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Rusty Saber celebrates 5th anniversary

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by Joe McAdoo

Congratulations, indeed, to the Rusty Saber. Joe McAdoo this week celebrates an enviable string of making deadline. Without diminishing from Rusty Saber's content, a writer who meets deadline is an editor's best friend. Just to rub it in, I was a Glendale senior when the column made its debut. Editor

I hope my readers will forgive me a bit of reminiscing. This particular column marks a milestone of sorts: The 15th anniversary of the Rusty Saber (no drum roll, please).

It all began the first week in January 1983 in what was then called Tops Executive Journal. I had no thought of how long it would last. A year, maybe. But 15 years? No way.

A lot has changed since then. The name of the newspaper itself changed to the Springfield Business Journal; there have been three office location changes. Several talented editors have wrestled with the task of turning my ramblings into something readable.

Two things have remained unchanged: The guiding hand of Publisher Dianne Elizabeth, orchestrating the changes, and my weekly deadlines. A well-known nationally syndicated columnist once told me that the best way to learn to write well is to have a deadline.

Weekly deadlines probably haven't had that effect on me, but they have at least taught me to meet them. Except for a couple of times when I (and my health insurance company) made major contributions to the addition of new wings to the hospital, the deadlines have been met.

When the Rusty Saber began, Ronald Reagan was president. Since then, he was reelected, George Bush was elected once, and Bill Clinton twice. O.J. Simpson was just a football player. "M*A*S*H" was the best thing on television.

No one had heard of a young lawyer named John Grisham. Windows 95 might have been the title of a science fiction movie.

Then, I banged out the Rusty Saber on a typewriter, which now sounds primitive even to me. I confess that typing was the only course I ever failed, however, a computer can make a typist of even a ham-fisted clod like me.

In 1983, the pace of life in Springfield was slower. The city limits didn't extend much beyond Battlefield Mall. The James River Freeway was an idea on a drawing board. During the life of the Rusty Saber, relentless growth has expanded Springfield's borders far into what was pristine countryside in 1983.

Traffic gridlock was a term to describe places like Los Angeles, but not Springfield. Today it describes our commute to work. Not everyone approves of the ever-increasing sprawl of concrete, asphalt, neon, shopping centers, restaurants, homes and traffic, but it will continue.

Many City Council members have come and gone since 1983. Sometimes council members have gotten along, and sometimes they haven't. At times, council meetings have sounded and looked like the Monday Night Fights. Others have resembled love-ins.

Regardless of the makeup of City Council, one thing has remained constant: Springfield was a well-governed and -managed city in 1983, and it remains so.

Because the City Council is so visible, it's an easy target for critics. Truth be told, most of council's decisions have been good for the city during the 15 years I've been closely watching, ready to poke my Rusty Saber at it in case a bad one was made.

The world hasn't stood still since 1983; neither have I. My children have grown up and now have school-age children of their own. Then, my teaching career had 13 years remaining.

Two years ago, I followed Kenny Rogers' advice, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." I folded; I retired. The most frequent question asked of me at that time was, "Are you retiring from the Rusty Saber?" Since I'm writing this, I guess you know how I answered.

From the more than 800 Rusty Saber columns in the files, a book of selected columns was published, "McAdoo About Nothing."

I shamelessly promoted it in this column, which I'm doing again: It can be purchased at the SBJ office and at better bookstores (better because they sell my book), and from the trunk of my car and my garage.

Having had a happy birthday, the Rusty Saber will return next week to poke at something, count on it. I haven't yet missed a deadline.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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