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Time flies when you're having pork

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I started working for the newspaper. Other reporters have come and gone, editors, too, but I’m still here.

Back in the summer of 1995, I was thinking about finding a part-time job to supplement our farm income. I noticed an ad in the Marion County Record (Aug. 23, 1995) for a part-time job as a typist, with the added requirements of being able to interview people and have good spelling skills. I thought, “I could do that.”

I had no idea when I sent my resume to Box B, Marion County Record, Marion KS that I was applying for a newspaper job. When Bill Meyer interviewed me and told me he was looking for a reporter, my heart dropped to my toes. After all, I had been a stay-at-home mom for 27 years. How could I possibly step out into the public sphere just like that?

Seeing my shock and hesitation, Bill urged me to try it. He assigned me to cover the Tampa Hog Roast. He liked my report, and I’m still here 20 years later.

I am thankful that Bill gave me this opportunity to use my creative writing skills. I enjoy interviewing people, collecting material, and condensing it into a readable story. I have met many people I otherwise would not know.

Covering Centre school district has kept me in touch with youngsters as they proceed through the system. Some are the descendants of students I taught as an English teacher in 1967-68.

I’m somewhat intimidated by the young reporters around me, who seem to have a more educated style of writing, but I suppose I’ll keep at it as long as they let me.

Going back to Tampa Saturday, I found that a few things had changed from 20 years ago.

The late Ed Costello was no longer there. Food was served by bank employees instead of community church women, although some of them were on hand to assist.

Back then, Novak Farms provided five hogs that were roasted by Lonnie Nickel. This year and in more recent years, the pork has come from Carlsons’ Grocery in Marion. Some items came from Tampa Trail Stop.

Twenty years ago, enough food was prepared to feed 700 people. About 450 were expected this year.

“This is about as close as we’ve come to the numbers,” Chris Costello said. “We ran out of plates and spoons and ran low on beans.”

Straw bales and wood planks were missing from the street in front of the bandstand.

“That was a lot of work,” Costello explained. “We’ve streamlined things.”

Instead of the Cactus Jack Band, Justus Band provided musical entertainment.

Donahue Corporation, now owned by Doug Kjellin of Marion, provided the flatbed trailer, as usual.

Costello said the event has seen only one bad-weather day in its 30 years of existence. It rained all day, and food was served in the fire station. However, it stopped raining at 6 p.m., so everyone could enjoy the band and street dance.

“We enjoy doing it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

— Rowena Plett

Last modified Sept. 2, 2015

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