Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer

Shortly after we moved to Brookings on July 1, 1989, I found an ad in the Curry Coastal Pilot for a part-time reporter. I was in rehearsals at the time for Chetco Pelican Players first production of a play that was not a melodrama, "You Can't Take It With You."

The young man who was the Pilot's photographer was playing the ingenu lead in the play. When I went to rehearsal's that night, I told him I was thinking about applying for the job at the paper.

"I could do that, couldn't I?" I asked. "Sure, you could do that," he said. So I applied and was hired.

Our kids thought it was a hoot; my husband called me "the oldest cub in the country," and our No. 3 son, Glenn, asked if I would get a byline. I told him I didn't know. I didn't know what a byline was.

But, I'd never let ignorance stop me before, so off I went.

Because I lived in Cape Ferrelo, I was assigned to cover the county since I was a bit more than six miles closer to the county courthouse. I knew even less about county government.

I muddled through, and when that first paper came out with two articles on the front page with my name on them, I went flying down to the port to show my husband, who was down there working on our boat, the Lion's Whelp.

And, it has been a "hoot" for me ever since. However, at 86, I've decided it's time to allow someone else an opportunity to take a whack at the newspaper game. It's loads of fun, and I encourage you to try it.

I still don't consider myself a real "journalist," but I've had a wonderful time the last 20 years asking personal questions I wouldn't dream of asking under any other circumstances.

Actually, my experience is only one of many opportunities that living in a small, warm community can offer. We all know I would never have landed a position on the L.A. Times or the New York Daily News.

I appreciate the fact that the paper's publisher has told me I might be allowed to write an occasional column. That's encouraging because I remember an article somebody put on my desk a few years ago about a woman of 104 who was still writing columns for a paper in Dorris, Calif.

That fits in with my constant insistence that "you've gotta' use it or lose it, body, mind, and spirit." Of course, another of my favorite maxims, "We are not growing old and turning into old gray mares, or stallions or geldings, as the case may be. We are becoming chronologically gifted." And, I can prove that maxim. Just ask me and I'll give you the proof.

But, back to the subject at hand, my sort-of retirement. Those of you who've been my informants and snitches will have to find somebody else at the Pilot office to snitch to, unless of course you have a juicy subject for a column.

I have already warned everybody in the office not to relax too quickly and let their guard down because I plan to be around often to harass and annoy.

They all know my philosophy of life, "If I suffer, everybody should suffer," so get to work. Besides, trials help you become stronger and I don't want anyone to ever say that I would encourage weakness.

So watch for my columns and write letters to the editor saying how wonderful they are, even if you don't mean it. After all, you're supposed to respect and cosset your elders.

Besides, if you really tick me off, I'll write something scathing about you that nobody can prove isn't true.

Or, you can win my undying affection and protection by sharing somebody else's secrets.

And remember, I have always comforted my informants with the true statement, "You don't have to worry about my revealing my sources because I can't remember them."

Uh, what did you say your name was?