Saturday Single No. 119

Originally posted March 14, 2009

As readers might have guessed – and I may have even said so directly – one of the formative experiences of my life was the nearly six years I spent as a reporter and news editor at the Monticello Times, a weekly newspaper based in a small river town just thirty miles from St. Cloud. (The city’s population was about 3,000 when I arrived in town in 1977; now, says Wikipedia, it’s about 11,000.) It was my first real job after college, and I learned more there about reporting and community journalism than I’d ever dreamed I could know.

(And that’s the way things should be: A college or university degree is, to me, kind of a combination starter pack and tool kit, something that hopefully ensures you won’t be an utter fool when you get your first job. That first job is where you start to learn your craft, start to learn how to use those tools you brought with you from college.)

I worked at Monticello with a group of top-notch people, both professionally and personally. That’s why – more than twenty-five years after I left the newspaper to go to graduate school – I stay in relatively close contact with the Times’ family: my former editor and publisher, DQ, and his family; my coworkers from the late 1970s and early 1980s; and those who came to work at the Times after I was gone. From time to time in the last ten years, emails have circulated through the group, keeping us all up to date with the doings of about forty people scattered throughout the U.S. (and sometimes overseas).

The most recent mass whirling of emails came yesterday morning, and somewhere in the string of emails, someone – I think it was DQ – suggested that it might be easier if we had a central place to share news, maybe a blog or something at Facebook.

I had the time and a Facebook account. And fifteen minutes later – using my real-world account instead of the one I use for this blog – there was a group for Monticello Times Alumni. As I write this a day later, twenty-one people have joined. It should be a good way for us all to keep track of the doings in each other’s lives.

To me, the fact that we all want to keep track of each other is a remarkable thing. I’ve had no other job that inspires that kind of connectedness. In fact, the only other experience I’ve had that’s forged similar bonds was the college year I spent in Denmark. As I wrote to one of the other Times alumni, “The truth for me . . . is: I’ve gone to two high school reunions, but not since 1991, and I don’t care if I ever go to another. But there are two reunions I’ll miss only if I’m on my deathbed: my college Denmark group and the Monticello Times.”

I’m not planning that deathwatch anytime soon. And it would be nice if we Monticello folks could find a time to gather together face-to-face. (This summer should bring a reunion of the other group, my Denmark comrades, as we mark thirty-five years since returning home.) But if we can’t get together in person, at least we can keep up with each other a little easier now.

With that, I looked for songs with the word “face” in their titles. And I dug into the catalog of Little John, an obscure San Francisco band of the early 1970s. (My thanks to Leonard at Redtelephone66.) Similar to Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, Little John released two pretty good albums, Up and Down in 1970 and Little John in 1971. So here’s an aptly titled tune from the group’s second album, today’s Saturday Single.

“Turn Your Face To A Smile” by Little John from Little John [1971]

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