My parents and English teachers through the years always stressed correct spelling and grammatical usage.
As a sixth-grade student in the Dresden Elementary School, I actually won the school spelling bee and was then in the spelling competition in the junior high school in Penn Yan.
Spelling was important — and still is.
Spelling is especially critical in the news business!
A single word if misspelled or used incorrectly could change the entire meaning of a sentence or entire article.
When I first began working for the then-Massena Observer, my articles were all typed and handed to the editor in a “hard copy” format.
Yes, I pre-dated computers.
Three people were asked to proof each article written.
I would proofread the article, and then one other reporter was asked to also proof read it.
The editor would “edit” the article with pen in hand, circling incorrect words and drawing arrows directing where specific details of the story should be placed.
The personal computer arrived.
There were no more piles of crumpled paper on the floor filled with mistakes and corrections typed diligently as a story was being prepared.
Spell check was part of the new computer age.
At times, this was a marvelous help (as I typed a specific word, which I had completely typed incorrectly, it was changed to its proper spelling), but there were countless other words that were changed randomly with no connection to what I was writing.
Yes, there was still a great need for proofreading each typewritten story or column.
I must admit I am terrible at proofreading my own writing.
(Trish Prashaw Wilson was a skilled proofreader. She would walk behind the office computer and immediately see errors!)
I read the printed words as they should be written, not how they actually appear on the printed page.
I also tend to invert letters and then read them as they should be printed as I attempt to correct what I have written (at least that is my excuse).
The Gardner turns Proofreader on Monday, reading and rereading this column.
And there are dedicated editors in Watertown who work diligently to make sure each word and sentence has been written correctly — at least in the area of spelling.
(My heartfelt thanks to Jerry Moore and Chris Brock!)
There are now new concerns as I sit at my iPad keyboard or hold the small keyboard on my phone with my fingers that are far larger than the keyboard.
Especially in a text, I write a quick thought perhaps in a response to a question I had just received.
As I hit send, I notice a completely misspelled word or a nonsensical thought.
Usually, I notice an error as it proceeds to the recipient of the message and then there are texts to follow with corrections (how embarrassing).
I am still concerned about sending a message with each word spelled correctly.
But as I receive texts, sharing thoughts in what appears to be a new language, I wonder if proofreading is an exercise of the past.
Yesterday, I received a note that simply said “ok ty.”
I wonder: Should there be more proofreaders employed to assist with spelling errors?
Do we concentrate on accurate spelling or just understand there is a new language now filled with text-speak and emojis?
We have been so fortunate in Bombay to have the kindest and most caring rural letter carriers, delivering the mail at our home.
When our oldest son was born, Clarence Carpenter delivered our mail and would bring packages to the new baby in our residence.
When I expressed my appreciation, he would just kindly say that he knew I was busy with the baby.
How thoughtful he was.
Recently, Keith Fletcher retired from his position delivering our mail.
How kind and thoughtful he was.
There is a new rural letter carrier bringing our mail — and packages ordered each day.
My heartfelt thanks to postal carrier Nicole.
We welcome her to this rural letter route.
She has already assisted with stamp purchases and mailing, which means so much.
Our warmest wishes, Nicole, and our thanks for your work during this difficult time.
WHAT A JOY
It was a joy recently to learn that the group Small Wonder (which features Massena’s James C. Phillips) had recorded a song, “Appreciation,” which was written by Jim in 1976.
As I listened, the words seemed so appropriate, “appreciation for the little things.”
It wasn’t just the listening of this song that touched me but the search for the song was delightful.
I searched for the song and group and found an article about the group itself, describing Jimmy Phillips and Jerry Morin as “exceptionally skilled players.”
I agree completely!
And then as I searched, I discovered “Winter Wonderland” played by this amazing musician.
What fun on a sweltering north country day to listen to Jim Phillips at the organ playing (watch his feet on the pedalboard — that is truly amazing).
“Winter Wonderland”; what fun!
My thanks this week to Jim at Home Depot on a Monday morning.
We needed to purchase a washing machine.
Ours was literally on its last legs as it clunked loudly on its final washing cycle.
There was a search online, and then a telephone call to the Home Depot in Massena.
The gentleman who answered was so helpful and kind, making sure each detail of a purchase was attended to.
He provided the needed information and proceeded with the transaction so we were able to purchase a washing machine that day.
My heartfelt thanks to this gentleman for making a curbside purchase possible.
Isn’t the north country a marvelous place to live and shop where the kindest people answer the telephone on a Monday morning and make sure your purchase now curbside is completed?
I certainly think so!
(The washing machine is absolutely perfect, too!)
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”
— Charlie Chaplin