Farewell and thank you Hollister

I left my home two years ago and, on somewhat of an impulse,
moved to a place as foreign as Alaska.
Hollister. Meant nothing to me at the time, other than some
tidbits I learned through job-hunting research. You know,
earthquake capital, birthplace of bad-ass bikers, sewage spill
mayhem. All the basics, except one.
I left my home two years ago and, on somewhat of an impulse, moved to a place as foreign as Alaska.

Hollister. Meant nothing to me at the time, other than some tidbits I learned through job-hunting research. You know, earthquake capital, birthplace of bad-ass bikers, sewage spill mayhem. All the basics, except one.

That lousy water.

Didn’t see that advertised on the Chamber of Commerce Web site.

Actually, where I’ve lived the past two years out in the country, I’ve contended with well water and its eggy stench. I’m not sure what’s worse – taking stinky country showers or drinking the city’s water that isn’t necessarily drinkable.

Regardless of all the expected traits about Hollister, I’m leaving this job after next week with a much more knowledgeable view of this place. An appreciation.

It’s a town rich in tradition, eager to show its creativity, strong in family values, flush with talent and filled with opportunity.

People here inspire, such as Pamela Walls, a Hollister woman with a rare neurological disorder causing chronic fatigue and diminishing nerve function. She wrote eight children’s adventure books in two years. She told me in March 2003, even with her shortcomings, “I just get excited about everything.”

People here embrace heritage, whether it’s a pride in Mexican culture, a love for the land, a fascination with biker lore or a fanaticism for Baler athletics.

People here care, such as Marley Holte, who hosts holiday dinners every year for less fortunate residents, who’s desperately trying to open a homeless shelter.

There are so many others who fit that category, so many people who’ve made me a better person, just because I knew them.

For me, though, this decision is about timing. Like when I was 18 and attended college. Or when I graduated and decided to get a job. Going home to Wisconsin just seems natural, and necessary.

Nothing personal against Hollister. This has been the most enriching experience in my 24.8 years of life – written this way, you still round my age down to 20.

I’ll always say good things about this place. I’ll probably even exaggerate about some stuff. Like how great it was being close to the ocean, though I rarely went. Or how terrible the smell of garlic was every time I drove past Gilroy, though the smell of manure in Wisconsin is much worse.

One thing I couldn’t exaggerate about, no matter how hard I try, is the county’s political scene, which I’ve covered as a reporter for more than two years.

Don’t worry. I won’t talk too much about San Benito politics, which I’ll likely describe to strangers as… interesting.

Here’s my motto, excluding discussions with family, very close friends and prospective employers: What happens in Hollister stays in Hollister.

I do actually appreciate the local governments, that they’ve given me plenty to write about, sometimes prompting me to think while working in the newsroom, “I can’t believe I’m actually typing this.”

I just wish they didn’t give me so much to write about. Because it left me fewer opportunities to write about people, the types of stories that define this county’s most precious asset, that can make heroes out of pedestrians, that can make me, and maybe a few others, cry.

That was my biggest regret. You could even call it a mistake.

Then there’s this great newspaper battle going on here, one I believe the 131-year-old Free Lance is soundly, but humbly, winning.

Thank you to the Free Lance management and staff for allowing me to experience Hollister, for being supportive and aggressive, and for always trying to do what’s best for this town’s people.

For two years I’ve done my best to fairly document the issues and events that affect your lives. For that opportunity, thank you.

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