This week marks the ninth anniversary of my debut as a columnist at the Journal. That is officially the longest period of time in which I have been employed in any occupation. Besides publishers Bruce Wallace and Gene Rhorer, I have someone else to thank for my longevity in the newspaper: You the reader.

Travis Naughton

It is flattering and humbling to know that hundreds of people dedicate a portion of their valuable time to reading whatever it is that I have written each week. In these nine years, I have written somewhere in the neighborhood of 450 columns, and I know a significant number of people who can truthfully claim to have read almost every one of them. To those loyal readers, a mere thank you is not enough to show my appreciation. Nevertheless, thank you anyway.

Those of you who have been following the saga of the Naughton family since June 2011 have been there with us as we brought our daughter Tiana home from China. You’ve read about her brothers Alex and Truman and their wonderful mother Bethany, as well. You’ve been invited to tag along on several unforgettable RV adventures, you’ve read about my kids’ achievements in the classroom and on the playing field, and you’ve had a front row seat to a marriage that keeps getting stronger with each passing year.

You’ve read about me becoming an ordained minister and wedding officiant, a public address announcer for local football games and track meets, and a volunteer with the Southern Boone Girl Scouts. And of course, you’ve read countless tales about my exploits as a primary school teacher.

You’ve expressed your support and displeasure with some of my political views that I’ve written about over the years. Let me just say how good it feels when people tell me, “I don’t always agree with what you have to say, but I appreciate being exposed to a different point of view in a respectful manner.” It feels even better to hear, “Thank you for writing about ______. It’s nice to know there are other people in our community who have the same beliefs as me.” 

Of course, it should come as no surprise to anyone that my favorite subject to write about is me. Over the last nine years, you’ve been subjected to more of Travis Naughton than any person should. You’ve read about my ridiculous obsession with automobiles. You’ve learned about my struggles with addiction and mental illness. You’ve cringed at the accounts of the many mistakes I’ve made over the course of my lifetime. And you’ve been there to celebrate my successes, too.

Without a doubt, my biggest success has been my family. I am the proud father of three thoughtful, funny, and loving children. They were the inspiration for the original focus of my weekly column, which I thought about calling “The Stay-at-Home Rollercoaster.” I was, as you might have guessed, a stay-at-home parent at the time. In 2008, I quit my job managing a retail pet food store in Columbia to stay home with two-year-old Truman, whom we adopted in China in November of that year. When we went back to China to be united with Tiana in July 2011, I planned to document my experiences as a stay-at-home parent in the Journal each week.

Eventually, I realized that writing only about parenting was starting to feel repetitive, so I began branching out to other subjects. The rest, as they say, is history. Well-documented history. To date, I have published three compilations of my columns, and I’m well on my way to completing a fourth. All three volumes are available through Amazon—should you feel the urge to support a starving writer/ minister/ substitute teacher/ stay-at-home dad, financially.

You’ve already done more to support me spiritually than I could have ever hoped for. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading and for supporting small town journalism. If you don’t already subscribe to the Journal, I hope that you will consider it. For less than $30 per year, you will get fine local reporting by Carson Blake, Ernie Wren, and my son Alex Naughton. You’ll see pictures of your kids’ school concerts and band performances. You’ll also be able to keep up with youth sports in our area. And you’ll have access to the prose of Cathy Salter and the yammering of yours truly. Southern Boone is incredibly lucky to still have a locally-owned newspaper in this day and age. 

Thank you again for indulging me for the last nine years. I hope you will for many more years to come.