Everything must come to an end, and Fast Talk is no different.
It was still shocking to discover that Ron Swift was going to end his long-running column that was a staple in the weekly edition of the Patterson Irrigator. We all, as the staff knew that the column would have to come to a close at some point. Still, despite the anticipation of change, it did not make it any easier when I learned that Ron would submit to us a Fast Talk for the final time. I heard the words, but it was hard to digest that he was putting it to rest.
The column has been running since 1962. With Ron signaling its end, he will take a piece of Irrigator history with him. His commentary on local and national topics has been a welcome addition that readers and staff alike could count on every week when they picked up the newspaper. It’s hard to imagine the Patterson Irrigator without the title Fast Talk inked on one of its pages.
My first exposure to Fast Talk was as a young teenager. I picked up the paper and landed on it when I was browsing through the pages. Initially, I thought it was a really cool name for a column. I was a bit slow on the take to realize that Mr. Swift was having a bit of fun with his last name.
His column was always at the top of the list of reading material from there on out.
Years later, while still a teenager, I attended the Apricot Fiesta, like many other Patterson residents. I decided to pop into the center museum and convinced a few of my friends to join along.
I’ve always been a sucker for history. The subject fascinates me. Much to my surprise, an older gentleman walks up to me and begins to strike a conversation about local history and begins to describe the origins of the historical artifacts.
It was soon I realized I was talking to the man behind Fast Talk himself. I recognized his face from the mug that appears with his column every week in the paper.
Comically it made me nervous. I wanted to tell Ron that I enjoyed his column or acknowledge it at all, but I felt embarrassed to say anything. Instead, we had a friendly chat, and I began looking for the exit when I realized my friends were no longer interested in browsing Patterson’s history the same way I was. I thanked him for sharing his knowledge, and off I went outside back into the summer heat.
In some ways, that interaction stuck with me. Despite eventually working at the Irrigator as a journalist, I still felt like that teenager at the museum when I would talk to him.
His presence at the office was always welcome. His word was always highly respected despite not working in an official capacity at the paper since 2003. He was our connection to the roots of the Irrigator. His dedication and service laid down the foundation that we are all still fortunate to build on.
So let me take the time to say now what I could not get out back when I first met Ron as a teenager.
Your column was something that many readers and I loved reading every week. It was a fixture that we could all count on. Your voice will be sorely missed from the pages of the Irrigator. It will be a void that will prove difficult to fill. You take with you a connection to Patterson’s history.
The Irrigator may have been under no “obligation” to print Fast Talk every week, but it would have been criminal to do otherwise.
Thank you for the years of lending your voice to the Patterson community.