A path not taken


Stone Hall 2009Stone Hall, University of Montana

Only the guilty and gawkers return to the scene of the crime, right?

After much contemplation, it is this rationale I will employ for opting out of my journalism school’s Centennial celebration later this month. Of course that’s not the real reasoI fear that the commemoration of one of the greatest experiences of my life won’t measure up to memories that have been gathering cobwebs for over 40 years…

  • Influential professors, like Bob McGiffert, Charlie Brown, and Nathan Blumberg have passed on.
  • The Holy Grail of my memory bank—the old musty J-School building—has been replaced, no longer to serve as a receptacle for recollections of the times, events, friends, perceived successes, missed opportunities, laughter, and tears of that formative experience.
  • I would have little in common to discuss with my contemporaries of that heady era.

Deep down, however, I know these rationalizations only mask the real basis of my trepidation.

Schooled in the best traditions and standards, swathed in hubris, and driven by youthful fervor, I left Missoula 43 years ago wanting to earn my place among the likes of A. B. Guthrie, Charles Johnson, Don Oliver, Dorothy Powers, Jeannette Rankin, David Rorvik, and my old friend and roommate James Grady.  The career choices I made along the way, however, never put me on that path, so I lost my yardstick.

Despite my absence from the celebration and the conscious cop-out I made then and now, I am forever grateful for the education, the experience, and—if only momentarily—the opportunity to envision myself standing among some of the nation’s finest journalists and writers.


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