“The Model A Car Model” story, which appeared on the Editorial Page of the Independent News was a major breakthrough for me. Truly, a golden opportunity.
The Golden Opportunity
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In February of 2001, a golden opportunity was presented to me. My editor, Judy Lutolf, asked me to write a piece for the Editorial Page of the Independent News. It was an assignment that I took very serious. Originally, I had written some editorials on some local political issues. But none of them hit me as being right, they just didn’t click for me.
I set up my desk at the ad agency so that it provided inspiration for creativity.
At the time, I was also working full time in the Editorial Department of an ad agency, located in northeast New Jersey. And, I was teaching Creative Writing classes at a local college and also in the adult education program of a local high school. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.
From my desk in my room, I wrote hundreds and hundreds of articles for local newspapers and various publications.
I remember that I wrote at least a dozen prospective editorials for this golden opportunity to have a byline on the Editorial Page. Nothing was clicking. I decided to completely dispense of the idea of focusing on anything political. Then, in the middle of the night, I was awoken with an idea, a concept, for this golden opportunity. I decided to write a reflection piece about the time, when I had rheumatic fever at the age of 12, and my fellow scouts bought me a model to put together. I can’t explain it. The idea just seemed right. The idea just clicked.
“The Model A Car Model” was the story that gave me my big break to become a featured writer of the Editorial Page of the Independent News.
That morning, I sketched out a skeleton outline of my editorial about the Model A car model, that the scouts from my old Beaver Patrol gave me for a gift one Saturday morning. On my lunch hour, that day, I wrote it all out using the old fashioned technique of pen and paper. Fortunately, that night I didn’t have a class to teach, so after supper I typed up the editorial and sent it off to Ms. Lutolf.
The Model A car model itself.
It was a simple story. It was a true story. It was a reflection of a very dear, heart warming moment in my life. It was an example of the positive power of a single act of kindness. After my editorial appeared in that issue of the Independent News, I was given the opportunity to write many more editorials. Most of them kept the theme of how we can uplift one another, how we can inspire one another, and the power of simple kindness.
I look back now and truly wonder how I did it all back then. In January of 2001, I was 47 years old. I really and truly don’t know how I did it. At the same time, I was giving talks at local libraries in northeast New Jersey, generally speaking giving at least one talk a week.
Now at 63, I look back at my younger self and find a certain inspiration in his drive, his ambition, his untiring efforts to succeed in life. In many ways, I’ve gained a certain respect for my younger self. Sometimes, I wish that I could go back in time and tell my younger self to slow down, to not work so hard.
I remember that when I was 47, I was very much in love with this very fine woman. But sadly she became disenchanted with my drive, my insane ambition, and my workaholic way of life. It is so ironic because I was working so hard to give her reason to be proud of me. I was working so hard to save the money to buy an engagement ring. There’s almost an irony to the situation that even O.Henry would tip his hat to, in earnest respect.
I look back now, I wish I had the wisdom that I have now, when I was younger. I wish I could talk to my younger self for just five minutes. I would tell my younger self to slow down, to not work so hard. I no longer have the ability to work long hours like I once did. It’s a funny thing, as the years roll by we exchange youth for wisdom. A wisdom that often comes at a very high price.