Memory lane

Click-click, click-click, click-click. The turn signals on my car urged me on as I turned onto Interstate 135 near McPherson Monday.

Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump. My heart pounded as I passed an on-ramp I wrote about in a Faith Matters column a couple of years ago for the Free Press. The young man, his hat, his army-green duffle bag, and his thumb waving in the air asking for a ride rushed to the forefront of my memory. Being an all-round nice guy, I gave that fellow a ride. And I didn’t charge him anything… except to use that experience in my column.

Several more memories from my days in Hillsboro-and at the Free Press-came back to me as I turned onto U.S. Highway 56 at McPherson and pointed the car toward Hillsboro.

I remembered the bumps in the road from times spent driving to and from places like Lindsborg, McPherson, Sterling and other cities Tabor College teams played.

Near Lehigh, I saw the water tower and recalled numerous trips there for fresh spring water.

When I turned onto North Ash in Hillsboro, many memories competed for my limited attention. It took several moments to sort through them:

–A cold November day in 1997 when my shaky fingers dialed the phone number of someone named Joel Klaassen, whom I’d never met.

“Mr. Klaassen, this is Andy Johnson. I wrote a few articles for the Hillsboro Advocate while at Tabor and I’d like some copies if you have them. I’m looking for a job in the newspaper business….”

–A sunny day in spring 1998 when a perspiring Don Ratzlaff jogged past my apartment and stopped to talk. By the time Don resumed his route, I had my reporting beat: Tabor College sports.

Sure, the Free Press-and Hillsboro-have changed during the two years since I left. But some things haven’t. Hillsboro continues to grow, and more than 7,000 copies of the Free Press hit the streets every week.

Editor’s note: Andy Johnson was a Free Press reporter, sports writer and columnist when we launched our first issue in August 1998. These days he’s covering sports and writing columns for the Elk City (Okla.) Daily News. He payed us a surprise and welcomed visit earlier this week.

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