Summer dwindles, and we say good-bye

It’s that point in the summer when I don’t want to let go. Too soon, evenings are cooling and locusts are calling.

With the Fourth behind us, back to school has returned to the collective vocabulary.

It also means we say good-bye to our summer intern this week.

Olivia Hanson, of Gowrie, has been a blessing to us. A journalism student at Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism — ahem, my alma mater — she walked into our lives early in the season and blended with the staff much in the same way iced tea becomes an essential summer drink. It has been refreshing to have her spirit with us as we navigated everything from graduations to summer festivals and county fairs. Her employment for the summer was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Iowa Newspaper Foundation and for that we are grateful.

In true journalism spirit, Olivia has been up for just about anything. Between road trips around our area for Today Magazine, which you’ll see in the August issue, she learned some scanner lingo. A 10-50 PI refers to a motor vehicle accident with personal injuries. A 10-79 means the coroner has been called. Summer in a newsroom is a stew of the good and the very not-so-good. Olivia took it all in stride. Not bad, don’t you think, for a young woman intent on fashion journalism?

Where did this summer go? Across town, the Hamilton County Fair is sliding into its final big day. Webster, Wright, Pocahontas, those fairs are in the rear view. Ahead, the Iowa State Fair beckons.

If you are — or were — a 4-H’er, you’ll understand the progression. Summer begins and every club’s version of an achievement show is on the calendar. That is the first filter heading into each county’s fair. Then the fair itself, into which funnels each 4-H’er’s work. The fair, as most of you no doubt know, is the gateway to the state fair, a pinnacle of accomplishment no matter what your choice of project.

When I was a senior in high school, and a senior in 4-H, I represented Hamilton County at the State 4-H Dress Revue. Back then, you designed and sewed an outfit. Gaucho was big then. I made a fairly loud skirt and vest with complimenting blouse for my entry. Then I wove baling twine into a lace-up, corset-style belt. I was, good or bad, always tending to go over the top.

P.S. I didn’t win.

When I first enrolled at ISU, I studied fashion because I wanted to be a designer. But in flat pattern-making class I created a one-shoulder draped Grecian-style gown and was left feeling totally misunderstood. Eventually, I dropped out of college, only to return years later and earn a journalism degree. Ironic, don’t you think, that in my last semester I studied fabric printing in the design school there and flourished. I remember a professor saying: “That work is strictly Fifth Avenue. What are you doing in journalism?”

My answer?

“It’s too late.”

And I recall my father, when I had moved to Connecticut after graduation and was smack in the middle of a job search in the newspaper business, suggesting I do something with clothing.

“Dad, I’m a journalist!” I told him with the kind of outrage I wish I could reach into the phone line and take back.

The closest I came to fashion out there was “Uncle” Jim Stewart, an editor with whom I worked in a cramped — and I mean cramped — office. He was once the bra and girdle editor for Women’s Wear Daily.

This summer, when I learned that Olivia loves fashion too, a notion was awakened in me. Not that I regret my choice of journalism, but that we don’t have to choose just one thing, just one path or one purpose.

It’s pretty clear that in my early days in this field I thought the opposite.

Olivia reminded me that was wrong.

So I am grateful.

We are grateful, because she has been a champ.

So we bid her a farewell with fondness and the wish that her future is everything she hopes it will be. And I do mean everything.

Olivia, thank you for spending the summer with The Messenger.

Jane Curtis is editor of The Messenger.