Columnist Jim Cahillane: After 30 years of columns, time for reading and reflection


Published: 8/15/2023 6:33:05 PM


In 1993, I accepted an invitation to write an opinion column for my local paper. At age 60, it was a new challenge. Working full time in the 1980s, yet wanting to complete a college degree, I meandered through University Without Walls at UMass Amherst. I happily graduated at 56, returning for an English degree at 67.

My goals: breadth and depth. By then, this column was 7 years old and I had the draft of a first book. Go, Go U, Go UMass!

All grist for my keyboard.

Early in life, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said experience is the key ingredient of sermons. Convincing an audience in person is one set of skills; an opinion column is another.

Contemplating a long life, nostalgia easily leads me astray. Most of my 221 columns were informed by experiences, here and abroad. Living in historic times has been shared with all of you.

Today, I’m of two minds regarding the honor of writing a monthly opinion column. With a few breaks, I’ve touched topics from Red Sox baseball to education, local politics, travel, a dozen presidents and other national disasters.

As the old joke goes, “I believe you, thousands wouldn’t!”

I owe much to my loyal readers; it’s been a privilege.

August 2023 began with the criminal indictment of a former president of these United States. Thirty years ago, my first column recounted meeting U.S. Sen. Jack Kennedy in 1958 and the arrival of William Jefferson Clinton in 1993.

There wasn’t one uneventful year in those 35 years, nor the next 30. It’s said a writer’s life is fodder for future projects. I don’t know about you; today’s news overload makes me weary because I remember times past in living color, which is a blessing.

The America of 2023-24 is in line to be our democracy’s greatest test. Rise up and join its defenders!

At 90, with permission, I’m taking a break.

Longtime columnist and poet Jim Cahillane lives in Williamsburg. Website: Contact:


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