A week ago the letter came in the mail, and I immediately recognized the handwriting on the envelope. A little early for the annual Christmas wishes from journalism teacher at Morrisville Agricultural and Technical College from 1975 to 1977, I thought, but as I tore open the envelope, the familiar type font on his printed letter put me in that old, great mood, along with his yellow-highlighted phrases, green-circled points of emphasis and clips.
Lots of clips.
My Maryland Terps had played Neal’s Michigan State Spartans on the football field a few weeks back, and he had to address their first meeting as brethren in the Big Ten, of course. Before mentioning that his Sparties spanked my Terrapins, though, he just had to chide my squad’s boorish behavior when the captains refused to shake hands with Penn State’s captains before the pregame coin toss a week prior at Beaver Stadium. Poor sportsmanship, Neal declared. I sheepishly agree.
Oh, then he got to teasing me about the Michigan State victory.
Yes, I got the point about him hand-writing in the score and new standings after the Spartans’ easy 35-15 victory over the Terps. In the Terps’ stadium, yet.
Of course, always a lover of good writing, he also sent me a clip of a newspaper a story about a Michigan State alum who attended three Spartans games in Maryland that weekend.
After covering some personal issues about his family and mine, and our extended Morrisville journalism family, Neal signed off with his usual well-wishes.
I met this man in August, 1975, and took classes with him through May, 1977. That’s 37 years ago, folks. And still we remain steadfast friends.
That’s why in February, one month after I began writing a weekly community blog for Syracuse public media site waer.org, I decided the journalism program at SUNY Morrisville needed my touch. So I met Neal and some other of his students from over the years for lunch out there in Morrisville, some 35 miles southeast of Syracuse.
I took a shot of Neal and his wonderful wife Carol during that lunch, after telling her how she’d been one of us all these years, too, or since the days she’d answer the door of their house to find college students asking if they could talk to her husband for a quick second. Heck, she’d come out with him to the bars to join the discussions about life and learning, too.
Here’s the link to the story I wrote for my blog about that lunch, a sister piece to my story for waer.org.
Here’s the link to the story I wrote about the journalism program and Neal Bandlow for waer.org.
After I got done reading Neal’s letter and all those clips, I knew I wanted to use all it, his words and his messages, to wrap up Nano Poblano.
Why did we want to publish on our blogs every day in November, and read new blogs, and converse with new bloggers? Why did this group called Nano Poblano mean so much to so many of us?
I believe it’s quite akin to why Neal Bandlow still writes me a letter 37 years after my last visit to a classroom in which he taught.
Because words matter.