(Originally Cont’d Oct. 3, 2009, as Angels Part IV, Angels Appear as Earthly Messengers)
What happened in Vietnam is another story, but my next Angel appeared as a burly Scottish neighbor of my parents, who had moved from the inner city of Philadelphia to one of its suburbs, Wayne, Pa. “What will you major in at college, Laddie?” the neighbor asked when I visited my folks advising them that I would be using their address to attend the Delaware County Community College. (I lived outside the county and would have had to pay double the amount if I didn’t fudge the location of my domicile.)
“I really don’t know,” I said.
Well, what did you study in high school?” he continued. “Printing”, I replied.
“You ought to look into journalism,” he said. “That’s a lot like printing, from what I hear.”
Well, the graphic part of journalism has its roots in printing, but I quickly learned that writing to meet a newspaper deadline was never one of Guttenberg’s special talents. I studied journalism, obtained a scholarship, and also a fellowship to work at the state capitol, where I wrote for then governor Milton J Shapp and provided the voice-over for television newscasts. My work as a newspaper reporter for the Pottstown Mercury earned several state awards and was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Thanks, my Scottish Angel. Who would have thunk it?
The whirlwind funnel continued upwards, turning and turning until it reached a dark corner of my meditation where I saw a free-lance writer whose work appeared in Playboy, Newsweek, and the New York Times. We were working on the same story together and he joined me in my Pottstown newsroom to file his story and use our phones. The journalist was 55 years old, but he looked closer to 70. He smoked too much, had wrinkles all over his face, and had evidently drank a bit because his hands shook when he held them forward to make a gesture.
I did not want to be like him when I turned 55.