“This popular game show brought attention to Longmont, Colo. and memories to a local columnist.”
“Ken, what is ‘Jeopardy!’?”
Like a lot of former reporters, I’m a “Jeopardy!” fan. Journalists have a habit of picking up a lot of odd facts in a wide variety of fields – someone once called it a ‘wastebasket mind’ – so the trivia game with the guess-the-question format has a natural appeal.
So when Longmont resident Stephen Webb began racking up the big bucks on the blue board, I got as excited as anyone. At this writing, he’s been the champ for three straight games, living the dream for all of us armchair trivia buffs.
Including one who really ought to be here watching.
My friend Mark Scheidies had a mind made for “Jeopardy!” That’s not just hyperbole. He made the contestant pool six different times. Had the world been different, he’d probably be trying yet again to become the third Longmonter to win big on the show (following both Webb and previous champion Jennifer Giles).
An accident claimed Mark in 2020. But even without a “Jeopardy!” appearance, he still left behind some indelible memories. As a treasured Longmont Theatre Company actor. As a gentle man with a wry sense of humor.
And, for a few months in 2013, as the “Longmont Street Walker.”
It’s not what it sounds like. (That wry humor again.) In 2013, Mark set out to walk every mile of every street in Longmont. It took him over 1.5 million steps, but he did it, blogging the journey after each new expedition.
In the process he rediscovered the city he’d been living in for 30 years. And reintroduced a lot of us to it as well.
“Even though I’ve driven a street many times, there are still things that I will notice walking that I have never noticed driving,” Mark wrote.
Yes. Yes. A hundred times, yes.
I’m not in Mark’s class as a walker OR a trivia champion. (Our epic battle of Trivial Pursuit never did happen, and I’m probably less humiliated for it.) But in my own lengthy walks across Longmont, I’ve noticed the same thing. Driving gives you tunnel vision. Your mind locks on your destination and (hopefully) the drivers around you, but you don’t really experience much beyond that bubble of thought.
Walking forces you to pay attention.
You learn where every dog in the neighborhood is – or at least what their bark sounds like.
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is no longer just a Shel Silverstein poem, but an occasional reality. (And a challenging one if you’re also pushing a relative’s wheelchair, but I digress.)
You discover shortcuts. Faces. Interesting sights that get missed at 30 mph but become glaringly obvious at one-tenth that speed.
In short, you learn to see. And that’s a rare skill.
J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote of the importance of “recovery,” the ability to clean off your mental windows and actually notice things that have become commonplace. It means not just telling yourself “oh, another tree,” so you can put it in its box and move on, but actually seeing the tree as though you had never seen one before: its texture, its color, its life.
Life at walking speed makes a good window-cleaner. No bubble, no isolation – just a world close enough to touch, or at least to notice.
Mark’s blog Is still up at www.longmontstreetwalker.com. The sidewalks await any time. It doesn’t have to be an epic journey. Even a few steps can make a big difference.
And if you plan it right, you’ll even get home in time for “Jeopardy!”