Three years later, the great John McMeel called and offered to syndicate my column at Universal Press Syndicate, probably because he realized that one day I would be responsible for .0000001 percent of the profits at his now vast publishing empire, Andrews McMeel Universal. John and I met 44 years ago when I was the young editor of a Catholic newspaper in Davenport, Iowa, and he was a freshly minted Notre Dame graduate who wandered into my office one day trying to sell me a column by Loretta Young.
This was likely the only misstep in John's career. The Catholic Messenger was into fierce truth-telling about what was going on in the Church (a reputation that preceded my arrival), and a weekly column by the nicest Catholic woman in Hollywood was not exactly what I was looking for.
When John sent over the syndication contract, I asked Reeves, who had been with Universal for years, about a point or two in the text. He said, "Sign anything they put in front of you. They are the real thing." So I did and never regretted it. They are indeed the real thing, including my incomparable editor, Alan McDermott, who has saved me from folly many times. My advice to aspiring columnists (and op-ed editors) is to head for Universal and sign whatever they put in front of you.
Mostly, though, I want to thank my readers who followed my column so long and so loyally. This includes whole classrooms full of schoolchildren and those who sent family photos, Christmas tree ornaments (a seasonal regular) and long letters on how their daughters and sons are doing at college. A great many collegians wrote in themselves, leading me to believe there is some hope after all for our indoctrination-prone universities.
My best to you all, including the hundred-plus op-ed editors who chose to run the column. Some of these editors featured my column just to challenge conventional opinion in monocultural college towns. You know who you are. I will be setting up a Web site at JohnLeo.com (don't try it now; alas, it's not ready). Readers can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.