I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, most likely because I have to manage a corporate Facebook page as part of my job (along with other social media). I do like seeing what friends are up to, and I “like” several pages related to writing and poetry and check those on a regular basis.
Everyone has a “reconnect” Facebook story. Last year I had a surprise friend request from my best friend in junior high – someone I hadn’t seen since high school. We actually were able to talk on the telephone, and it was great fun to remember life at 12 and 13 years old (and he remembered things I had long ago forgotten about, like riding the bus into downtown New Orleans for a movie, and where we went biking).
This past week, a friend request arrived, and I looked at the name and said “It couldn’t be.” But it was. The guy who was a copy boy at the Beaumont, Texas, Enterprise in 1973 had sent the request.
Something like this happens, and you move back 40 years in time. It was the summer of 1973, and my first job out of college. I was all of 21, engaged to be married, and working as a brand new copy editor. The copy boy, John Sniffen by name, took photographs; I believe he was taking a photojournalism course at the local university.
And there we are, again, a group of editors, mostly young, working on the publication of three editions of a newspaper in a small town in Texas. I remember the names of my colleagues. This photo would most likely have been taken in June because of where I’m sitting – the spot designated for whomever was the new kid on the block. Because staff turnover tended to be high, with three months I would occasionally sit in the position at the far left – assistant slot man. Three months was all it took to go from newbie to No. 2 on the copy desk.
It was an exciting time to be in journalism – the Watergate scandal was unfolding; Vice President Agnew would resign that fall; and the Yom Kippur War broke out in October, ushering in the first oil embargo the United States had experienced. The world changed forever in those few months.
After we were married that August, my wife also worked here as a copy editor.
Another interesting (for me) part of this is that we reconnected because we have a mutual friend. John is a member of the same church as Marcus Goodyear, editor of The High Calling.
A Facebook friend request, a photograph – and suddenly you’re reminded that you were young, once.
Everyone is young, once.
Photograph by John Sniffen, summer 1973, Beaumont, Texas, Enterprise copy desk.