By David Waters, The Commercial Appeal
This is my final column for The Commercial Appeal. I’m taking an “early retirement opportunity” offer from the company that owns this storied and stoic newspaper. Feb. 15 will be my last day at 495 Union. Leaving will not be easy. This newsroom has been my classroom, press club, civic chapel and home away from home since I started working here as a copy clerk in 1980.
I was 21 and a junior at Memphis State University when I first walked into this holy place. I spent the next two years embedded in a bustling, big-city newsroom, fetching cups of coffee and cigarettes for hustling reporters, retrieving files and photographs for cranky editors, compiling obituaries, and wondering if I’d ever have the mettle and gumption to be a daily newspaper journalist.
Turns out, all I needed was a bit of desperation. A month after I graduated, my wife, Robin, found out she was pregnant with our first child. I had a new deadline. Within days, I started my next job as a reporter in The Commercial Appeal’s Jackson, Tennessee, bureau. I had no idea how to be a father or a newspaper reporter.