Three dozen columns sum it up

My tenure as a contributing columnist officially ends today with my 31st column for the Hinsdalean. Adding five written earlier for The Doings brings the total to 36 over 10 years. I've loved the challenge despite sometimes struggling to think up topics and always spending a long time doing the actual writing.

Throughout, I've followed a path of writing about what I knew best. That's why my columns have been filled with personal anecdotes from all stages of my life. Today I'd like to reminisce about my three favorites, briefly recapped here.

At third place is "Guilty/glad about a pink marble slab." In 1999, my husband and I tore down a derelict 100-year-old house to build a new one. However, having thoroughly criticized the teardown mania in Hinsdale, I felt guilty about my double standard. Happily, we salvaged a beautiful pink marble mantle from the old house and eventually repurposed it as a perfect tabletop in my office. It served (and still does) as the vestige of a house that's gone but not forgotten.

Coming in at second place is "Reflections on 5,000 walks," a seven-year collection of observations from walking our dog, Charlie, in town. From impressive beech trees to yard signs supporting charities to delightful holiday decorations, this piece was essentially my love letter to Hinsdale.

The winner, "Ours is a family of immigrants," was based on immigration histories provided by all sides of our family - an extremely collaborative effort. This article recounted our ancestors' brave journeys in the 1700s and 1800s from Germany and England in search of a better life. Also included were diverse stories about more recent arrivals from Ireland, Trinidad, Canada and Nigeria. My family's history made it clear to me that our country must sustain robust immigration.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to the "guest stars" who spiced up the narratives: my ever-patient husband, our kids, their spouses, close relatives and Charlie. Also featured were my father as a Sears employee and my mother as a good-enough cook whose amazing talents lay elsewhere. All of these special people were lovingly portrayed, as was Charlie. Cameos by not so nice people were included without their permission or knowledge!

In a sense, the combined content of 36 articles serves as fairly comprehensive components (that is, those I was willing to share!) of my autobiography. So, yes, I wrote about what I knew - and am grateful to have had the chance to tell my story.

- Sally Hartmann of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].