Back in February, when I traveled to Sacramento with my grandson to attend a California News Publishers Association board meeting, a funny incident occurred that some friends suggested I write about.

Carter and I flew up there for a partial week of my work and then a weekend of sightseeing. We packed lightly, taking small suitcases.

A week before the meeting, the directors were challenged by Membership Chair Dean Eckenroth to come up with newspaper names that were not members. Because of newspaper closings and layoffs due to loss of advertising, the number of newspaper members with CNPA has been declining, and that’s unfortunate, because the organization offers such great service for newspapers of any size, particularly with a legal hotline, and lobbying to protect freedom of information and keep government transparent.

The challenge did not come without an award: a bottle of wine. Well, being the wine lover I am, I decided I was going to win that challenge.

So, I did some research and came up with a good-sized list of non-CNPA-member newspapers.

And when the membership part of the meeting came around, I won that bottle of wine. Other directors entered, too, but I had the most names.

Yet Dean didn’t just present any old bottle of wine. He pulled a Jeroboam out of his bag. That’s a big bottle of wine.

Dean is from Coronado. He didn’t bring that bottle of wine on the plane. He bought it in Sac.

Well, I couldn’t put the thing in mine or Carter’s suitcase. It wouldn’t fit. And I certainly couldn’t carry it on the plane because it was a whole lot bigger than the 2 oz. liquid limits TSA allows.

I actually think some of the other directors felt a sigh of relief that they didn’t have to contend with that bottle.

And then I remembered a FedEx down the street about a block-and-a-half away. I took that tote bag of wine, slung it over my shoulder and, with Carter as my sidekick, lugged that thing down the sidewalk to the FedEx. That was a miserable walk with that beast.

We made it and I felt immense relief that I would unload it then and there. But the man behind the counter said they weren’t allowed to ship alcohol. No. Oh, dear. “Who can?” I asked. He said the wine store around the corner could.

Back on the sidewalk with the beast, we slogged to the wine store. A kind lady took the beast and about some of my moolah to ship it back to me in Idyllwild. I’ve never felt lighter on my feet.

It arrived about a week later. And it stayed in my office for all to admire for a couple of months.

On a Monday night a few weeks ago, my 60th birthday was celebrated with friends and that giant bottle of wine. And it went down smoothly. Thank you, Dean!

But the next time he challenges us with an award of a bottle of wine, the meeting had better be in Southern California so I can drive it home.

Becky Clark, Editor