My very first “Sunny Side Up” column appeared in The Milton Courier On Oct. 11, 1979. That was 42 years ago. That means I must have started writing this column when I was 7, since I’m only 49 now; give or take 27 years.
Below is a scaled-down reprint of that famous, or infamous, first column:
I’m what’s known as a non-mover, one of those unique individuals who is perfectly content to live in the same house, in the same town and in the same state for an extended period of time.
Ninety years is a nice extension.
When the possibility of moving back to Wisconsin first arose, I met it head-on like any other mature non-mover. I had constantly irrigated cheeks, dive bomber butterflies in my stomach and the feeling that my entire world was coming to an end.
It offered little comfort that I would be “heading home” after nine years. I was born in Janesville’s Mercy Hospital, raised in the metropolis of Milton, married and carted off to the Minnesota wilderness and then later exiled to the Iowan prairie.
After the decision was made to make the move from Swea City (800 people) to Janesville (800 restaurants), I tackled the task of packing all of our earthly goods.
Since I’m a pack rat, it was no surprise to run across my mummified Junior Prom corsage. But, it was embarrassing to stumble across several jars of grape juice I canned in 1973, with the intention of making jelly “someday.”
The job of boxing, taping and labeling belongings is tedious and time consuming. After a few days, I discovered the whole process moves along much faster if you don’t stop to read the newspapers you’re wrapping around picture frames and stuffing inside vases.
Although I started out organized, moving day was chaotic. I vaguely remember tossing the aquarium light in with some socks, but I’ve forgotten where I tossed the socks. I assume they’ll show up by Christmas, my target date for being unpacked and resettled. (That was Christmas, 1981.)
Much of the move is a blur. I do remember driving our car on the interstate, trying to bribe our two kids to ride with their dad in the U-Haul. (Our 3-year-old, Jay, kept baptizing our Buick with Pepsi, and I though it was time he moved on to trucks.)
Speaking of Jay, he thoroughly enjoyed the move. To him, the trip east was one long, continuous adventure. He became particularly excited as we neared La Crosse. He kept calling the hills “mountains.” Iowa does strange things to kids.
He also kept up a non-stop, one-sided conversation about monsters. I never did get the connections between mountains and monsters, but he had me scared by the time we reached the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi.
I ending up surviving the change of address. No small feat for a non-mover. However, I’m still trying to memorize our new telephone number, house address and zip code, car license number and area code.
Now, if I can just figure out where to store two dozen jars of 6-year-old grape juice, I’ll really feel at home.