My heart is on Phoenix Street
Sunday, June 22, 2014 12:00 AM
Well, it looks like the cat is out of the bag. The car has left the garage. The horse is out of the barn. The Index-Journal sports staff has left the bar.
Just kidding. Sports reporters never leave the bar. Well, they leave to cover games. Then they go back to the bar.
The point is, the word is out. Yes, after a 10-year reign of terror, I am leaving the Index-Journal. My wife received an excellent job offer in the Lexington/Columbia area, so we are going to try a new adventure.
My last day as senior staff writer here will be July 3. I’m sure there will be a few politicians (or ousted politicians) who will shoot fireworks on July 4, not because of Independence Day, but because they finally will be rid of me.
Before I go on any further, note this is not a “farewell” Sunday column. While I will no longer be here full-time, we have decided the Sunday column will continue, at least for a while. Executive editor Richard Whiting has agreed to pay me in Bojangles Cajun filet biscuits and expired Piggly Wiggly coupons.
So, for the six of you reading this, you’ll still get my oddball musings on Sundays.
Part of the reason my departure became public knowledge is because of the very nice proclamation Mayor Welborn Adams and Greenwood City Council did for me last week. Saturday was proclaimed “Chris Trainor Day” in Greenwood.
The official food of Chris Trainor Day was pizza and sugar-free Red Bull. My Red Bull addiction was even cited in the proclamation.
I’m guessing it is now the only reference to Red Bull in the city’s official records.
I’LL BE HONEST with you. It’s not been an easy thing, leaving the paper.
I love working for the Index-Journal. I’m not just saying that. I REALLY, TRULY LOVE WORKING FOR THE INDEX-JOURNAL. It has been one of the great pleasures of my life.
I’ve given it all I’ve got, and then a little bit more. The ink on this paper — the ink that is rubbing off and smudging your fingers right now — has a little bit of my sweat in it, a little bit of my blood, a little bit of my hate, a little bit of my love and a great deal of my heart.
I don’t take this lightly. Ask my family. Ask my friends. I’ll fight over the Index-Journal. You can talk bad about me. Don’t talk bad about my paper. You can’t even begin to know what goes into this, every day, on hard deadline, 365 days per year.
I’m an ink-stained wretch and I always will be.
I started at this paper 10 years ago. The sports editor at the time — Mike Stone, God bless him — gave me a shot at “stringing” (i.e. freelancing) stories for the sports department. My first assignment and byline for the paper was in the summer of 2004. It was a semi-pro basketball game down at old Southside Middle School.
Later that fall, Mike brought me in for a regular part-time gig, sports clerk. The previous sports clerk kept getting drunk and laying out of work. You know it’s bad when the sports editor at a newspaper says “Man, that guy drinks too much. We’ve got to get someone else.”
From there, things just kind of snowballed. In spring 2005, they brought me on for a full-time sports job. I was over the moon, if for no other reason than I got to share a sports office with the great Jim Joyce.
See, here’s the thing: I’m from Abbeville. I grew up here. My parents subscribed to the Index-Journal. I read it every afternoon. (Remember, it used to be an evening paper.) I memorized the bylines, wondered about who these men and women were.
And now, here I was, a kid in his 20s, and I’ve got a chance to work with them. Jim Joyce! Bill Collins! Legends. You mean I get to write for the newspaper and share space with these guys, and you’re going to pay me for it? Sign me up.
After a couple of years of making everyone in town angry with my sportswriting — everyone but former Greenwood High manager/trainer/living mascot Clarence Giles — the editors talked me into moving over to the news side, under the guise it would be “fewer nights” and “better hours.”
Still, it’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve interviewed everyone from a homeless man who was down to his last dime to Barack Obama during the year he made his first charge to the White House.
I’ve written stories that got people elected to office, and I’ve written stories that got people tossed out of office.
I’ve written articles that made me proud to be alive and I’ve made errors that kept me up late at night.
I’ve gotten certificates and plaques and nice letters from people of all types. People have made me cookies and baked me cakes and sent me cards at Christmas. I’ve also been cursed out, yelled at and received more than a few nasty emails.
I only had my life threatened once.
Whiting has been my editor all these years, and I’ve taken great pains in my column to portray him as a cigar-chomping grump who frequents sex shops. The truth is … he doesn’t smoke that many cigars.
No, the REAL truth is that Whiting has been a great editor, supervisor, colleague and, more than anything, my friend.
And then there is our publisher, Judi Burns. Former associate editor Scott J. Bryan (there’s another all-timer) used to call her “Mama.”
That was so appropriate. If you stick around the Index long enough, she becomes like a second mama. I’ve been here 10 years, and, in that time, she always let me be me. She never killed a story, never complained about a column, never second-guessed me. But, on more than one occasion, she stood up for me.
I’ve gone on way too long here. Thanks to everyone for putting up with me. Greenwood, Abbeville, the whole Lakelands, you’re my heart.
The pleasure was, and remains, mine.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 864-943-5650; email email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.