I started working for this magazine somewhere near the beginning of Row 7. At least that's the new perspective around the office, especially among the old-timers. What I'm talking about is the fold-out spread that associate art director Alyse Kordenbrock put together, somehow managing to squeeze 500 covers into two pages. Find them on pages 33 and 34.

Last month was our 500th issue of Columbus Monthly. I figured a spread of Columbus Monthly's covers, from 1 to 500, would be a fitting tribute to more than 41 years of publishing stories about the people and the events of Columbus.

But then something else happened. On the page, it became more than a collection of covers. I started noticing individual issues that seemed like only yesterday actually fell pretty far back on that two-page grid.

I picked up the spread and carried it into my boss's office. Publisher Ray Paprocki started working at Columbus Monthly somewhere around Row 3. I knew he'd dig it. And just as quickly, he fell into staring at the covers. I could sense him trying to wrap his mind around the scope of what he was looking at.

Publishing is a strange business. It's not like other jobs. Month in and month out, we put our work out there for public consumption and we put our names to it. Yes, over 500 issues, we've charted the growth, the progress and the realities of what it means to call Columbus “home.” But it's more than that for those of us who have worked at the magazine. It's a career perspective. It's our life—at least, a big chunk of it. For Ray and me and anyone else who has contributed to these pages, these are not just magazines. They're little scrapbooks.

I can pick up any issue of Columbus Monthly over the past 30 years or so and tell you something about my life. Want to know what I was doing last month? It's there in the January issue. I was working with senior editor Dave Ghose on his profile of OSU president Michael Drake. But just as easily, I can call up other chapters of my life just looking at that two-page spread in this issue. There's that black “Big Ideas” cover of November 2007, when I flew out to Baltimore to spend a few days with the Ravens and their newest rookie quarterback, former Buckeye Troy Smith. Or the April 1998 cover with former Channel 4 anchor André Moreau lifting weights, when I was working on that upsetting story about a collection of confused kids who lived together in the campus area and called themselves the Family, killing one of their own in unimaginable fashion.

Other stories conjure up more than just work memories—the first-person pieces I wrote about teaching my oldest daughter to drive, or gluing my eye shut trying to fix her clarinet for marching band. Those personal chapters are in the pages of Columbus Monthly, too, and in boxes gathering dust in my crawl space. I don't look at them much, but I wouldn't think of getting rid of them. They're my scrapbooks. It's been a pleasure sharing.

Eric Lyttle

elyttle@columbusmonthly.com