Today’s Ramblin’ Man is written by my equally vocal daughter, Laura. She’s been a subject of this column on many occasions over the years, but since having children, she doesn’t make as many stories these days. You might know her better as Ben and Adam’s mom. After much pestering, she’s gone ahead and written her own column this week and more or less demanded it be printed.
The Ramblin’ Man column first hit print in 1994. I was the ripe old age of 2 at the time so while I was around, I can’t tell you much about those early days. What I can tell you is that a 90s keyboard sounds much louder than the keyboards of today. Occasionally, I can still hear the loud and fast clicking of the keys in my dreams after so much of my growing up involved my father up late on deadline, finishing a story.
I can tell you with great detail the exact smell of newspaper print. I can recall watching large printing presses print, fold and wrap those yellow bands around hundreds of papers. I can tell you all about growing up with the police scanner handy and my dad jumping into his car to follow sirens for a story. I don’t know many other children who went to nearly every city council meeting and begged to keep the radio on all night just to listen to local election results.
My childhood was filled with the glorious sounds, smells and wonders of news. News today doesn’t look much like what it did then, at least not on most large scales. Looking over my dad’s career and the expertise he has brought to everything he has worked on fills me with pride and appreciation for what newspapers were and still are in a time where news literacy almost feels extinct.
My dad has won more awards than I could count. He’s taken every necessary stride to be the very best he could be in his profession. A quote I think of often from Abraham Lincoln, someone my dad and I both admire, is “whatever you are, be a good one.” My dad exemplifies this in his work and passed this work ethic to me. Something I will always be grateful for.
When looking at the awards and accolades my father has earned over his long and successful career, there is no lack in variety. There are awards in photography, in general excellence, in serious topics and his news coverage has made national headlines. He has been recognized by other experts in his field on countless occasions and contributed significantly to the betterment of the communities he’s worked in, the state of Illinois and our nation as a whole. Maybe my pride in his accomplishments pales in comparison to all the recognition he’s received, but he does still keep the No. 1 Dad award on his desk that I gave him in second grade so that must mean something.
Most recently, my dad was recognized for one of his Ramblin’ Man columns by the National Newspaper Association in the Best Humor category, the only entry from Illinois to place first in any category. I have cheered for my dad in so many of his successes, but I’ve got to ask one favor on this one-you’ve all got to stop telling him he’s funny.
You can’t possibly know the onslaught of “dad jokes” I’ve endured since birth and your encouragement isn’t helping my case. You’ve inflated his humor ego and there’s only so much forced laughter I can pull off between his puns and my 5-year-old’s attempts at jokes of his own creation that either make no sense at all or make so much sense they’re just factual, not all that funny. When you encourage my dad, he encourages my son and suddenly I’m caught in a whirlwind of silliness I can’t keep up with.
In all truth, my goal in sharing this with you all is a sincere hope that I can shed light onto the incredible asset my father has been in his contribution to the media community. As much as his dad jokes can get tiring, he is genuinely clever and witty in his writings. He can make you feel like you’re in the room, just listening to him tell you a story, laughing alongside him.
He has a gift that he has shared with us all for most all of his life and I’m thankful to have watched so much of that from behind the scenes, my own journalist notepad out and ready to write. To my dad, thank you for letting me write my own comics and stories, reading them with such enthusiasm. Thank you for showing me that silly putty can pull newsprint off a page. And thank you for showing me the importance of the local paper to communities all across the world.
© Copyright 2020 by Laura Kuhl. Did you notice how I called his career “long and successful?” That’s just code for calling him old. Another lesson he taught me: Sometimes you’ve got to trade nice for funny.