As many of you know, I spent the first few years of my life in Easley. My dad was the managing editor at The Easley Progress and my mom taught class at McKissick Elementary.
They loved this community and they taught me to love it as well. I remember going to Joe’s Ice Cream as a kid. Joe Lesley would serve our family dinner and deliver a plate of cut-up hot dogs to our table, complying with my picky eating requests.
I remember attending local baseball games, going to services at the First Baptist Church and riding along in the car as my father chased police cars in search of the next news story. My birth announcement was printed in The Easley Progress, an article my parents still keep safely nestled in my baby book.
That’s why, when I was hired as a reporter here two years ago, I was excited to reacquaint myself with some familiar faces.
About a month after I began working in downtown Easley, I walked to Joe’s to get a bite to eat. Before I went, I knew there was a possibility a few folks might remember me. I knew if I told them who I was I would get friendly smiles and questions about my family.
What I didn’t expect was what actually happened.
As I walked through the front doors, I heard a loud “Hey, boy!” The friendly greeting came from Joe, who was standing behind the grill smiling, as if he hadn’t moved since the 1990s. I hesitated for a second before shooting him a smile and a wave, proceeding to catch up with old friends over a couple of hot dogs (not cut up this time).
It was like nobody ever missed a beat. They knew who I was. They were thrilled to see me. It was as if I had never left.
That’s what Easley means to me. When I think of home, I will always have to include a little part of this town.
This will be my last column for The Easley Progress. After two busy years of writing, stressing over deadlines, bugging cops, sitting through meetings, learning, working long hours and building relationships, I’ve realized it’s time to move on.
For some of you, this might be welcome news. I know not everything I’ve done has been perfect over the last two years, but my heart was in every assignment and I still believe our papers are the best source for local news you can find.
I’ve learned from the compliments as well as the critiques, and I sincerely want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my articles. It means more than you know.
I also want to thank the folks that have made my job easier more times than I can count. The strong bonds I’ve formed with civic leaders, high school coaches, folks in the community, law enforcement personnel and many more will not soon be forgotten. You guys make The Easley Progress what it is.
Lastly, I want to thank my co-workers. Our general manager and editor Lonnie Adamson gave me my first shot to work in a newsroom coming out of college. I’ve learned a lot from him, and I will always owe him a debt of gratitude. Our other reporter, Joe Toppe, has always done a great job and has always been a good source for conversation in the office.
I will certainly miss our office manager, Rhonda Youngblood. That woman does it all and is the heart and soul of our small town paper in so many ways. Thank you, Rhonda.
I also want to make sure I thank our sales team. Chris, David and Al have brought life to a department that hasn’t always had stability since my start here. You guys are awesome and deserve a ton of credit.
It has been an honor and a privilege to work for the people of this county, and I hope you will continue reading this great source for local news. Thank you.