Thanks for the memories

By Veronica Hamlett

Upon first meeting, most people ask me, “Veronica, how much does it cost to place a garage sale in the paper?” To which I reply, “$8.” From then on, we are good friends.
Once people have ordered their classified ads, they then ask me, “Veronica, how does someone as charming and bright such as yourself wind up working in Pilot Point?”
Well, here’s how.
The Pilot Point Post-Signal is my first post-collegiate job. I decided very early in life that I wanted to eat nothing but ramen noodles and go without heat during the winters. I could think of no better way to accomplish my goal in life than by becoming a journalist, except perhaps heavy drinking.
Since December 2008, I have been That Girl you see with the camera lurking around the sidelines of high school athletic events and butchering children’s names in print. For better or worse, I have loved every minute of it.
Now, as you may have heard, I find myself leaving Pilot Point for a land with lobster-flavored ramen.
There are two groups of readers at this point — those who are using the paper to wipe away their tears, and those that are using the paper to plan a celebration.
Every journalist is prone to making mistakes in print. When errors do slip past our eyes for the world to read, they are met with anger and frustration, by the author and the reader. I’ll never forget the grandmother who demanded that her granddaughter’s name be run in “giant, bold letters,” in the next issue when her name was accidentally omitted. My eardrums have yet to recover. But we were in the wrong, whether you say it politely or not. After that incident, my dad suggested I have business cards printed with the slogan: “Often Wrong, Never in Doubt.”
On the flip side, I’ve had the chance to write about some extraordinary people and topics. State championship football, an historic cemetery, cancer survivors, Sebastian the camel — all remarkable (yup, even Sebastian). I consider myself extremely privileged to be trusted with people’s personal lives and then share them in the paper.
Perhaps my favorite assignment ever, though, was one of my first in December 2008. I was sent to the home of Jim and Margie DiTripani, an elderly couple who had moved to Pilot Point from the Bronx. The three three wise men had been stolen from their Nativity scene. Baby Jesus was left in his manger, thank goodness.
Shortly after the story broke, the figurines were returned unharmed to the DiTripanis’ yard, and we ran another article about their safe return. It was a Christmas miracle! Christmas was saved! No, I saved Christmas! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be saving religious figures and holidays with my writing.
The point I’m taking too long to make is that you don’t have to be the New York Times to print stuff that matters. Lots of journalists say they get into the business hoping to change the world. Most never do. You want to really affect change? Work for a community newspaper. The response is awe-inspiring.
Thank you so, so much to every coach, parent and reader who kept me up to speed, informed and in my place. I could write an entirely separate editorial with a list of people’s names, but instead I’ll just say that this job would have been impossible without so many others’ help. I mean that 100 percent.
Best of luck to Aubrey and Pilot Point in the upcoming school year. Class 3A’s tough, but these kids are tougher. That refuse-to-lose attitude will serve them well beyond high school.
So, farewell 377 corridor. Trust me when I say it’s not you, it’s me. Remember the good times, let go of the bad times, and don’t forget to call once in a while.

Veronica Hamlett covered sports for The Post-Signal for almost three years. To protest her departure and convince David Lewis to offer her a substantial raise to stay, email editor@postsignal.com.