newspaper editor Charlie Meeks shares her travels whether
down the road or around the world whith her readers.
Charlie Meeks has a dream.
She'll leave small town newspaper editing behind, sell everything she
owns, load up the car and hit the highway to see what's around the next
There's so many
people out there I haven't met, so many places I haven't seen
and so much I haven't learned, she says.
The dream should come as
no surprise to readers of The
Cedar County Republican. Charlie edits the Stockton weekly paper,
covers local news and shares the events of her life in a column called
As I Wander.
A recent column described
a weekend getaway to Kansas City which she and her friends imagined
stretching into a permanent road trip. We planned this whole trip
around the United States. We'd write a book about it and make a
movie and we'll all be rich, Charlie recalls.
The big adventure will have
to wait. Until then, there's newspaper deadlines and columns to
Past columns have shared intensely personal experiences such as her
own divorce, holding a 3-week-old grandson born with a life-threatening
heart condition (he's fine now) or recalling the kindness of a
friend now deceased.
Most of her musings are much
lighter, though. In one column she confessed to her fellow Baptists
the transgression of feeding a casino slot machine. Another described
her reaction to unwillingly eating slugs they were presented
as escargot but she knew a slug when she saw it. In slow motion,
I saw that traitor hand slowly lift that slug, and my traitor mouth
opened to let it in. It wasn't bad, she wrote. And
I never did throw up.
Week after week Charlie tells
stories about the little things that happen to her. It doesn't
take long before readers begin to think of Charlie as an old friend.
I write about common
things that they can identify with, she says. I write about
my grandkids, my kids. When I do something really stupid and it's
funny I write about that.
More often than not, Charlie
writes about some trip or adventure. Married for 28 years and the mother
of three daughters, she never had the luxury of traveling far but wanderlust
was in her bones since she was a little girl growing up in Fair Play.
I used to disappear,
she says. I used to take off on my own or I'd go places with
friends. My mother never knew where I was.
Not so her readers. During
her career which has also included stints at The Bolivar Herald-Free
Press and The Lawrence County Record in Mount Vernon
Charlie has kept readers informed of her whereabouts.
Sometimes it's just
a trip down the road. Other times it's a cross-country journey
to see one of her children. Usually there's some anecdote to go
along with the adventure like the time she checked in to a supposedly
haunted hotel in hopes of spotting a ghost but was too scared to leave
When her marriage ended in
divorce, travel became a way of escaping. Charlie decided to take a
trip that more closely resembled her dream. In April of 1999 she left
for a six-month tour of England, staying with a friend she met as a
pen pal years before.
Each week Charlie's
exploits appeared in the three southwest Missouri newspapers where she
had plied her craft. She wrote about everything from getting lost in
London to learning to drive on the right make that
left side of the road to even the bewildering variety of toilets,
or loos, she found in Europe.
Charlie described her fear
traveling the Chunnel, a tunnel that passes under the English Channel,
and her sea sickness during a boat ride. (She did throw up that time.)
Other columns described the food she ate or her impressions of English
It was a great trip.
I just felt like it was a gift, Charlie says. I couldn't
afford it but I felt like I couldn't afford not to do it. So I
just went and things just kept turning up and I got to do so many things
that I would have never, ever expected.
It was an adventure that
touched her readers.
I still have people
tell me they really enjoyed those columns, Charlie says. People
cut them out and put them in their scrapbooks and sent them to other
Back home, Charlie's
travels are less exotic but no less thrilling for the writer with the
itchy feet, as a friend in Tasmania, of all places, described
Any place you go is
an adventure, Charlie says. I just think life is an adventure
so anytime I write I guess it's about a journey of some kind around the world if I ever get that far or it just may be a journey
of the mind or the spirit.