Hope you had a Merry Holiday... and may your New Year be equally happy and bright.

As you may recall, LAST week I said THIS week I would unveil a major announcement. Well... to get right to it... this is my LAST "By The Way" column.

I could stop there... but some of you may want to know why. (The rest of you can turn to the funny(er) pages.)

For one thing it's certainly NOT because I've run out of material. I have 10 columns in the hopper I haven't run yet... and wont. And new ideas and things I feel warrant conversation pop up every day. (That's what caused that 10 column backlog.)

Actually there are a few primary reasons for my decision to pull the plug on "By The Way".

Reason #1: I agree with Big John Hammer in Tim Timmons' column following the last election ... Government is taking over more and more control of our lives... and those voters who seem to want MORE Government ... not less... have become the majority.

(Truthfully, I've rewritten today's column about 8 times... each time giving more and more examples of why I don't agree with that majority. But then I realized.... further elaboration on reason #1 would be contrary to):

Reason #2: I'm ALSO tired of hearing me GRIPE. So I'll cut out those couple hundred words I just wrote... stop the column... sit back... and watch what happens.

Reason #3: As for the "fun" stuff in the column... I might as well stop that also because of:

Reason #4: Ever since The Paper made the decision a few months back to cut out the "Voices" page in favor of more room for "Sports" ... I feel this column presents a problem with the space it takes-up... as evidenced by one week it was abbreviated and other weeks cut out entirely.

But they're right...this is a NEWSpaper...and you readers deserve having this space used for more "news" not my we(a)kly foolishness.

Reason #5: It's the end of the year... and I've fulfilled my pledge to visit all towns and settlements listed on the front page banner.

Reason #6: (And probably the biggest.) I have too many projects on my plate and need to scrape a couple of them into the sink disposal... "By The Way" will be but one.

And Reason #7: 162 columns is a nice round number to end on... don'jathink?

Now that I ponder over the past.... one thing I DID fail to determine was... Why WOULDN'T Lucille come back where she belong? (I asked my friends about it but all they lips was tight.)

Joking aside... To paraphrase Honest Abe: "The world will little note... nor long remember... what we said here". The time just seems right to pry-open the "In"-door and let this project find its tiny allocation of shelf space in that over-stuffed warehouse of forgotten trivia.

Now don't go off assuming something I DIDN'T say. I did NOT say I was giving up WRITING. I MAY do something again... The word "writing" covers many different aspects. But IF I do anything... it WON'T be "By The Way".

Only one thing is certain...ANYTHING I do in the future... and ALL that I have done in the past... will ALWAYS be available at Merle Norman, 136 WEST Main St. Downtown Crawfordsville.... as long as Betty and I own the store. * * * * *

You and I know every trip eventually comes to the end of the line. Long time readers may recall By The Way column #1 when I paraphrased Betty Davis saying "Fasten your seatbelts... this could be a bumpy ride". Not true... it's been a FUN ride folks... Thanks for your time in the seat beside me.

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'Till we meet again... somewhere...sometime... "Choose to be happy... and keep smiling". (Betty... let's go out for coffee... What'd you do with the car keys?)....... The End.