Just like wearing an old hat

By Jeff Schumacher | Jun 20, 2012

It’s funny. Before we made our decision to move back to Haywood County, we had a family meeting in which our girls were presented with a couple of options.

We could go a couple of places for work, and I felt like they were old enough to have some input. Plus, they are girls, who when reaching a certain age tend to take over the household decision-making process.

So, as we sat at the kitchen counter discussing the options, we started talking about the pros and cons of each location. There weren’t many cons to our discussion about Haywood County, but nonetheless, we managed to put a few on our list.

Let me take you back a few years. We hail from the mighty state of North Dakota. Each one of our children (four in all) have been born in a different city. In fact, two of the four have been born in different states all together.

That’s not uncommon for people in the newspaper business. If you want your career to move forward, you’re almost forced to move from city to city looking for the perfect fit, yet never really getting too settled in.

But, as we sat around talking about all the friends we had met the last time we were in Haywood County, and all the fond memories we had of raising our children here, I know I had my mind made up. But, I decided that this time it wasn’t going to be my decision. I was going to let the girls decide if they wanted to come back here, or start over somewhere else.

Well, you all know the answer. It was a resounding, “let’s go back to the mountains, dad.” It was like music to my ears. It takes a lot of time and energy to start over. Although I have done it many times, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through it again. So, when they decided to head back to Haywood County, I was relieved.

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with an old hat?

Well, everyone who has ever worn a hat has a favorite one. Just the other day a gentleman was in my office wearing a hat that I know had to have been washed 10 times if it had been washed once. That’s because he was comfortable in that hat. It fit him the way he liked. It made him secure.

That’s how I feel about Haywood County. It’s like an old hat that makes me comfortable. Everywhere I go, people tell me how happy they are that I am back. And, there is no better feeling in the world than to be wanted.

In fact, as I was standing in the alley next to our building the other day talking to Bruce McGovern, someone on Main Street honked their horn and yelled out, “welcome back, Jeff. It’s great to see you back here.” What a feeling of want that gave me!

It’s only human nature to want to be in a place where we feel wanted. Whether that be at work, church or somewhere else. It’s just human nature to be liked and feel like you’re contributing. Haywood County people, despite all the personal struggles each of us face, always find a way to make a person feel wanted.

But, there is one more thing that comes with people saying how happy they are that my family and I  are back. We all have to give something of ourselves back to the community. And, we are trying to do that each day. You will see our family out and about in the community like before, and hopefully we can make a small difference in the lives of others.

I read in a book lately, that going back home is never really the same as it was when you left. I think, in a small way, there is some truth to that. Some things have changed since 2009. But, they have changed everywhere. But, the vast majority of what we love about Haywood County has remained. The people and the real caring for each other that is rare to find in today’s tough and cruel world.

So, moving back has been a blessing beyond my wildest dreams. I guess you could say it feels just like wearing an old hat.


Jeff Schumacher is the general manager of Mountaineer Publishing, Inc.