‘There’s always a new experience in the journalism business,” said Landmark editor Bob Uphues in reference to a letter I received last week via the paper’s office. It seems I have a reader, or I guess you could say an admirer, who is a “guest of the state” and just happens to be an inmate at the Illinois Department of Corrections located in Pontiac.
Seems our paper has readers all over and from all “walks” (I don’t think that it quite the correct word) of life. It’s nice to know we have a following.
The two-page letter, written on yellow legal paper (no pun intended) is actually fairly well-written; it is printed, not in cursive.
The content expresses a desire to develop a friendship – there was an adjective before the word “friendship” which I choose to omit. What he is asking is for me to be his pen pal (“pen pal” get it?). He continues to tell me how he is intrigued by my “commentary and ability to enchant with a potent demure of grace and intelligence.”
OK, I’ll take that as a compliment! There are a few other passages that I will just skip over. It is nice to know someone would like to place me “at the center of their thinking,” but no thanks. I’ve been married long enough to believe that I am already the center of someone’s thinking, or should be.
While Tom (that’s his name) did not tell me why he is an inmate in Pontiac Correctional Institute he did tell me he has been in lock-up for 23 years. Further investigation told me he is there serving a 26 year sentence for armed robbery (that means he had a weapon), aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and burglary. I don’t know if this is a first offense or what, but I have seen enough “Law and Order” to surmise this most likely wasn’t the first time he was in trouble.
In case you’re wondering, I won’t be writing to Tom or fulfilling any of his other requests. I still have thank you notes I should have written, and writing a weekly column keeps me busy enough.
I do hope Tom will spend his time as well as he can, and reading and writing are excellent pastimes. Hopefully, he will have changed his life by the time he gets out.
You’re right, Bob, there’s always new experiences in journalism – and this was a new one for me.