Mostly positive folk, but there were a few "clinkers" in the bunch as well.

For the past 20 years I've been privileged to have served as a director of the chamber of commerce for a small community. Preceding that position I and my wife owned and operated a full line department store for 30 years. Prior to that I managed a bait and tackle store for a number of years.


Every one of these places provided ample opportunity to mix with the public. Most of those interactions were positive, but some left me scratching my now thinning hair.

My most recent stint as chamber director was a pleasure. Like farm life, every day was a new day. One never knew who would be walking in the door. Every age was represented and just about every continent around the world somehow found a representative who strode through the doors of that place.

I heard dialects from England, Germany, Japan, China, Australia, Argentina, Sweden, Russia, France and more. And, I'd venture to say every state in the union plus every providence of Canada. I even had one gentleman introduce himself one day and his address was Antarctica. He told me his mail delivery was very erratic.

A chamber of commerce information center's main goal is to provide area information for both business and the traveling public. One of the more popular requests came from those seeking cemeteries, of all things. People are tending to seek more and more information about their past. We have numerous cemeteries located within driving distance of our community. Some of them are large and easy to find, and some of them are township cemeteries that are hidden among the trees and hills of the countryside.

It has been a history lesson for me to hear the questions and comments from those seeking to find a long lost relative or friend.

My chamber directorship also involved helping to manage or be a part of a number of community events and attractions. I've kissed the butt of a pig, directed an Army band, flew upside down in a Stearman biplane, fried pancakes, planted trees, made a speech on Veterans Day, spoke a lay church sermon, judged a talent contest and tried my best to get our annual parade in line without making enemies.

I've shot a shotgun to launch a duck race and a 5K race. I and a couple of other friends were in charge of the infamous "Pine River Bucks" program, which went down in flames. Oh well - some you win, some you don't.

And so I leave this post with many great experiences behind me. I've totally enjoyed having met so many great people and I've seen what a small community can do when they work together for the good of all. Yes, there have been some disappointments, but just like those early farm days, sometimes the corn doesn't come up like it should. But, then you replant and a crop fills the crib.


My replacement will do a great job I'm sure, and that feels good to me.

I will continue to write this column as long as my newspapers will have me. I do appreciate all the positive comments I've received over the years from those who have read this piece. It means a lot to hear or read those comments.

Thanks for the memories. And see you next time. Okay?

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