A good move

In my late 20s I realized I needed to start thinking more seriously about my career. I had spent several years in radio, a year as a newspaper sports editor and was now selling advertising for the Sioux City Journal.

Selling advertising was a challenging job but it bought a better grade of hamburger and I was enjoying some success. This could be a career, I decided, and I committed myself to learn as much about it as possible.

Shortly before turning 34 I was named advertising manager of the Sioux City Journal.

As much as I enjoyed advertising, I still had a heart for the news side of the business. The next career move, I determined, would be the position of publisher where I would be responsible for the entire newspaper operation.

We had strong family ties in Iowa but the publisher opportunities for which I qualified were out of state. A newspaper industry head hunter called about a possible publisher job in Iowa down the road but could give me no details or a timeline. At the same time a national newspaper chain began recruiting me for an advertising management position.

As I flew home from an interview at their national headquarters I weighed my options. The big newspaper corporation moved their managers frequently and I didn’t want that for our children. Yet, they offered a fast-track up the ladder.

The next day the head hunter called and told me the publisher position was in Creston in southwest Iowa. We knew little about Creston but my wife and I had moved to Sioux City from Webster City 14 years earlier and figured we would be comfortable back in a smaller town.

One thing led to another and on a wintery evening in January 25 years ago I left our home in Sioux City for a job interview in Creston the next day.

The Illinois company that owned the newspaper in Creston had made a reservation for me at the downtown hotel there. When I told the desk clerk my name and that I had a reservation she exclaimed, “Welcome to Creston, Mr. Huisman, we’ve been waiting for you!”

“You have?” I asked, bewildered.

“Yes, the rest of your friends are already here. Do you want me to call one of them for you?”

I had not yet met the CEO of the newspaper company and had no idea who my other “friends” might be. I politely declined the offer but made a mental note that Creston was much friendlier than the cities I visited regularly on behalf of the Sioux City Journal. No hotel desk clerk in Chicago ever told me that he or she was waiting for me. Thankfully.

The interview went well and a few days later I received an attractive offer which I accepted. We took the kids to Creston the next weekend. They made it clear they weren’t at all enthused about leaving their friends in Sioux City.

When I pointed out the small downtown movie theater in Creston our daughter asked how many screens it had. She was shocked when I said, “One.”

She was accustomed to the multi-screen theaters in the city and couldn’t understand how a theater could have only one screen. She was even more disappointed when she asked to visit the mall and I told her there wasn’t one.

After settling in, my wife and I discovered that 14 years in a larger community had changed us to some degree and it was tougher acclimating to small town life again than we had expected. Yet we had lumps in our throats at the end of moving day when we locked up our now empty Creston house and headed for Ankeny. We left a number of friends behind.

Both of our children did well in the Creston schools. My wife found her career niche at Southwestern Community College and that led to a quick hire at Des Moines Area Community college when we moved to Ankeny. I worked for an excellent company (and boss) and was exposed to many more opportunities than if I had stayed at my previous job.

Decisions about changing jobs and moving are almost always difficult. Our decision to move to Creston 25 years ago proved to be a good one.