One week in, and it feels like home

Moving north from Gulf Coast Mississippi, South Florida ain't so tough when this is where I moved

Finches play in the bushes at the Nodak Motel in Dickinson.
Gaylon Wm. Parker/The Dickinson Press

This place you call “home” is wonderful.

Perhaps it’s the enthusiasm of starting a new job doing what I love, maybe it’s the friendly style with which y’all carry yourselves, and it could be the unique nature of this community – at first blush – but while I’ve been here for only a little more than a week, it feels like I’ve been here a month. Not in a bad way, but in quite possibly the BEST of ways.

There are these times in all our lives when we take a massive risk, depart from whatever is making us take the leap and just jump … most folks consider that sort of activity to be foolish and insane, but at least once in all our lives it is required to MAINTAIN our respective sanity. That was certainly the case for me, a community-sports guy who was dying to “get back to the tools of the trade.” Having kept busy with it over the years in some form or another, it wasn’t that difficult to get back the muscle-memory and start swinging.

From the jump, it felt inspiring to be back in a small-town gymnasium and see the passionate love for the Dickinson Midgets on the hardwood. The facilities are amazing and the people, doubly-so. The accommodation has made the transition process so simple that some people have already started treating me as friendly as they would a neighbor. Staying at the Nodak Motel has probably been the most restful experience, because having a place to rest one’s head is important to each day. And it reminds me of motel stays back in Florida when my Dad was an itinerant electrician and my folks tried to find the most localized places – from hotels or motels to eating establishments and entertainment – they could to soak up as much of the community as possible during our brief stays in so-many locations. That experience has served me well, in that moving from one place to another, either through moves or vacations, mixed with military service and journalism itself has made much of it easier and less threatening or imposing.

But all of YOU who I’ve met thus far have certainly helped.


Admittedly, I know there were a couple of mistakes in my stories, because with the e-edition and the online edition – which come with the same subscription – allows me time to correct those mistakes. It makes for a cleaner and more-accurate product on the back end.

Meanwhile … not one of you brought them up.

There was no hazing ritual to be found and no “new-guy” humiliation awaiting me (which, believe me, has happened at other papers I worked for, and nobody contacted me except to correct the oversight of leaving her son’s name out of an article. No-harm, no-foul, as the saying goes, and I corrected the problem easily and satisfied her concerns.

So, I will just tell you: You've created a pleasant, delightful town here, and it feels more like home each day.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how easy my coworkers have made this transition. Josiah Cuellar is such a hard-working and earnest guy that I cannot believe my good fortune in working with him, and our combined efforts are just gonna get better with time. Allison Engstrom is unlike most of the young reporters I’ve met – so many are full of themselves and want to thrill others with their acumen while still fresh out of J-School – and, instead, soaks up every bit of information the veteran staff has to offer. The publisher, Joy Schoch, is just about as delightful and genteel as you could imagine, but also is clearly determined and disciplined, while she encourages, guides and inspires us toward a quality product. The editor, James Miller, is as quality a guy as I’ve ever worked for, and it’s humbling to see how well he handles the various pressures that go on every day, because he does it so well.

Yeah, there was pretty much no doubt in my mind 10 days ago, and there's even less now. But Dickinson isn't just the "gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park," it's looking like the gateway to the remainder of my career (with a little fun thrown in for good measure). And thank-goodness we journalists don't HAVE to retire at 65, because there's so much left to do ...

Opinion by Gaylon Wm. Parker
Gaylon is a sportswriter from Jensen Beach, Fla., but has lived all over the world. Growing up with an athletic background gave him a love of sports that led to a journalism career in such places as Enid, Okla., Alamogordo, N.M., Pascagoula, Miss. and Viera, Fla. since 1998. His main passion is small-town community sports, particularly baseball and soccer.
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