About the Colony

After 45 years of column writing, it's time to say goodbye

Lon Allan
Lon Allan jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

I began writing my newspaper column 45 years ago.

For 31 years, the column was titled “Along the King’s Highway.” It mainly focused on life in Atascadero while I served as editor of the Atascadero News for 35 years.

Then in 2004, I left the community newspaper and joined the news crew here at The Tribune. I was old enough to retire, and I did. But The Tribune offered me the opportunity to continue the column. It was titled “About the Colony.”

While my friend and fellow columnist Phil Dirkx concentrated on the Paso Robles area, I zeroed in, once again, on Atascadero, with occasional side trips to vent my dislike of chickens, an occasional shout-out in support of local causes and sometimes, just something silly.

Many years ago, I had an opportunity to spend a couple hours with William Randolph Hearst Jr.

We got to talking about columns, and Hearst suggested that regardless of the issue, I pick one side and stick to it. If you try to see all sides so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, you’ll never hear from your readers, he suggested. So, upon that advice, I usually chose a side and stuck with it.]

Hearst was right. I did get instant feedback, whether in the form of letters to the editor, or in this modern age, emails.

I’m often asked what my favorite column was. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but the salute to The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers on the occasion of their passing were the easiest to pen. I maintain we need the two of them now more than ever.

I will forever be proud of a column I wrote that led to a permanent home for Atascadero Loaves and Fishes. The neophyte organization was operating out of a church basement and was looking for a home to call its own. A local man had a retail space that he was willing to make available at a very reduced price that fit Loaves and Fishes’ budget. His generous offer was quickly accepted.

Oh, about chickens. I really do hate them.

This will be my final column.

It has been a creeping thought nagging away at me for the past several months that now is the time to quit. At one time, deadlines were what drove me. I didn’t have a choice. In the world of journalism, they are always there to remind you there’s work to be done.

I want to be done.

I appreciate the efforts of the editors at The Tribune to make me appear more literate than I am. God bless the copy desk.

And on a national level, God bless the leakers.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or lonallan39@gmail.com.
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