I have not yet packed my belongings into a cardboard box or investigated the procedure for turning over the security card that allows me to bypass the strip search before entering the Herald & Review newsroom.
That’s next week.
So until they make me promise to never again use the secret handshake, surrender my e-mail address or ask about the missing pair of scissors I stole from Jean Zerfowski’s desk about six years ago, I’m going to keep on writing.
Many people write a farewell column when they retire. Leave it me to write 10 of them. Make it 11, if you count this one.
The thing is, after 44 years in one way or another chronicling sports in Central Illinois for the Herald & Review, there’s so much to be thankful for. There are so many people to recall, stories to tell and anecdotes to share. So starting Saturday, May 5, I’m going to revisit the sports or areas of interest I covered most often.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride, occasionally saying, “Oh, yeah, I remember that.”
The first of those columns will be a look at many years spent trying to cover the outdoors. Yep, that includes fishing, hunting and all kinds of artistry that inspires lovers of the great outdoors.
I left it out of the column that will run Saturday, but believe me, I could do an entire recap of the time former Sports Editor Bob Fallstrom sent me to Flora to write about the World Coon Hunt.
The only thing I knew was that I needed a great deal of help and ended up leaning on someone I was told was an expert, a stand-up comedian named Jerry Clower, who was better known as “The Mouth of Mississippi.”
I thought Jerry had the inside track on using dogs to hunt raccoons. Boy, was I wrong. When I got done with Jerry, I was so confused I couldn’t remember which one ended up in the tree — the dog or the coon. Might as well have been me.
Anyhow, over these next five weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) I will also have columns on the fun times covering fastpitch softball, auto racing, golf, Millikin University, high school sports, Illini football, Illini basketball and the most memorable events I was privileged to cover over the past 44 years.
Finally, on Sunday, June 3, I’ll sign off.
Or will I?
Since announcing I would retire as Executive Sports Editor of the Herald & Review, that’s one of the questions you’ve been asking. (Another is: Can I have that cool video monitor you plug your laptop into?)
Will you keep writing? Will you stay in touch with Central Illinois?
The answer is yes, although like retirement itself, I have yet to figure out exactly how that works.
It’s hard to worry about Illini basketball recruit Samba Kane or coach Lovie Smith’s beard when I’m busy fretting about the various parts of Medicare, a secondary insurance plan and if it’s really true that I can now wander into the garden and water the daylilies any damn time of the day or night.
I had a dentist appointment Tuesday and they wanted to schedule the next appointment. “Are you free on Nov. 6?,” they asked.
Out of habit, I paused to consider the question. Teleconferences? Press conferences? Practice? Games? Then I burst into laughter.
“Hell, yes, I’m free. The 7th, 8th and 9th, too!”
I’ve you’ve followed me this far, hopefully you have the fortitude to hang in there a few more weeks.
Contact Mark Tupper at (217) 421-7983. Follow him on Twitter: @MarkTupper