NORMAN — From time to time I enjoy reliving the measly beginnings of my journalism career.
I was one of the lucky ones and had a job before I even graduated from college. My first assignment was at the Bartlesville newspaper. Bartlesville, although a wonderful community, was a far cry from the rowdy town of Stillwater. But I knew if I didn’t go to Bartlesville, I would be forced to return home to live with my parents. Which just boils down to social suicide at the ripe old age of 23.
My beat at the time was all things county related. That meant the exciting world of crime, courts and cows. I don’t know if the ink was even dry on my diploma before I was reporting to work the first of June. By the time March rolled around, I really felt comfortable sitting in the courtroom rubbing elbows with attorneys, judges and the ever so important bail bondsman. I felt comfortable sitting in the sheriff’s office and was proud that I had won the sheriff over with my charm. Yes, I was feeling pretty good about my career choice. That is until March.
It was cold and raining on the day my editor told me he wanted me to go home, change out of my skirt and fancy shoes and put on a pair of jeans and boots to go cover the junior livestock show. Then he asked if I even owned a pair of jeans or boots. I was hoping that if I lied and said I didn’t, he’d reassign the job to another reporter. No luck.
I grew up in the country, but it was what I call city slicker country. We didn’t raise livestock and neither did our neighbors. The only time I had any encounter with a cow was on that popular toddler toy where you pull a string and a voice says “A cow goes moo.” Same goes for pigs and goats.
But something happened while I was walking around the county fairgrounds immersed in the knowledge of livestock, I realized how hard all of those kids work. They get up early in the morning before school to take care of an animal. They brush, wash and feed. They do it without complaining and without all the fanfare as their fellow peers who play sports. They know there stuff, too. And they can also spot a scared reporter who has no idea there’s different varieties of swine.
I survived that first livestock show and I couldn’t wait to go back to the next one. I’d also made my editor happy. Which is always a good thing. And, I don’t remember her name, but I certainly do appreciate the little girl who helped me spell duroc for the first time. To her, I’m eternally grateful.