You stay in one place long enough you’ll get a chance to put the chairs up on the tables and also turn out the lights. I always make it a point at those moments to make sure all the silverware is accounted for.
I’m working to find the time later this afternoon, in theory on my way home, but probably later than that, to stop by and say farewell to Ray Hackett, someone I could have known when each of us was in another life but we ended up meeting in this one in of all places, The Rose of New England, Norwich, Connecticut.
His employer, The Bulletin (nee The Norwich Bulletin) is hosting a do of sorts for him at Modesto’s in Franklin, through the early evening and I suspect he’ll only be allowed to attend if he’s turned in his column beforehand. The folks who manage the newspaper run a tight ship.
He has been the editorial page editor, I think at one time it was called the Community Conversations Editor, and held just about every position within the newspaper that you can have in a career that spans more than its share of years (yeah, I know some really old guys; got to do something about that).
Ray has been on a first name basis with the Governors and Senators and congressional representatives we’ve elected for longer than a lot of folks have been alive (really hope he’s not reading this or he may try to jab me with a toothpick this afternoon). If he doesn’t know a certain something about politics across this state and region it’s probably because whatever it is, it’s not true-otherwise he’s the encyclopedia.
He and I could have met, except for timing, never my strong suit, when we were both in the US Air Force working on opposite ends of the world and decade for the American Forces Radio and Television Service, AFRTS. But his luck was good and we didn’t but when it finally ran out close to twenty years ago in Norwich, he was a really good sport about it.
That, among other reasons, is why I’ll miss his notes and running into him, as opposed to over him, in downtown Norwich. He was instrumental in arranging for me to contribute my two cents every Wednesday to the print edition of The Bulletin-if you read it and it makes you angry, don’t blame Ray; instead blame a Literacy Volunteer.
I can’t imagine how often he’s had to explain to people at his newspaper how and why I hang around but he has and I’m grateful or should be. After tomorrow he trades in all those headaches and other pains for a more measured pace and different circumstances.
I don’t really know what he’ll do next but I know I’m already looking forward to it. Ray, with regards to mutual absent friends, best wishes as you turn the page and start with a fresh sheet.