Last updated: July 31. 2014 3:40PM - 298 Views

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We all have had conversations with our teenagers who are college bound.

So what are you going to do with that degree in Comic Book Art?

Is there a demand for basket weavers in today’s economy? I didn’t know you could major in that subject…

Adventures in studies is a part of the rite of passage.

I had planned to major in music but my mother talked me out of that. Frankly, I am glad she did. I started with a double major in Communications and Electronics. I ended up with a degree in Radio and Television with a minor in Journalism.

Those areas of studies have done pretty well for me. I’ve had a 30 year-plus career in communications.

There was one class that made a big difference for me in addition to those courses of study. In college they try to give you a rounded education with classes in many different subjects. You have English classes, math classes, even Physical Education classes. For my PE classes I took tennis, racquetball and golf. I always wanted to learn how to play golf (the class didn’t help).

I needed an art class.

In high school I stayed away from art class. I couldn’t draw, and I had no interest in that stuff. I spent most of my time in the band room.

So I looked at the class schedule. Photography 101, that sounded like something I could do. To sum up Photo 101, you simply took a roll film, learned to develop it in the dark room and make a print. Now remember this is more than 30 years ago. You never heard the word digital used unless it was a cheap watch or something.

I got a B in the class.

In the early 1980s this country was mired in a deep recession. It was hard to find a job after graduation.

My first job was not what I planned, but my background in sports landed me a position as sports writer/assistant circulation manager at a weekly newspaper. The assistant circulation part was not something I cherished. We had young carriers and when little Johnny didn’t deliver, the circulation manager called on the assistant to see that they were delivered. It didn’t happen a lot, but enough for me to decide I wanted to concentrate on news. After all, that’s what I went to school to do.

So after a year I applied for a position as sports editor in another county. Like most small papers you have another job to keep you busy. This job required that you develop everyone’s film, plus you had to print your own photos. Turns out that little art class got me the job. I souped a lot of film in two years, so when I became the editor of my first newspaper I was glad to leave that behind.

My wife and I started a family and shortly after the birth of our second child we decided to leave the big city and move back to southern Ohio. I was from Portsmouth, and she was from Ironton. So from Maysville, Ky, to Gallipolis on the Ohio River I applied for jobs. I landed a job as editor of The Gallipolis Daily Tribune. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well for her. She kept telling her company she wanted to transfer to the power plants along the Ohio River. Frustrated she went in to quit, they said, “You were serious? We didn’t believe you.” So they transferred her. That put her in Aberdeen and me in Gallipolis.

Well that wasn’t going to work.

So I left my job in Gallipolis in hopes of working further down river.

My hometown newspaper, The Portsmouth Times, was a fairly large operation. Most of the folks in the newsroom had been there a while and weren’t leaving soon. The only opening they had was staff photographer.

So the interview went something like this.

You know how to take photos? Yep.

Can you develop film? Yes, I can.

Can you print photos? Of course I can, I had a class in that and worked two years in the darkroom.

They didn’t hire me right away. They had to think about it, but I got the job.

Just one little art class, opened two very big doors for me.

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