MADISON COUNTY —
When announcing my retirement, I made reference to letting “Trouble” having one last ride.
Many of you may not remember Trouble. I will briefly explain.
When I started writing columns causing trouble, I would get teased about being a trouble maker; “Trouble” was quickly becoming my nickname.
In a column about the 2006 general election, I created a fictional horse named Trouble and had a conversation with him about the upcoming election.
Shortly after that, Emily Jarosz, a dear friend of mine gave him life. She presented me with a replica of what Trouble would look like. It is only fitting that Trouble appears for his final ride.
Please keep in mind parts of this conversation are fictional as you will see. I wanted my final column as publisher to be fun, but also to have meaning.
I hope you enjoy Trouble’s farewell as much as I did writing it. And if some of you get a little ticked at me … get over it, because that’s just how it is!
Today is my last day (and it really is), and I’m just reflecting on my career when Trouble appears.
“Trouble,” I ask, “Where have you been?” Trouble replies, “What do you mean, Mr. Publisher? It’s your fault that I haven’t been around much. And now I hear you are retiring. I was just getting started, and you pull the rug right out from underneath me; some friend you are.”
“Trouble,” I reply, “Don’t get yourself all worked up. We’ve had a great ride; we’ve accomplished a lot. Never thought when I arrived in Richmond that I would end my newspaper career here. Never thought I would retire here as well. Never thought I would create you of all things. I’m sure people thought I was crazy when I did that.”
Trouble gives me a big grin and says, “Mr. Publisher, you are crazy, but a good crazy. Thank you for letting me be part of your journey. You will be missed.
I notice tears in his eyes, “Trouble,” I said, “Don’t get all emotional on me. We both know it’s time for me to smell the roses; you can just do whatever retired horses do.”
I knew that would get a big smile out of him, but the smile fades fast.
He says, “But it’s over; nobody will ever remember us.”
More tears appear and I say, “Get a hold of yourself. We’ve got too much to be proud of for you to be carrying on like that; besides horses don’t cry. I doubt this community will forget what we’ve done. I’ve been told many times that we did this community a great service, and we probably don’t fully comprehend the significance of that.”
Trouble just rolls his eyes at me and I continue explaining.
“Then there was this guy at a chamber function that wanted to meet ‘the publisher who took down the city government single handed.’ So, Trouble I believe we will be remembered. We can leave with our heads held high and proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
The tears subside, and once again he’s smiling and says, “I feel much better, but there are individuals that felt we had an agenda.”
“Trouble,” I responded, “The only agenda we had was to make the Richmond Register a public watchdog; to make this newspaper relevant again. We did that. It was our time to shine. We were meant to be here, but it’s also our time to move on.”
Trouble just grins and neighs, but I can still see a little sadness on his face. I’m wondering what would possibly cheer him up on this bittersweet occasion.
So, I said, “Trouble, what about one final ride down Main Street?”
That gets him smiling again and he says, “I thought you would never ask. Hop on old man.”
I replied, “Watch what you say, it just may end up in one of my columns.”
He just ignores me and motions me to saddle up.
I’m ready to mount Trouble when I notice the special saddle on him. It is Kelly green trimmed in maroon and white. That meant this final ride was very special. I hop on and whisper in his ear. His ears perk up and shakes his head up and down. I tell him to keep it a secret.
We begin making our way downtown and citizens are lined up on each side of the street like a parade. I say to Trouble, “See, we won’t be forgotten.”
He just grins and I continue, “I can’t believe Wallingford Broadcasting is doing a remote for us. What’s Kelly Wallingford extending a microphone to us for?” Trouble just grins and neighs.
We continue on down Main Street and see the Madison County Tax Watch group holding up signs that read “Thank You” and “We will miss you.” Trouble tells them to keep the pedal to the metal, they are making a difference in many ways.
Next on the parade route are Mendi Goble and David Rowelette from the chambers of commerce. We wonder what they are signing. It seems very serious.
Across the street are Chuck Fields and Greg Ferrell from the Paddy Wagon. Looks like they are holding up a green beer for us. Greg is wearing his Marshall Green, while Chuck is in Colonel maroon. What a fitting tribute. Maybe one day the green and maroon will meet on the gridiron again once EKU sheds the OVC.
I notice tears of joy on Trouble’s face as we continue, but I know he is just soaking in all this glory.
This time Trouble says to me, “I can’t believe my eyes. Do you see what I see?” I reply, “I do.”
We both see former EKU President Joanne Glasser, outgoing President Doug Whitlock and incoming President Michael Benson standing at the end of the Colonel Walk. They are all waving Colonel flags and shouting GO COLONELS.
That’s how it should be, and this community needs to get on board.
I tell Trouble, “Never would have expected that.” Trouble just neighs and says, “What is Marc Whitt all fidgety about?” I respond, “That’s the Glasser affect.”
Trouble just grins and we continue, but I’m startled and say, “Hold on Trouble, here comes Debra Hoskins and Skip Daughtery walking side by side and laughing. Looks like they made up.”
Trouble just rolls his eyes; shakes his head back and forth and says, “Ain’t never gonna happen, Mr. Publisher, it was a nasty breakup.”
This time I roll my eyes and tell him to move on like everybody else should.
We continue down the parade route and I tell Trouble, “Now, look across the street on the steps of the courthouse. Wow, there is Judge/Executive Kent Clark, Phil Seyfrit and Berea Mayor Steve Connelly all dressed in their respective civil war uniforms. They are standing at attention and saluting us. Wonder what they are cooking up these days, could it be…?
Trouble says, “Who is that other fellow standing all alone in front of them trying to get our attention?”
I reply, “Some rebel outcast named Billy Ray Hughes.” Trouble responds, “Oh yeah, I heard he is a real trouble maker in his own right, but he will never top you.”
“Now,” I said, “Look over towards the steps of City Hall, there is Mayor Jimmy Barnes and City Manager Jimmy Howard giving us two thumbs up. Is that the key to the city Mayor Barnes is holding?” Trouble responds, “Sure looks like it. It’s real shiny, is that real gold?”
“Get real,” I reply, “It’s plastic. The city is in better shape; they’ve done a great job, but unfortunately not well enough to give us a solid-gold key. It’s not that we don’t deserve it; we do.”
I can see that Trouble is disappointed and starts to pout, and I respond, “Better than nothing my friend, so get over it because that’s just how it is!”
We are now approaching the Bennett House where the parade route ends.
Rita Smart is chilling out with some afternoon tea and waving frantically to get our attention.
I say to Trouble, “See, all the big guns came out just for you.” Trouble gives me a big grin and neighs; he is finally happy.
Trouble says to me, “Who is sipping tea with Rita?” I respond, “That’s Ed Worley.”
Trouble gives a big neigh and replies, “We grilled him a few times didn’t we.” I quickly reply, “Yes we did and it was fun; he was well done when we got finished.”
Once again Trouble grins, but makes an abrupt stop, takes a bow and then says, “OK, Mr. Publisher, it’s time to git’er done! Let’s really give them something to talk about.”
We turn around and head back down Main Street one last time.
Trouble begins singing an all too familiar song, but one that is very much appropriate on this bittersweet day.
Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then. Some trails are happy, some are blue. It’s not the way you ride that counts. It only matters that you do. Happy Trails to you until we meet again … and that’s just how it is!