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After 10 years, Allen Young’s last Inside/Outside column

  • Allen Young at Clubhouse Pond, Warwick. This photo by Paul Specht graces the cover of his latest book. —

  • Allen Young at Clubhouse Pond, Warwick. This photo by Paul Specht graces the cover of his latest book. —


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Finale Inside Outside

 

By Allen Young

It’s not often that I quote the Bible, but this verse from Ecclesiastes, made famous by Pete Seeger who set it to music, seems appropriate today:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted,” and so on.

Another verse comes to mind, a line from “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll: "’The time has come,’ the Walrus said, To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings.’"

Inside/Outside was defined by me, with the support of editor Deborrah Porter, to be a place where I could write about “many things,” and I have done that. This is my last Inside/Outside column, after writing more than 500 for the Athol Daily News starting in the summer of 2008.

I never wrote about kings or pigs, but I did write a few times about our current president who seems to forget that he is not a king and I did write about why I eat meat and cabbages grown on local farms.

I wrote about serious topics, sometimes injected humor and at times felt driven by pure emotion. Wiping away the tears one day in 2014, I wrote a column about the “inspiring heritage” of Pete Seeger, who had just died, and who had come here in the 1980s to sing in support of union members, so it is fitting for me to refer to the song he sang so beautifully.

The title of the column started with my intention to focus on environmental issues and the great outdoors, thus the word “outside,” but I added “inside” to allow me to deal with what goes on in public and private life in the community, and inside the hearts and minds of the good people of the North Quabbin Region, my adopted home since 1973.

Some of my favorite columns were included in two anthologies of my writing, both still in print and available in local stores, libraries and online. The titles are “Make Hay While the Sun Shines: Farms, Forests and People of the North Quabbin,” and “The Man Who Got Lost: North Quabbin Stories.”.

Human interest stories were among my favorites, and perhaps my number one in that category was entitled “Hikers Who Inspire” featuring the accomplishments of retired schoolteacher and cancer survivor Joann Deacon and the late Tom Harty. Hiking was a topic that I returned to often, starting with my praise for a new map of Athol’s Bearsden Woods published by Bobby Curley who soon thereafter launched the North Quabbin Trails Association.

There are many individuals in the creative arts that I featured because I marvel at their skills, and here are the names of some of them (in random order): Cathy Stanton, Fred Holmgren, Amy Fagin, Michael Humphries, Ruth Suyenaga, Shawn Patterson, Lynda Ruel Flynn, Gail Oswald, Rick Flemmati, Dale Monette, Dave Bargeron, Casey Williams, Tom Kellner, Susan Marshall, Sonja Vaccari, Brian Gelinas, Nicol Wander, Tom Wyatt, Jerry Chaisson and Ethan Stone.

I wrote news-related tributes to a banker (Dan Zona), a sheriff (Chris Donelan), a senator (Stan Rosenberg), two educators (Susan O’Reilly McCrae and Julie Stanley), a beekeeper (Peter Niemi), a dental hygienist (Lynn Trinque), a court official (Laurie Dornig), a contractor (Jason Lefsyk), a veterinarian (Sue Ellen Mowcomber), and a truck driver/assessor (Jim Richardson.

Controversy came with such topics as same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, and physician-assisted suicide. I pat myself on the back for being the first journalist in the region to sound alarms about heroin addiction, a plan to build an invasive pipeline and the often hidden horror of suicide.

I wrote about people and their animals, including Laurie Neeley and her mule, Stephanie and John McClure with their many cats, and Scherrie Edwards and Lynnette Goodnow with their horses.

I’ve recognized the accomplishments of people who are deceased including a skier (Drew Judycki), a writer/educator (John Casella), and a water color artist (Barbara Ellis).

I’ve  made a few errors in some of my columns, but am confident they were very infrequent because I was trained by my parents as well as my professors at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to strive for excellence. My longtime friend Katya Taylor of Tallahassee, Florida, who “tweaks” my column before publication, catches some potential errors and I thank  her for that. There are a couple of columns that I probably should never have written, or should have composed with more sensitivity, but on the whole, I’m proud of Inside/Outside and proud of the profession of journalism which we all must defend in the Trump era as a bastion of our democratic way of life.

I’m aging, now 77, but I’m not leaving my woodland home in Royalston, am grateful for having reasonably good health, and I might find an opportunity to write occasionally for publication in the future. After all, I’ve been seeing my by-line in print since I was in high school, and I know I’m going to miss that unique affirmation of myself. But it’s time to say good-bye to this column, and to thank the newspaper and the readers for their part. If you want to know more about me and my ideas, you can find my autobiography, “Left, Gay & Green: A Writer’s Life,” in several area stores, local libraries and at amazon.com. My email is ay114@columbia.edu.

 

 


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