504,576,000 seconds

That’s how many moments of my life I’ve spent working for this institution labeled “The Madera Tribune.” Roughly 16 years of my life, I’ve spent in dedicated service to it, and its owner, Charles Doud. In all the seconds, all those moments, it only took a single one to forever change my mindset on the cruelty that is time.


A new time track begins; one that, however, does not include Mr. Doud in the living world. This seems to be a running subject with me; having to write these things about the dead, what they mean to me. It never gets any easier.


I met Chuck in the summer (or early fall) of 2004, as my brother, Gabriel, was soon to vacate his role as paginator and asked me if I wanted a job. I’d recently graduated from Madera High School at the time, unsure of what I really wanted to do with my life, so I took the opportunity given. I can’t say whether Chuck was skeptical of my capabilities or not, but the fact that I’ve been employed with the Tribune as long as I have been is a measure of that, I suppose.


There are so many facets of this job that I’ve learned along the way, but one thing that I’ve come to learn is having pride in something. As I’m writing this, I find myself locked in nostalgia, watching examples of underdogs overcoming the odds in disputes. As Tribune columnist Bill Coate made note in his past column (“Chuck Doud was a believer”), Mr. Doud, and — namely — the Tribune, itself, are much like underdogs. For more than 100 years, this institution has stood the test of time.


But times certainly have changed.


Madera, and the world, at large, have come face-to-face — so-to-speak — with the pandemic known as COVID-19. Daily lives have shifted from ones of carefree socializing to distanced measures between individuals. Various cities (on lockdown) have seen dwindling business, even permanent closures. So far, the Tribune has remained, but how much longer that will be the case relies on you, the reader.


Mothers, fathers, teachers, business owners, organizations. The Tribune exists because YOU exist. Advertisers, subscribers, those of you who buy the paper at the racks. I owe all of these years, this time, these moments to you. It’s because of you, I was afforded the privilege of being able to work for The Madera Tribune and its patriarch, Chuck Doud. All 504,576,000 of them.


All of its employees, and several members of the community of Madera were asked to provide memorials for Chuck, which we published in the January 16 edition of the Tribune, but thinking about how to condense 16 years of my life into something as simple as this writing still isn’t enough to express what I really wish to, but it will simply have to suffice, for now.


But, perhaps Madera will understand the importance of this institution. As much as I understand how the times have changed, and the continuing encroachment of online news reporting’s importance, this may be the first time I admit to understanding Mr. Doud’s viewpoint.


Radio v. Newspaper?


Newspaper’s still here.


Television v. Newspaper?


Still here.


Internet v. Newspaper?


The fight still continues. How long till a true victor is declared is up to you, Madera.


Will you let all this time — my 504,576,000 moments, plus more than 100 years — of being a record of Madera go? All the work Chuck Doud, his predecessor, Les Hayes, and his predecessor, Dean Lesher — does it mean enough to you, Madera, to keep record of this town, of your lives? Of your moments, which dwarf mine by comparison?


Will you just remember The Madera Tribune, or will you continue to be a part of it?


So much time, so many moments of this town I call home… will you begin to count the seconds of life you’ve lived after reading this?


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this institution, Chuck. I am forever grateful to have had the privilege of learning what it means to take pride in my hometown because of you. I’ll never forget all the moments I’ve had, being a part of the family called The Madera Tribune.


— With utmost respect and love,


Benjamin Falcon,


Madera

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