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Recalling names from ‘a while back’

November 17, 2013
Weirton Daily Times

I feel bad when it happens, then apologetic.

It's not entirely uncommon for me to cross paths with people, have them smile and look at me with that "You remember me, don't you" look and then proceed to tell me that I'd done a story on them one time or that I'd been to their home and had taken their picture for this or that.


I'm thinking, I did?

I usually squint on such occasions, expecting that very act alone will somehow bring into focus my powers of remembering, but many times, I'm afraid, the recognition light bulb only flickers on my end, not quite coming into full 100-watt shield-your-eyes I've-got-it! illumination.

Sometimes I remember.

Sometimes I don't.

Considering I've been at the paper since the tail end of 1979, you can do the math and figure that's a lot of paper on the press. A lot of stories. A lot of people.

But I hate it when I can't put a face with a name or a name with a face, and that includes in recent weeks when a lady came to the office to drop something off and told me I'd interviewed her for a story I'd done "a while back."

Now in my defense "a while back" tends to be a little vague. It can cover a pretty broad span of time five years, 10 years, maybe even 20.

And, cut me some slack here, I don't always remember what I did last week.

I squinted, even glanced at the ceiling in hopes of an answer miraculously being there, but alas, this very nice lady looked incredibly unfamiliar to me.

The story I'd done had been one on people's nicknames, that much I did remember once she told me, and I remember that a lot of people had participated in it, but I honestly couldn't recall this lady's real name, nickname, nothing.

I felt bad because I hate to forget a person's name, a basic piece of information you think would be easy to commit to memory.

Even worse is guessing a name and getting it wrong. Really, really wrong, which is really, really bad.

Not being able to recall a name will bug the heck out of me as it did at the November meeting of the Woman's Club of Steubenville.

Somehow at the table where I was seated, the lunch conversation turned to who's the guy who runs Mill Creek Inn, a restaurant in a beautifully restored historic building on county Road 22A in Bloomingdale.

Well, you know how it goes.

You do a roll call of all the names you know ever given to men since the beginning of time, starting with Adam.

You squint.

Do the mental Rolodex. Run through the alphabet. Bite the tip of your tongue where names you can't remember hang out.

And then someone else guessed it - "Roger!" one woman at the table said with rightful victory in her tone. Roger Pyles. Yep, that's it.

I did a story on him, too, "a while back."

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at

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