The live album The Last Waltz and the same-named Martin Scorsese film, in part, helped score my late teen and early college years with a sentimental spot, where brain synapses still connect with other synapses to contain all my best ‘70s memories.
The live album and film both featured the ‘60s-’70s group The Band. The Last Waltz literally was the last concert for The Band and featured high-octane live appearances by legends Neil Young, Bob Dylan, EmmyLou Harris, Eric Clapton, and others. In sum, The Last Waltz was The Band throwing a gigantic going away party before breaking up.
You might have yours, but my favorite member of The Band was Robbie Robertson. Perhaps his greatest songwriting achievement was The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, which was sung in gravelly cigarette tenor by drummer Levon Helm. In a Robertson tribute, I’m interjecting first-verse lyrics of Dixie Down throughout this column—just because I’m editor and can do what I want one last time. Similar to The Last Waltz, this Off-The-Cuff column is my swan song after 19 years at your Connect Business Magazine. Rather than Young, Dylan, and Clapton, my “Last Waltz” features VanRoekel, Brenke, and Surprenant.
Virgil Caine is my name and I drove on the Danville train
‘Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
Looking back over these years as editor, I’ve sometimes been taken up in thought by how small the world of business is and how interconnected people are. For example, personally, I learned only by being editor that I had a relative by marriage who managed a Taylor Corporation plant in Indiana and another who was a Ph.D. researcher for a Kentucky feed company Ridley purchased. My life and job have been enriched talking with these relatives and through them getting inside peeks into businesses here.
While editor and interviewing people for cover stories, I gained friends, such as Bill Carlson and Floyd Palmer—men who had little in common, except raw genuineness. I gained a friend in the late Lowell Andreas, who very quietly did so much for so many people. He and I, believe it or not, helped start a Mankato church that still exists. I could mention dozens of other people who enriched my life.
In the winter of ‘65, we were hungry, just barely alive
By May the 10th, Richmond had fell
It’s a time I remember, oh so well
I’m leaving as your editor because in September 2006 I began graduate studies to become a mental health counselor and have had exiting on my mind. Mental health counseling has been my fourth career. Lately, it has been taking up nearly all my time. For the record, my first career involved grocery/drug industry sales (General Mills, and Chaimson Brokerage, ten years), the second wholesale grocery buying (two years, my most favorite job of all), and the third writing/editing (including books and newspaper columns, 21 years). They say people change careers five times before retirement.
Mental health counseling is a cause. I am a post-traumatic stress disorder survivor and desire to do something more in life to help people than edit a magazine my remaining years. (I am 56.) If having to describe myself in one sentence—and my lovely wife probably would agree—I am a person motivated by a rooted Christian faith to improve the human condition and to advocate for others in need. That’s the reason why I also nationally self-syndicate a weekly newspaper column about people with disabilities.
In a similar vein, the aspect about Connect Business Magazine I enjoyed most was being an advocate for business decision makers in our nine-county region. The mainstream media and popular culture often malign and misrepresent people in business and I tried giving you a safe place to tell your stories and shine.
The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringing
My replacement is the accomplished Grace Webb. The March 2015 issue will be 100 percent hers. She has been a radio news director, a daily newspaper reporter, and a freelance magazine writer. In every respect, I am comfortable she will carry on as an advocate for people in business and give you all a fair shake.
I will be training her on January 2, and the rest of January will be hers. You can reach her at email@example.com. If you want me, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at my counseling office at 507-726-6550.
And now, one last time: Thanks for reading southern Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine, since 1994, covering nine counties of southern Minnesota, from Gaylord in the north, Waseca east, the Iowa border south, and west to Springfield. My thanks to Publisher Jeff Irish for granting me the distinct privilege of working with a professional staff these 19 years.
The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the people were singing
They went, “Na,na,na.na,
na na na na na na na na na.”