Last Sunday Night

By MaryHelen Swanson, editor

– Well, here I am, a blank sheet of paper in front of me, pen in hand, and so many things to say as I write my last Sunday Night column.

Summing up the past 13 years, actually going back to December 1985, could take a lot of writing, but I know you don’t want to hear it all.

Just know it’s been quite a trip for me and as this last edition with my name as editor rolls off the press, I must share just a bit about all those years of hometown journalism that will forever be special to me.

Many of you know that what I will remember most are the people. I have shared many stories with you, our readers, stories of pain and sorrow, triumph and joy, good and evil, and life and death.

My subjects have ranged in age from newborn to 103. I loved every moment I shared your lives in living rooms, kitchens, backyards, coffee shops, at community events and in my office.

Even the ornery folks I encountered over the years, I believe it has been a test of my abilities to compromise and be accepting, for not everyone is alike.

The many meetings

Most people wondered how I could ever sit through all the meetings. My math isn’t the greatest, but I figure I have sat at thousands of meetings including the county boards of Chisago and Isanti, school boards of North Branch, Rush City, Cambridge-Isanti and Braham, city councils of North Branch, Rush City, Isanti, Braham and sometimes Cambridge, and even Stacy and Harris, sometimes townships and the East Central Solid Waste Commission (I was there at its beginning and wrote about garbage for years).

I have attended planning commissions, work sessions, retreats, ribbon cuttings, ground breakings, open houses, store closings and store openings and more, for these counties, municipalities, school districts, and local businesses, too.

I have desperately tried to understand city, county and school district issues so that I could make you aware of those things you should know, far beyond the things you want to know.


Although I missed numerous family events over the years, I loved attending your community events and capturing photos of you and your children enjoying yourselves.

I know a “cute kid” photo on the front page will be appreciated by moms, dads and grandparents and it didn’t hurt our bottom line either. Kids are so great to photograph.

Our older folks with the years well stamped into their faces were also a favorite of mine, and I especially loved to capture veterans and senior citizens as they were recognized for years of dedication and service to our country and our communities.

I never did get to take the plunge into freezing cold Fish Lake, but I did fly overhead in an air ambulance at 180 mph, and I did walk the track all night at the Relay for Life, and in the rain one year too.

My life has pretty much been dictated by what event is happening on any certain weekend. And I’m going to miss the events and all those people that go with them.

Not all roses

The tragic part of your lives has been part of mine also. Unexpected deaths, terminal illnesses, fatal car crashes, fires…… have all been a part of the life I have lived for many years.

I like to think I handled those stories with tenderness and compassion.  I believe you knew I would take care of your stories, as you were willing to open up to me in your darkest hours.

In all my writing and reporting I hope that I have demonstrated one thing – civility. I would like very much to know that, if nothing else, you will remember my incessant preaching about it and move through life treating each other with decency, if nothing else.

I could go on, but that would exceed my word limit for an opinion page column and even I must comply.

Many thanks

I thank Elmer L. Andersen, who helped create the Alliss Grant, education funding which allowed me to attend Cambridge Community College when the house got empty as my baby was off to kindergarten.

And I thank Evelyn Puffer, former editor of the Isanti County News who took a chance on me and gave me a reporting job.

I thank the folks at ECM Publishers who gave me encouragement over the years, especially as I took over the editorship of the Post Review in 1999, just in time for Y2k and the beginning of a new century.

I will miss the ECM family Elmer pulled together; it’s a unique and interesting group.

I’ll miss seeing you all at the MNA conventions… and of course, dragging home a pile of award plaques.

Most of all, I thank you, my readers, my friends and co-workers who have been so gracious to me over the years and who have appreciated my work. I will miss you so, more than you’ll ever know.

And with that, I put down my pen.

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