The Wide Angle

Published 7:01 am Sunday, April 2, 2017

As a photographer, reporter and overall journalist, I’ve experienced a lot of interesting things in my time.

Yes, I can say “my time” now. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

It seems in a lot of ways I’ve covered a little bit of everything. Some things stand out from my career more than others — some legit news stories, others I would like to forget.

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For instance I could tell you about me and former reporter Amanda Lillie — now McKnight — covering President Barack Obama’s visit to Cannon Falls, Minnesota. I’ve covered a president. How about that, even though I question the decision making of those in a position to make these kinds of decisions.

Somebody made the decision to let myself and Amanda – cover the president. That’s not so surprising. She’s a fabulous reporter and I am the paper’s only staff photographer so on the surface it made sense.

On the flip side there is  also a good chance it turns into a 90s buddy-comedy movie where somehow we end up on the president’s bus and wacky hijinks follow. You laugh and offer a snort of derision, but in our time we collectively managed to show an astounding level of immaturity that really shouldn’t be present in adults. On that day it could easily have evolved into an international incident. Yes, our immaturity could have expanded into an international event involving, I would like to think, France.

Or I could tell you about photographing a bull running lose in Huron, South Dakota where a cowboy on a horse was trying to rope it and two police cars were acting as bull fighters.

No bull — really.

So, with examples like this you can imagine the odd circumstance myself and sportswriter Rocky Hulne found ourselves in, heading up to the semifinals of the Class AAA Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament and that was the position of chaperone for two 15-year-old girls.

See, told you. They are right there.

See, told you. They are right there.

I don’t have kids of my own. Heck, sometimes I find it difficult taking care of two cats. The other day I legitimately told them to settle down and play nice with each other — out loud. Like kids, neither cat listened and continued batting the crap out of each other.

Not that these two teens would be difficult and not like I was going to have to tell either of them to behave. Can’t speak as whether they might bat at each other or not.

I suppose by this point some context is required. The Austin Daily Herald’s publisher, Jana Gray was looking for some way for her youngest daughter Destiny to get to the game between Austin and Marshall and asked, if it works out, would I be willing to take her with me and Rocky.

I said yes because I’ve known Destiny for a long time and we get along splendidly. That’s either a testament to her maturity or my lack of maturity. I really haven’t figured out which yet.

Jana said she would let me know later that day and when that time came I looked down at my phone where the text read, “Hannah and Destiny will ride with you and buy McDonalds for you and Rocky. That ok?”

It was of course. Until that point all I knew was that a friend might go with and now suddenly I had that name, the assurance that another was coming with. Hannah. Who’s Hannah? To be fair there seems like an inordinate amount of Hannah’s of any number of spellings going to Austin High School, or at least playing sports, so my confusion was warranted. In this case it was Hannah McMasters and as Jana put it, “she’s a fan of yours.”

I don’t know for sure if I really have fans in the sense that Def Leppard has fans. Rocky and I were cheered once by Austin parents when the girls went to the state basketball tournament a number of years back and the student body has chanted our names a few times so maybe, but I’ve never felt the need to sign autographs before.

Still, I said sure because if nothing else I thought, this should be interesting.

I’ll be honest. I can talk to high school kids, but I’ve never had to carry on these kinds of long-term conversations with other than the stray interview or for kids where I’ve know them and their families for a while.

Turns out, I’m pretty good at it. Again, not sure where this places me on the maturity ladder and now I’m becoming concerned.

This also put a certain amount of pressure on me. Not only was I chauffeuring Destiny, the boss’ daughter, up to the Twin Cities, but now another girl — Hannah — whose parents may or may not know she rode up there with me, a sportswriter and of course Destiny. I checked with Hannah and  they did, which I suppose serves to indicate a certain standing I have in the community.

Above all else, though, I have to say how fun it was to have them. Conversation didn’t turn out to be as challenging as I thought it might and by the time we were within eyesight of Austin the two of them had us both laughing all the way through the city limits. Granted I laugh pretty easily, but still, it’s  solid reasoning that these two would go far in life.

We talked softball, we talked hockey, we talked about the merits of obeying traffic laws in the cities.

And I didn’t lose them. That’s perhaps the biggest thing I was concerned with up until the end. Well that, and the realization that more people should ask for my autograph.