Tiptoeing perilously close to self-praise…

Self-praise, my mother used to say, stinks. Earthy, but descriptive, and it’s something that’s stuck with me all my life. So it’s probably not an accident that I view the current occupant of the White House with more than a little disdain.

And then, as if my mother’s stern injunction wasn’t enough, I married someone who has a lot of Quaker in her background, and who is so opposed to blowing her own horn that she’s still never even read two local history booklets the two of us wrote back in 1975.

All that said, I now intend to blow my own horn a little, although I’m not ready to go so far as to call it self-praise because, you know, that’s bad.

Here it goes: I earned a first place in the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association’s 2018 Newspaper Contest for the best local column in the non-daily paper classification. The awards were announced Oct. 18 at NINA’s annual awards dinner at Northern Illinois University.

1893 Hughes, Nathan & Wife

One of the columns that proved to be NINA award-winners concerned discovering the exact date of this photo of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Hughes. An original copy of the photo is in the collections of the Abraham Lincoln Library in Springfield and Oswego’s Little White School Museum.

My “Reflections” column has been appearing weekly in Oswego’s weekly paper, the Ledger-Sentinel (corporate changed the name back to the Oswego Ledger a while ago, but I like the old name), since July 1980 when Jeff and Kathy Farren talked me into becoming the editor of the newly combined Oswego Ledger and Fox Valley Sentinel. Although I retired as the editor (and also a beat reporter—weekly newspaper folks do everything from photography to writing obits) of the Ledger-Sentinel back in 2008—I agreed to continue doing my weekly local history column, because it’s fun and I always enjoy a chance to talk history, even if I’m only talking to myself. It now also appears in several other Shaw Media newspapers on an irregular basis as well as the four papers they own here in Kendall County.

For the annual NINA contest, several columns have to be submitted written during the contest year, and this year, my editor, John Etheredge, sent in four of them including the Feb. 1 one on George Washington’s slave wedding gift and a similar one affecting a local family; the Jan. 29 piece on the Great Millbrook Bank Robbery; my May 25 update on the Nathan Hughes photo (he was a black Civil War veteran of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment); and my Sept. 14 piece on how standardized testing in in public schools is virtually eliminating the study and appreciation of local history.

The contest is judged (mostly) by the profs in the journalism department at Northern Illinois University, which gives it a nice academic aura. The person who judged the non-daily column entries had this to say about “Reflections”: “Writing about history is one thing, and writing about now is another, but tying history to the present in a compelling way is a tall order, and Roger Matile does this very well.”

Which made me feel pretty good, because that’s what I try to do just about every week. It’s good to know that a disinterested third party thinks what I think I’m doing seems to be working. And I also get a spiffy framed certificate to hang on my brag wall here at History Central.

Hope you didn’t get too upset, mom…

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5 Comments

Filed under Illinois History, Kendall County, Newspapers, Oswego, People in History

5 responses to “Tiptoeing perilously close to self-praise…

  1. Elizabeth Kolar

    Congratulations, Roger.  I think you are entitled once every 38 years. 

    Always enjoy your column–content and even more the writing. Betty Kolar

    From: historyonthefox To: bkolar651@sbcglobal.net Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 2:18 PM Subject: [New post] Tiptoeing perilously close to self-praise… #yiv4556624229 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4556624229 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4556624229 a.yiv4556624229primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4556624229 a.yiv4556624229primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4556624229 a.yiv4556624229primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4556624229 a.yiv4556624229primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4556624229 WordPress.com | RAM posted: “Self-praise, my mother used to say, stinks. Earthy, but descriptive, and it’s something that’s stuck with me all my life. So it’s probably not an accident that I view the current occupant of the White House with more than a little disdain.And then, as i” | |

  2. catherine boyer

    You make all your history articles interesting and and thats high praise coming from me since I always found it a big yawn. Congrats Roger

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  3. RAM

    Thanks, Cathie! Gerner Anderson is the guy who made history interesting for me. Who knew I’d be writing about it all these years later?

  4. Michele McKenzie

    Congratulations! I recently signed up to receive your blog posts in my inbox and I’ve been enjoying them greatly.

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