Saturday, December 15, 2012

Goodbye in Her Eyes

The Zac Brown Band has a really cool song called "Goodbye in Your Eyes."

I keep playing and listening and can't seem to get enough of it.

Turn up your sound, click here and enjoy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The general and the woman

I'd like anyone's thoughts on this question:

Why did David Petraeus resign his position as head of the CIA and commander in chief of all troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

I keep hearing it was because of his dalliance (okay more than a dalliance) with Ms. Paula Broadwell of Charlotte, N.C. The national defense experts and journalistic pundits say Gen. Petraeus' indiscretions made him potentially susceptible to blackmail and thus, by inference (I guess) put him in a vulnerable position where he'd have to reveal some of our nation's most sensitive military and spy secrets.

But I'm scratching my head. There was a guy (Bill Clinton) back in the late 90s privy to the most sensitive military and intelligence secrets in America.

He messed around outside of his marriage with a woman named Monica.

He got caught and he lied about it.

But he didn't resign.

And he didn't get fired.

Many even say that if he'd been able to run for a third term in office, he'd have been re-elected.

Clinton came to be known as the "comeback kid," and this enormously popular former president played a big part in getting President Obama re-elected to a second term.

So help me square David Petraeus with Bill Clinton.

Please give me your thoughts.

Meanwhile, I'll keep scratching my head.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Expert on PR shares views with my class

Winthrop colleague Judy Longshaw shared her views on working professionally in public relations with students in my mass communication survey class today.

Turn your sound up and have a look/listen:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sh%t Southern Women Say

If you live in the South and you're a woman (or a man with a southerner) you can relate to this video.

Got it today from a Tennessee gal I work with.

Sums up the southern way of expressing whatever.

Turn up your sound and enjoy this piece about "mom 'n 'em':

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Unthanks

Heard colleague Guy Reel listening to a fresh, intriguing sound

this morning. It comes from "Songs From the Shipyards," by The Unthanks (a British group.)

Click here--and then on the player on right side of the web page--for a cool new sound.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Class act on the field when Gamecock hurt

I've been watching football for about 50 years---pee wee, high school, college, professional.

So I've seen a lot of what makes this game so addictive--speed, strength, ballet-like coordination and balance, drive, determination and competitiveness, last second heroics...

But I've never witnessed the humanitarian good will and prayers extended by players of the opposing, visiting team when the home team's best player suffered a serious (maybe career ending) injury.

That happened yesterday at Williams-Brice Stadium (home of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks) when the Gamecocks battled the visiting University of Tennessee Volunteers.

When star Gamecock running back Marcus Lattimore got hit with a vicious (but legal tackle) to his left knee, bringing him to the ground writhing in pain, paramedics raced out onto the field to attend to him.

The 90,000-plus fans at the stadium (Gamecock and Volunteer fans) went silent and lots of them said a silent prayer for Lattimore, I'm sure.

And then something really remarkable happened: Players from the University of Tennessee walked out onto the field, kneeled next to the hurt Gamecock player and prayed or bowed their heads respectfully.

Gamecock players followed suit.

Players from both benches soon surrounded Lattimore, still in excruciating pain, while medical personnel continued to work on him.

Lots of folks teared up--including yours truly.

Even the sideline reporter for the network that broadcast the game got emotional.

One of the color coverage reporters in the broadcast booth put it well: Marcus Lattimore is not only an excellent football player, he's also an excellent man. And all those players paying their respects are his brothers.

Football's a rough, demanding sport, but it also has a tender side.

Here's a YouTube clip of what I'm talking about. Bear in mind, it's a seven-minute clip (has a commercial or two in it) but be patient. You'll see something very special.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Crappy fonts

Colleague Guy Reel sent me this video titled "If Movies Had Crappy Fonts."

Click here to have a look/listen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Caroline Cooney--prolific author

I'm always impressed with published writers. So imagine how much I was moved when I got the opportunity to listen to and meet Caroline B. Cooney.

That's Caroline with yours truly in the photo accompanying this blog post.

Cooney has written more than 90 suspense, mystery and romance novels for teens. These 15 million copies have been published in multiple languages, and one of her books--The Face on the Milk Carton--became a television movie.

Meanwhile, I've yet to publish my first book, but I'm trying. Hopefully my co-author (Michael Manuel) will complete it and get it published next year. (It's a Civil War-era set novel about romance, betrayal and murder in a small mountain community in Tennessee.)

Cooney spoke last week at a dinner for the "Friends of Dacus Library." She saluted libraries as the "caretakers of knowledge" and urged the "Friends" to continue their good work of financially supporting our university's library.

Later, Dacus Dean of Library Services Mark Herring spoke of how these were uncertain times for many libraries--given the financial straits universities find themselves in and given, too, that some folks believe (erroneously) that the Internet or electronic data bases of information are fast making libraries obsolete.

But libraries like Dacus are here to stay. Bless Cooney, Herring and all those of their ilk who remind us of their value.

We need that gentle reminder from time to time.

The library as the "caretaker of knowledge."

I like that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Email might be the best form of writing

Veteran Charlotte Observer columnist/sports writer Tom Sorensen said recently that he thinks email is the best form of writing. His reasoning: email is terse, to the point and clear. There's no mistaking what most of us mean when we put our thoughts in writing in an email.

Sorensen knows a bit about writing.

He's an award-winning journalist (many, many awards) for the Observer, where he's worked for the past 25 years (20 of those writing about sports.) He's interviewed the likes of Steve Smith, Cam Newton, Jake Delhomme, Larry Johnson, Dale Curry and Mugsy Bogues. (Remember those magical years of the Charlotte Hornets?!)

Frank Barrows, former managing editor of the Charlotte Observer and currently president of the Charlotte Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, says Tom is the best sports writer in North Carolina.

The man who's written hundreds of thousands of words about the Hornets, Bobcats and Panthers is also a cancer survivor.

I'll never forget that a few years ago the Winthrop chapter of SPJ invited Sorensen, a native Minnesotan, to come be our guest speaker at Winthrop. The sportswriter was too weak to come to Rock Hill but he met us for dinner (half way between Charlotte and Rock Hill) at Shoneys. He had just gotten off a jet from Phoenix, where the Panthers played an NFL game.

Today, judging from his appearance last week at a Charlotte Pro SPJ chapter event, the accomplished journalist seems much stronger.

We at Winthrop wish him the very best. And we'll keep in mind what he said about email.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Truth decay

Mike Lowery, pastor of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, spoke about "truth decay" last Sunday in his sermon.

I had never heard of "truth decay," but it seems to be pervasive in our modern culture.

Truth decay, according to Lowery, is the idea that anything goes, anything is acceptable or anything that you say or do is okay.

Unfortunately, it is in our families and our personal lives, Lowery said.

It's easier to lie and be accepted by others than it is to tell the truth.

For if you tell the truth, you're viewed as being intolerant or judgmental, he said.

Evidence of "truth decay," he noted, runs rampant in our "post-modern, relativistic world."

On the other hand, the Bible, God's divine word to us, says: "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Strong words that should guide us.

You know one historic figure who didn't live by them?

His name was Joseph Goebbels, right-hand man to Hitler and minister of propaganda for the Third Reich.

This is what Goebbels declared:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie,

and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Lowery and the Bible have it right. Goebbels is rotting in hell.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

iPad gets Hitler's dandruff up!

I'm leading a high school workshop session today on iPad storytelling. Related to that, I've just encountered this video of Adolph Hitler's extreme distaste/hatred

for this Apple product.

Turn your sound up and enjoy:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Case of the purloined apple

Here's a short video that Winthrop University student Jennifer Dean created about a stolen apple in the mass comm. department at Winthrop University.

It stars you know who!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Recorded conversations about that fateful day

A year or so ago I blogged about the anniversary of the hijackings on Sept. 11, 2011.

Yesterday, of course, we marked the 11th anniversary of this tragedy.

To revisit the recorded conversations

of the air traffic controllers trying to make sense of all the terror in the air on Sept. 11, turn up your sound and click here.

Riveting stuff.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Watch out for the boomers...

Here's an article co-written by friend Jamie Chrisman

Low and myself. It appeared in the September 2012 edition of Publishers' Auxiliary.


"Fifty Shades of Grey" a blockbuster book

In the only course I'm teaching this semester we are currently focusing on books as a form of mass communication.

And you can't discuss books in this day and age without mentioning the number one best-selling novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James.

I've learned that "Fifty Shades..." is selling at the rate of one book per second.

If you haven't read James' novel, brace yourself for sexually steamy literature. James said she conceptualized her book by doing research in the bedroom, watching sexually graphic movies and getting tidbits of info. from other sources. Wonder who/what those may have been?

The housewife and mother she was inspired to write it after reading the vampire "Twilight" series.

Here's an interview with Ms. James:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The late, great Michael Jackson said it best...

This blog post's for my mass comm. faculty colleagues. Just call my name and I'll be there (to be your sub if you're out of town and need me to take your class.)

Come to think of it, here's a song that captures what I'm trying to express. Turn up your sound:

Strange stuff about amputation

I've been researching and writing about amputation of human limbs in the Civil War and have come across some curious (and grisly) stories.

One is about a man who a few years ago used a pocket knife to slice off his own hand--to save his life--when he accidentally got his limb caught in a cornpicker.

The video for that piece accompanies this blog post.

Another article--in the news just a few days ago--is about a character in S.C. who's accused of cutting off another person's hand so that he (the alleged cutter) could collect insurance money.

I've always said that dogs are better than people. If you don't believe me, do your own browsing of the net and discover what horrible deeds (mutilation and amputation) people do to their fellow human beings.

I recall, too, a crime that occurred in Iowa when I lived there decades ago as a graduate student. Seems a prominent chiropractor had been accused of sawing off the arms and legs of his wife and dumping her torso in a remote wooded area.

The saying at that time was: She wanted a divorce but he gave her a separation.

Now, back to the video of the cornpicker victim:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Go figure

While I'm on the subject of Sunday worship, something has troubled me the last few weeks.

It's the news out of the hills of West Virginia that a pentacostal holiness preacher died from a rattlesnake bite.

Seems Pastor Mack Wolford, 44, was handling the snake during a May 27 church service when the creature bit him on the thigh.

Pastor Wolford was a true believer in the Word of God, and he took seriously what Jesus said--as recorded in the Book of Mark in the New Testament:

"They shall take up serpents; and if they drink of any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them."

Wolford, like other snake-handling preachers, asserted that Christians should handle poisonous snakes as a test of their belief in God. Snake handling is thus a testimony of their faith in the Almighty.

Guess the snake had not read the Bible.

Another thing: Pastor Wolford died the same way as his dad did. He definitely knew the risk, but held the serpent anyway. He recalled in an interview with a Washington journalist, for example, that his father lived 10 and one-half hours after being bitten: "And when he got bit, he said he wanted to die in the church. Three hours after he was bitten his kidneys shut down. After a while, your heart stops."

Horrible way to check out, I'd say.

Handling a rattlesnake as a testimony of your faith?

Sorry but I don't buy it. Seems more like a testimony of your stupidity.

God never meant for us to put our lives in jeopardy.

Stay away from rattlesnakes!


It's Sunday, a day or rest and reflection and worship. I went to church this morning, and heard a good sermon from Pastor Mike Lowery of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill.

He spoke of the correct way to be a parent--always a challenge. I came away from his message with this: We never quite finish being a parent. We raise our kids and they come back to us or move back in. And even if they don't move back in, they always need us--even till our 80s or 90s. They look to us for wisdom, guidance and support--always.

And we always need kids or to be around kids. They help keep us young and unselfish.

Never thought of it that way, but seems very much on target. Thanks, Mike.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jazzy stuff at Snucks grocery store in St. Louis

Hey there.

Been awhile since the old guy posted, but I've just returned from a trip to St. Louis, Mo., where I visited by oldest daughter and her family.

Definitely a memorable time in the Midwest, what with the 107-degree temperatures on three or four straight days, and keeping up with my two granddaughters. One is 15 months old, and I call her "Rolley Polley." The other is two-and-a-half years old. She's my "Rang Tang."

Well, we stayed busy the entire time, and the old guy had a grand time with Rolley Polley and Rang Tang.

We read.

We played with toys.

We swam.

We rollicked in the swings.

We played under a big fountain in a park.

We bottle-fed goats.

We road trains and trams and saw exotic animals from Africa and the islands off the coast of South America. (The biggest turtle I've ever seen poked along and posed for our cameras.)

We sang and we danced.

We bounced around, here and there, throughout St. Louis, and I learned how to fasten and unfasten both of them, in fairly quick order, in their car seats. (No easy thing in such torrid heat!)

We ate like kings and queens throughout my stay. (Daughter knows how to cook.)

Rolley Polley and Rang Tang got their food all over the place--in their hair, all over themselves and any furniture or floor within range.

When they napped, we napped. (The only time you get rest when you have such live wires in the house! Daughter says having a 2-year-old is like having a blender without a lid.)

One highlight of my stay was a visit to Schnucks grocery store. Well, we're sitting there in the dining area devouring our food, and I hear this soft, smoothe jazz. It seemed to be coming from the produce section, about 40 feet from our table.

And there they were, a three-person band making music next to the cantelopes. This is something you don't see in a grocery store in South Carolina. But in laid-back

Missouri, folks do their shopping at Schnucks and get entertained.

Below is a clip of the bongo player in that band. Take it away, produce rhythm master!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Guess who's celebrating a birthday today?

Yes, it's my 64th.

I've come a long way since being born naked, squabbling and hungry.

Came into the world at a hospital at Eglin Field Air Force Base in Florida.

(Still today squabbling and hungry.)

Has been a good day (so far.)

Cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the new grill I recently bought my Mom.

Swapped lies and dessert with guests, who cheerfully warbled "Happy Birthday" to the old guy.

Went for a swim. What better way to cool off on a 100+ degree day in Elizabethton, Tenn.?

To help mark my 64th birthday, here's a fitting song from the Beatles, titled (what else?) "When I'm 64."

Turn your sound up and enjoy and dream of turning 64; if you're lucky, you, too, will hit this milestone (or it'll hit you).

Catchy opening words to this song from the 60s:

"When I get older, losing my hair,
Many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a valentine?
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I'd been out to quarter to three,
Would you lock the door?

Will you still need me,
Will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty four?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Won't ever forget my Dad

Tomorrow will be my first Father’s Day ever without my Dad.

We lost him in late January earlier this year, just a few days shy of his 91st birthday. I blogged about him a few days after we laid him to rest.

I miss you, Dad.

Last night I tried to remember some of his favorite sayings. Here are a few:

1. “Not a bit a’ danger.”

2. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”

3. “You think rasslin’ on TV is fake. Lemme see you climb into the ring with one of those guys!”

4. “None of these preachers today want to talk about the stuff that really matters. Things like divorce, adultery, living in sin…”

5. “The young people call it ‘having a relationship with someone.’ They can call it want anything they want to, but it’s just plain ole shacking up.”

6. “I think the stupidest expression I’ve ever heard is: ‘It is that.’ What the heck does that mean?”

7. “Man who sleeps with a dog lies down with fleas.”

8. “Man who flies upside down has crack up.”

9. “You don’t know what work is. Why, when I was a boy I hoed corn on a hill in the hot sun for ten cents an hour.”

10. “I don’t want to hear about anybody’s stupid medicine. That’s all people wanna talk about.”

11. “People’s dying that’s not ever died before.”

12. “Whenever you want to spend your hard-earned money, ask yourself: Do I want this? Or do I need this? Don’t buy it unless you actually need it.”

13. “People are digging their grave with a fork and spoon.”

14. “You can’t really get away with anything in this life. My grandparents and parents used to tell me: ‘Be sure your sins will find you out.’”

15. “Those stupid people on their cell phones in Wal-Mart. . . You get behind one of those fat women waiting in line at the cash register and she’s yakking away, staying stupid stuff like: ‘Where you at?’”

16. “Anybody can have a birthday? What’s the big deal about a birthday?”

17. “I’m hungry. When do we eat? What’s the holdup?”

18. “Why do all these stupid people think they have to have a present for Christmas? Why, when I was a boy, we’d be lucky to get an orange or apple and piece of stick candy. And some kids didn’t even get that.”

19. "People ask me if a dog or a snake or a cat will bite. I always point to the animal's teeth and say, "Whaddya think those are for?!'"

Dad, you were truly a cantankerous, one-of-a-kind character. Will never forget after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I finally was awarded my Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. You couldn't have been prouder. And when I received my degree, I made a copy of it for you. You framed it and hung it on your den wall, boasting to everyone that you had earned your Ph.D. from Iowa. And who was to know any different? After all, we had the same name!

We love you and miss you. It’s just not the same at the old home place in Tennessee any more. But Mom and the rest of us are trying to keep our spirits up, and we are putting one foot in front of the other (taking one day at a time).

Because what else can we do?

A happy posthumous Father’s Day to you, Dad.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Remembering Gene Pitney

Lots of you have never heard of Gene Pitney, but he's in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

Before there was the British invasion, there was G.P.

He was born in 1941 and died in 2006. He was once called the world's greatest male vocalist.

Lately some of his songs seem to be coming back to me. I remember listening to him while I was a lowly airman in the USAF (late 60s.) Maybe I'm trying to revisit my youth?

The guy could definitely warble.

Pitney songs that will live forever include:

1. 24 hrs. from Tulsa

2. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

3. It Hurts To Be In Love

4. Town Without Pity

5. Only Love Can Break A Heart

Turn your sound up and click on the hotlinks for each song. Relive the Pitney magic.

The 60+ crowd misses you, Gene.

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to make sense of this?

Just heard about this tragedy in the mountains of N.C. near Boone. How could this have happened? Everyone in that church is now being tested. How strong is their Christian faith?

Here's the story:

Young girl killed by tombstone at church

Published: June 11, 2012 at 1:12 PM

DEEP GAP, N.C., June 11 (UPI) -- A 4-year-old North Carolina girl died after a tombstone at a church cemetery fell on top of her, officials said.

The girl, Peyton Townsend, was killed Friday night, just before she was to attend a vacation Bible school study at Mount Paran Church in Deep Gap, WSOC-TV, Charlotte, reported.

Pastor Rick Cornejo said several children were running around in the church backyard Friday before Bible study.

The girl was standing on a headstone when a massive cross fell on top of her, crushing her, Cornejo said.

Church members said they are in shock.

"There's no more smiling or thinking of good things after this," said church member Seth Miller. "You're just thinking, 'oh my God, someone died here.'"

A dog named "Faith"

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I love dogs. Nothing more inspiring than an uplifting dog story.

That said, this post is devoted to a dog named Faith.

I learned about Faith from Patrick, my son-in-law in St. Louis, Missouri.

Here's what Patrick sent me about this remarkable dog:

This dog was born on Christmas Eve in the year 2002. He was born with 2 legs

He of course could not walk when he was born. Even his mother did not want him.

His first owner also did not think that he could survive and he was thinking of 'putting him to sleep'.

But then, his present owner, Jude Stringfellow, met him and wanted to take care of him.

She became determined to teach and train this little dog to walk by himself.

She named him 'Faith'.

In the beginning, she put Faith on a surfboard to let him feel the movement.

Later she used peanut butter on a spoon as a lure and reward for him for standing up and jumping around.

Even the other dog at home encouraged him to walk..

Amazingly, only after 6 months, like a miracle, Faith learned to balance on his hind legs and to jump to move forward.

After further training in the snow, he could now walk like a human being.

Faith loves to walk around now.

No matter where he goes, he attracts people to him.

He is fast becoming famous on the international scene and has appeared on various newspapers and TV shows.

There is now a book entitled 'With a Little Faith' being published about him.

He was even considered to appear in one of Harry Potter movies.

His present owner Jude Stringfellew has given up her teaching post and plans to take him around the world to preach that even without a perfect body, one can have a perfect soul'.

In life there are always undesirable things, so in order to feel better you just need to look at life from another direction.

I hope this message will bring fresh new ways of thinking to everyone and that everyone will appreciate and be thankful for each beautiful day.

Faith is the continual demonstration of the strength and wonder of life.

Amen, Patrick, and thanks for sharing!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tiger back on the prowl

I blogged on May 7, 2012, that Tiger Woods would inevitably be back--as in back bigtime.

I based that blog post in part on an amazing shot that he hit on the ninth hole (second round) of the Wells Fargo Championship.

I was there--just a few feet away, while Tiger, using a wedge, launched his ball off the pine needles, then high above the trees and onto the green--about 175 yards away.

Saw that stunning shot.

No, Tiger did not make the cut in that tournament, but that one swing offered a harbinger of things to come.

A few days ago, he hit another AMAZING SHOT in the final round of The Memorial in Dublin, Ohio. Jack Nicklaus called it the best shot, under the extremely trying circumstances, that he had ever seen.

"It was really, really unbelievable, particularly because of the position he was in," Nicklaus told Jim Nantz of CBS moments later. "He hits it short the tournament is over. He hits it long the tournament is over. He put it in the hole. Unbelievable."

Some people called it a flop shot. Others, a chip shot.

Whatever. Tiger won The Memorial and now is ranked the fourth best player in the world.

In case you missed it on TV, here's that historic "flop shot" at the Memorial:

Salt air, waves, sand and fun

Ran across this slideshow of a history of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Happens to be one of my favorite places in the entire world.

This is the Myrtle Beach that our parents and grandparents may have visited.

Turn your sound up and take it all in:

Friday, May 25, 2012

One high school teacher needs more training

After hearing about a heated classroom exchange between a high school student and his teacher, you wonder how many OTHER teachers are similarly ignorant of everyone's First Amendment freedoms.

Seems the student had something borderline critical to say about President Barack Obama.

The teacher suppressed/muzzled/gagged the student bigtime.

You don't dare say anything negative about the president of the U.S. in at least one classroom in Rowan County, N.C.

Turn your sound up and have a listen:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Edited/condensed sidebar for Guy's book

Time to rethink an old “rule” of ethics
By Lawrence Timbs

Ask professional journalists or editors about their stance on prepublication review by a source, and you’re likely to get that familiar flinch or bristle that you’re even broaching that question.
They’re prone to note that as professionals, they’ve been well trained in collecting, writing and packaging information. Accuracy, many will emphatically insist, is journalism’s holy grail.
Furthermore, in a digital environment, where there’s a never-ending rush to break or post stories online, who’s got the time or patience to run a story by a source for review and fact checking? And besides, once a story goes online, readers have plenty of opportunities to point out errors.
Never mind that a source unknowingly or unintentionally got a fact wrong or may have violated someone’s privacy, or, worse, libeled someone and thus has potentially put the news outlet and others in legal jeopardy.
Prepublication review in an online news environment?
Nah! Ain’t gonna happen.
But maybe it should—at least in some instances.
Will the sky really fall if a source politely asks to review a story before it’s posted or published, and the news outlet consents? Will the First Amendment champions of freedom and independence go into convulsions?
After all, a sizable percentage of Americans, according to a 2009 report from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, have very little confidence in the accuracy and fairness of information from the news media.
And journalists, if they truly honor their own codes of ethics, should not be above or beyond the notion of prepublication review.
Yet, still, even in today’s online news environment, where getting the story out first so that it can then be instantly picked up (with all its potential errors), prepublication review seems anathema.
Why such a railing, in newsrooms, against this sort of commitment to accuracy and responsibility to readers?
Perhaps it stems from professional arrogance. It’s as if journalists and their sources—as well as their readers—are at odds with one another. Little wonder there’s all that recoiling at the idea of prepublication review.
My own experience with prepublication review wasn’t bad. In retrospect, while it may have smarted just a tad, I learned something very valuable and became a better journalist for it.
It occurred in 1979 or 1980. Can’t remember the exact year but one of those, I believe.
I was general manager/editor of a twice-a-week 8K-circulation community newspaper in rural south-central Illinois.
I had heard about a physician in the local community who faithfully and rigorously jogged every day for exercise. He was pretty well known and respected, as I recall, and seemed to be in excellent health. He regularly ran marathons (26+ miles).
What really got my attention as a journalist/editor was when this same physician suddenly had a massive heart attack. In those days, as I recall, it was believed that someone who ran marathons was immune to having a heart attack.
So, again, my journalistic antenna went up when this well-known paragon of fitness physician had to be transported by ambulance to St. Louis for life saving heart surgery.
He survived the surgery and returned a few weeks later to his practice in the town where we circulated our newspaper.
I called him and asked if he would consent to being interviewed about what he had been through, and explained to him that my story angle would be that he had proven the exception to the commonly held belief that you-can’t-have-a-heart-attack-if-you-run-a-marathon.
He agreed to talking with me for the record.
After I had written my story and a day or so before we went to press, he called me and asked politely if he could review the story before it was published.
Trying to contain my frustration, I politely explained that we had a firm policy at the paper against pre-publication review and that he had nothing to worry about. I assured him that I would be accurate and ethical and that the story would generally be an upbeat piece about how he had survived a heart attack.
But he still insisted on reviewing my story before it was published.
Again, I resisted, but again he pressed me for giving him the chance to look over what I had written.
“You know, Larry, I agreed to talk to you when you contacted me. Seems like you could extend this one courtesy to me,” he said. “If not, I won’t ever have anything to do with your newspaper again.”
I told him I’d consider his request.
You know what?
After a sleepless night, I ended up the next morning inviting him to come to my office to read the story before I submitted it for publication.
The guy came. I handed him the story. He retreated to my office, spent about 15 minutes in there with the story and exited with a smile and a handshake. He thanked me for doing a very good job.
I recall that he requested only one minor word change of what I had written.
In retrospect, yes, I had violated our paper’s stringent prohibition against pre-publication review.
But I had also gained.
I had cultivated and maintained a contact with an excellent source of information in our community—one that the newspaper would rely upon many times in the future, as it turned out.
Bottom line: In a small community, you as an editor or journalist should try never to burn a bridge or alienate a valuable source.
Even if it means you have to adjust your ethics.
Okay, all this happened to me eons ago—way before the Web and before journalists had to scramble to deal with not only posting printed stories but also creating videos and podcasts of those same stories. My story was a simple human interest feature about a local doctor who had miraculously survived a massive heart attack, not about a potentially libelous topic or deep dark scandal.
What I wrote was not risky or legally troublesome, and still I relented to prepublication review. And things turned out pretty well.
If prepublication review can help improve, even just a little, the accuracy and fairness of information in today’s demanding digital news environment, media professionals should not be so quick to dismiss it. After all, the premiums today on truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility are the same as they were in 1980.

—Lawrence Timbs is an associate professor of mass communication at Winthrop University.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship favorite memories

Spent three days at the Quail Hollow Club Golf Course in Charlotte this week--helping again, as an ambassador/volunteer, with the Wells Fargo Championship.

Most of the top players in the world were there, with the exception of Bubba Watson, winner of the 2012 Master's. (Bubba has a new baby and wanted more family time.)

Tiger Woods, the most famous name in golf on the planet, unfortunately did not make the cut, so he went home after Friday.

But I did get very close to him on Thursday afternoon. My work station was between the ninth and tenth fairways. I along, with thousands of others, had waited for quite some time for Tiger to play the ninth hole.

After all, what's more exciting than to get near someone who one day will eclipse the great Jack Nicklaus' record (18) of golf major championships?

As it happened, Tiger hit a long shot off the tee on number nine but it veered right of the fairway into some pine trees. His ball came to rest on a bed of pine needles near a tree.

Not lost, but in a bad place.

We waited for about 10 minutes for Tiger and his caddie (and PGA officials) to arrive at the ball for shot #2.

At best it would be a really difficult shot--even for the former number one ranked player in the world.

Reason being: the ball was not on grass but on pine needles ("a bad lie," as they say in golfdom.) Tiger would have a clear, clean swing at it (a good thing) but in front of him was a tall tree and on both sides of that tree were more trees--all of them barriers to the fairway and green.

I wondered what he would do. Try to hit a low, half throttle (sort of field goal) shot and go through those trees and get safely into the fairway?

Or would he actually go for the green from such a precarious spot? To do that, he'd have to come down exceedingly hard on the ball and try to lift it quickly OVER the trees, OVER the fairway and onto the green.

You know what?

He did the riskier latter, and it didn't work. The ball didn't clear the tree; it hit a branch and plummeted back to the ground--again on a bed of pine needles.

"Get back!" I yelled to all those sun-baked spectators seated on the edge of the fairway--just beyond the trees and between Tiger and the green (about 200 yards away from the errant ball). "He's still in the trees! He's going to hit again! The ball could hit you! Get out of the way!"

For his part, Tiger did not cuss. He did not spew venom. He threw no F-bombs. He said nothing that I could hear (and I was within a few feet of him.)

Instead, he pulled out an iron (maybe a seven or eight) and swung again.

Solid contact. The ball took off, high, like a missile. It cleared all obstacles and plopped gently onto the green where it came to rest.

One of the best golf shots I've ever seen. The man may no longer be ranked number one in the world, and, yes, he missed the cut at Quail Hollow, but he's still a force.

Tiger Woods, ranked seventh in the world before the Wells Fargo Championship, will win again, will regain his top ranking, and

WILL break Jack Nicklaus' record.

Meanwhile, the winner yesterday at the Wells Fargo Championship at beautiful Quail Hollow was 23-year-old Rickie Fowler from California. Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorenson described Fowler, dressed in orange from head to toe, as looking a bit like a cream sickle. The young cream sickle, who resembles Johnny Depp, won $1.2 million, as a result of what he did on the first hole of a playoff late yesterday afternoon. You have to be good (and lucky) to beat Rory McIllroy (the current number one ranked golfer in the world) and D.A. Points in a playoff, but that's what Fowler (who won for the first time in his fledgling PGA career) pulled off. Talk about drama! Turn up your sound and enjoy his winning approach shot:

"Let's go do the hop!"

This blog post is for the late (and eternally young) Dick Clark.

None of us boomers will ever forget "American Bandstand."

Thanks, Dick, for all the memories.

Some of the earliest ones were in black and white. Turn up your sound and enjoy the "American Bandstand" dancing:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dog story touches our hearts

I've always preached the mantra of dog journalism.

Meaning people can't resist a good dog story.

Deep down inside, all of us truly love to read about three things: dogs, sex and money. (Not sure which order to put those in.)

Comes now an article, which ran a few days ago in The (Rock Hill, S.C.) Herald about a pooch named Matlock. (His picture accompanies this blog post.)

Seems the poor little pit bull-boxer was maliciously shot, and, but for the love and care of a good Samaritan veterinarian and other angels, would now not be with us.

Who would shoot a poor, defenseless, friendly animal?

I always say dogs are far better than people. This hateful, dispicable crime proves it.

Here's the story, written by Jonathan McFadden (one of my star students), that appeared a couple days ago in The Herald:

Donations from vet's office save 'miracle’ dog shot in York
Workers at veterinary clinic pool money to pay for surgery

By Jonathan McFadden -
YORK -- Not a single whimper or yelp came from Glenn Knight’s 10-month-old pit bull-boxer mix after it had been shot in the jaw and back and left to die.
It was Knight who couldn’t stop shedding tears, he said.

On Wednesday, Matlock, one of three dogs Knight treats like “my kids,” escaped from the fence in Knight’s yard in York.
“I went looking for him everywhere,” he said.

When he pulled back into his driveway a little later, Knight found that Matlock made it back to the yard.

But as Matlock lay on its side, its back showed a gaping hole of exposed flesh where there should have been short brown fur. Its jaw had been hit by a bullet, and a piece of its tongue was missing.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Knight said.“It amazes me that someone could shoot a dog like that and leave it.

But to staff members at White Rose Veterinary Clinic in York, it was more amazing that Matlock was still alive when Knight desperately rushed the dog into the office as they were about to close. “What I first saw was a poor little dog,” said Sylvia Chappell, doctor of veterinary medicine and owner of White Rose Veterinary Clinic. “I’ve never seen a gunshot (in an animal) like that.”

Chappell also saw a lot of muscle damage. She was preparing to tell Knight that they would have to euthanize his dog when Matlock began to move.

It was enough to convince Chappell that Matlock could be saved.

The next hurdle was the $465 cost for Matlock’s surgery.“I didn’t have the money to keep the dog alive,” Knight said. “I’ve been out of work. ... I just went back to work. I was going to have to put him down.”

Clinic staff members and Operation CARE (Carolina Animal Rescue Effort) stepped in, pooled their resources and agreed to cover Knight’s bill.“They took money out of their own pockets to help me,” Knight said. “That was so fantastic; the way the economy is now, people don’t do that. People don’t take out the time to help you out any more.”

It’s not something the clinic will make common practice, staff members say, but Matlock was worth it.
Veterinarians dressed Matlock’s wounds Wednesday. On Thursday, they prepped Matlock for a two-hour surgery that would leave stitches on the jaw and back and a protective funnel to wear temporarily to let the wounds heal.

By Friday, Matlock “the miracle” was enjoying hugs and posing for pictures. But he’s not out of the woods yet.
Because the bullet blew out a part of his tongue and some of his teeth, Matlock is having trouble eating, which may cause difficulties during recovery, said Kathy Jackson, clinic practice manager. They’re also watching for infections.

Neither Chappell nor Jackson understands why someone would shoot Matlock.

During exams, “he was so gentle and wonderful,” Chappell said. “I could do his exams without sedating him.”

“If a dog is not aggressive or hurting someone, it’s disgusting to shoot a dog like that and leave it in the pain it’s in,” Jackson said.

Matlock is one of three boxer pit -bull mix pups born to a mother that was hit by a car. Knight took in the small litter. “He’s been a real good dog; he’s not aggressive,” Knight said. “I just can’t believe somebody would do that.”

Want to donate? To donate to Matlock’s surgical bill, or any of the many animal rescues at the clinic, call (803) 818-5121 or find the clinic on Facebook.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Farewell slideshow created by student

Dana Farrior, a student in my Multimedia Storytelling and Production course, created this slideshow retrospective of yours truly.

Dana is in the photo accompanying this blog post. This was my very last class at Winthrop University. We took a group photo on the front steps of Johnson Hall, home of the mass communication department. (Photo courtesy of Sara Workman).

Thanks, Dana!

Turn up your sound and click below to enjoy:

Sunday, April 22, 2012


With 23 days till my career as a college professor ends, it's time for reflection.

So this blog post'll be about some of the men and women who helped get me through my 27 years at Winthrop.

First my faculty colleagues, past and present in the Department of Communications (for the past 20+ years the Department of Mass Communication.)

Bob Bristow

Louis Rosso (Corvette-driving chair of the department when I got hired in 1985)

John Sargent (deceased)

Anne Beard

William Fisher

Cathey Ross (yes, that's correct spelling of her first name)

Elizabeth Williams

Vivian Robinson

Leo Kivijarv

Glenn Surrette

William Click (current silver-haired chair of the Department of Mass Comm.)

Haney Howell

Stewart Haas (deceased)

Arny Pickholtz

Ironda Campbell

Marilyn Sarow

Robert Pyle

Beverly Horvit

Karyn Campbell

Guy Reel

Bonnye Stuart

Mark Nortz

Padmini Patwardhan

I've been blessed to work with three departmental administrative assistants who could have made their mark anywhere:

Zeta Sistare (saved my life)

Donna Coker

Jamie Low (saving my life)

Favorite technical support gurus:

Keoni Everington (marshal arts expert who taught me WebCT from the ground up and then, sadly, left Winthrop for UNLV)

Kimarie Whetstone (knows everything about Blackboard--successor to WebCT--and always returns my calls and emails)

Joey Martin (savvy crackerjack about all things Mac)

My favorite deans of the College of Arts and Sciences:

Betsy Brown (my former wife and the smartest person I've ever known)

Debra Boyd (now vice president for academic affairs)

Winthrop's presidents during my 27 years:

Phil Lader (never really knew him; ran (unsuccessfuly) for governor of S.C. my first year here.

Martha Kime Piper (a feisty leader who was with us at Winthrop for only a couple years before succumbing to leukema.)

Mike Smith (acting president who gave the coolest welcome back party ever--a beach party outside the President's House on campus)

Tony DiGiorgio (current, longstanding president who has put Winthrop on the map with all its new buildings--one named after him--and nationally accredited programs)

Other Winthrop faculty, administration or staff who I will never forget (in a good way):

Cristina Grabiel (learned a lot from her; universally respected woman)

Patricia Cormier (generous, good-hearted and smart); became president of Longwood University in Virginia after she left Winthrop; husband played a mean golf game.

Gregg Marshall (the always impeccably well dressed head coach of the the Winthrop men's basketball team); let them to the NCAA "Big Dance" seven times; established a coaching legacy in basketball at Winthrop that will never be equaled.

Melford Wilson (has visited the People's Republic of China dozens of times); is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge of all things Winthrop and Rock Hill.

Tom Moore (always knew he would ascend; now president of Upstate University in Spartanburg, S.C.)

Jonathan Marx (has a California cool about him; impresses with his sense of humor.)

Annie-Laurie Wheat (loved and respected by every student who ever had her as a professor; bakes scrumptious cookies)

Judy Longshaw (the hardest working woman at Winthrop)

Bethany Marlowe (the university's toughest job is in capable hands)

Scott Conant (taught me about leadership, coaching, teaching and encouraging others through time spent with him on the Ropes Course)

Lynn Harand (good to the core; a university key player and faculty/student valued resource for many years)

Sarah Stallings (knowledgeable,knowledgeable and knowledgeable, and bakes the most delicious cakes in the world!)

Mickey Taylor, Bert Bobb and Linda Ashley (good-hearted and selfless; represent the best of our university community)

Debbie Garrick (my former student, now part of Winthrop's powerstructure; once upon a time brought me food from the grocery story when I was too depressed to shop.)

Frank Ardaiolo (no one can spell his name, but he's a good guy; savior for the severely injured player (in the early 90s) on the Winthrop tennis team.

As faculty adviser to The Johnsonian, I served with the following editors (won't forget them!):

Carly Forsht

Lauren Huntsberger

Mary Dolan

Rebekah Woodson

Jeremy Harriot

Keri Todd Boyce

Christy Mullins

Arthur Takahashi

Anna Douglas

Lastly, I learned tons from the 5,000 or so students I had the honor of having in my courses from 1985-2012. Wouldn't begin to name them here, but I'm proud and honored to have been their mentor and instructor. So many memories, good times and lifetime friendships...

I interviewed at Winthrop College in 1985. I mused at the time: "Wouldn't it be neat to work here? So beautiful. So like a college campus should be." And amid the crepe myrtles, azaleas and magnolia trees, there stood stately, antebellum looking Johnson Hall. The home of the then-Communications Department struck me as something right out of "Gone With the Wind."

"Well," I thought, "if I can just get this job and stay awhile, I won't ever ask for anything else..."

Never dreamed I'd spend my entire career here. But life has a way of surprising us.

Three wives, four dogs, clinical depression (which I defeated), a double-bypass and a treasure trove of memories later, here I am.

It's all worked out pretty well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Greener pastures...

Well, the old gray mare may not be quite done with journalism when he retires on May 15, 2012.

Comes word that I might be coaching a few reporters or editors this summer--via a "senior mentors" program created by the S.C. Press Association.

Read about it in the screen shot accompanying this blog post.

Police misbehaving?

I always say that cameras and camcorders are everywhere in 2012.

Accounts for a spectator (or two or three or more) capturing this "take-down" of a man at Folly Beach (near Charleston), S.C. (After you've read this post, turn your sound up and click on the clip at the end.)

Were the police acting correctly here? Listen carefully and you'll hear some of the witnesses to this incident imploring the officers to lay off. "What'd he do, sir? That's not right. He's didn't do anything...," (or words to that effect) can be heard on the video.

By the way, police pepper-sprayed the man.

I've never been pepper-sprayed, but I'm told it's not pleasant.

Here's the first few graphs of a story, reprinted from the Post and Courier in Charleston, that appeared in today's Herald in Rock Hill:

YouTube video of Folly Beach arrest draws mixed reaction
Bystander video of Folly Beach police grappling with a man on a tourist-filled strand Sunday is racking up thousands of hits on YouTube and sparking debate about the lengths officers went to make an arrest.

The two-minute video, titled “Police doing wrong!?, Charleston, SC,” shows an officer straddling and pepper-spraying a struggling suspect as he tries to place the man in handcuffs. A large crowd surrounds them, shouting questions and taunts.

The man yells that he has done nothing wrong. “I am not fighting,” he shouts, as he continues to squirm. “I am not resisting.”

An image taken from a video of a Folly Beach police officer arresting an unruly man on the strand Sunday is racking up thousands of hits on YouTube and sparking debate about the lengths officers went to to apprehend the man.
The video appears to have been shot with a camera phone. Another video is said to exist, but the man filming that footage was shot with a Taser stun gun and arrested after he reportedly became combative with a Charleston County sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.

The video that surfaced on YouTube had received more than 4,600 viewings since it was uploaded Monday. The video drew a mix of responses, with some viewers alleging police brutality and others commending the officers. Several people said police exercised remarkable restraint given the unruliness and close proximity of the crowd.

“The crowd you hear yelling is a bunch of drunken fools with no respect for the law,” wrote one viewer who claimed to have been on the beach that day.”I just hope Folly Beach hires ten more officers like these two!”

Folly Beach Public Safety Director Dennis Brown said as a matter of procedure his department is conducting an internal investigation into the use of force during the episode. The officers involved in the incident remain on duty, including Cpl. Ryland Reed, the officer seen struggling with the suspect in the video.

Brown said the episode lasted some 20 minutes, and he has called on the person who shot the YouTube video to release the entire footage out of fairness to everyone involved.

Okay, here's the video:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another dog story

The white one is my loveable Bichon Frise. His name is Michael Jackson.

The sheltie (looks like a little collie) is the one who keeps me company day and night; we are inseparable. His name is Little Joe, but I just call him Joe. (Photo of Joe and me by Hannah Flemitis)

While I'm on the subject of dogs, I watched an interesting YouTube clip about a dog that tried its best to keep traffic from running over another canine.

Click on the clip, from South America, and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

All dressed up and nowhere (almost) to go...

Feels sort of strange to be decked out in a brand new suit.

For one thing, people notice you and make interesting comments to you.

Things like: Larry, who do you think you are? Why are you wearing that? What's got into you? Are you preaching today?

Your dog even gives you the curious eye.

As I always say, if you look like a slob, people won't notice you and will keep to themselves.

If you want attention, buy yourself a new suit, like the one I have on in the photo accompanying this blog post.

Got it for a steal (sort of) at Jos. A. Bank.

Favorite quotes for today

1. "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."--anonymous

2. "Stay young. Stay foolish."--the late Steve Jobs

3. "Have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?"--the late George Carlin

Congrats to our student journalists at Winthrop Univ.

I always say that we have two of the strongest student newspapers (The Johnsonian and the Roddey-McMillan Record) in South Carolina.

Proof in the pudding is how our student journalists did in the 2011 S.C. Press Association Collegiate News Contest. (Names of the winners from Winthrop were released to the public a few weeks ago.)

Congrats. to the following students! (Listed here are the winners and the contest categories they competed in.)

Feature Story

Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Catherine Zende

Winthrop University

The Biology of Dating and Mate Selection

Front Page Layout and Design

Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Claire Byun

Winthrop University

Collegiate Journalist of the Year


Honorable Mention

The Johnsonian

Jonathan McFadden

Winthrop University

Feature Story

Over 5,000

Honorable Mention

The Johnsonian

Jonathan McFadden

Winthrop University

Winthrop employee retires after 46 years, friends, family celebrate

Website for a Student Newspaper

Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Winthrop University

Illustration or Informational Graphic

Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Courtney Niskala

Winthrop University

Entertainment Guide

Winthrop Survival Guide


Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Sarah Auvil

Winthrop University

Rosetta Cureton

General Excellence

Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Winthrop University

Arts and Entertainment Story

Over 5,000


The Johnsonian

Monica Kreber

Winthrop University

“Chicago”: And All That Jazz

Arts and Entertainment Story

Under 5,000


Rodney McMillan Record

Crystal Booker

Winthrop University

Student’s Persistence Leads to Opportunity...


Under 5,000


Rodney McMillan Record

Jasmine Rutledge

Winthrop University

The Reality Check

Monday, April 9, 2012

Article in my hometown daily newspaper

My hometown newspaper, The Elizabethton Star, published my piece about "the blue house" that had been in our family for almost a century.

Click here for the link to the newspaper article.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Memories of the old home place

By Larry Timbs Jr.
The “blue house,” as it’s come to be known in the Valley Forge community of Carter County, is now 85 years old.

Built by the late Ed Jenkins who carried the rocks for its foundation and hewed its wood from nearby forests, the aging (but still very livable structure at 1503 Riverview Drive) has been in the Jenkins and Timbs family for all that time.

And the house has served its purposes well.

Babies came into the world here, children played here and grew into adults, and their mother, the late Maude Simerly Jenkins, eventually died here in 1978.

But not before she had lived a full and happy life with her husband Ed, who passed away in 1962, and with their four rambunctious little ones—J.N., Dixie Nadine, Baby Ruth and Nell.

“If only that old house could talk, what stories it could tell!” Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs, now 86, reminisced recently.

The house that she remembers always being warm in the winter, with a stove in the living room, and cool in the summer with its high ceilings, was where her brother J.N. and sister Baby Ruth were born.

And it was where the Bible believing, small in stature and but kind and big-hearted Ed Jenkins, a charter member of the nearby Valley Forge Christian Church, always made sure that God stayed front and center in his family’s life.

“Dad often read from the Bible and instilled in all of us a love for our Lord,” said Mrs. Timbs, whose husband of 66 years, Lawrence C. Timbs, died at the age of 90 earlier this year.

“We had a wash tub and this was filled with water pumped out of the well and heated on the wood burning stove in the kitchen,” she recalled. “And we all had a Saturday night bath and put on clean underwear to wear to church on Sunday.”

A lot of times in those growing up years, the family would come home from church to a delicious meal. And frequently the church’s preacher would join them in partaking of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, pickles, corn, green beans and homemade bread. For dessert, they’d have cake and canned peaches.

“Often our minister would come home with us after church,” Mrs. Timbs notes. “Of course, all the children had to wait till the adults had eaten before we could eat. The good pieces of chicken were all gone by the time we got to eat. . . However, we never went away from our table hungry.”

Even in tough times, Ed and Maude Jenkins’ family had plenty to eat. That’s because on their nine acres of land (stretching from Doe River to Siam Road) they raised chickens and hogs, had a milk cow, grew lots of vegetables and picked apples, strawberries, cherries and blackberries.

A grape vine a few feet from the foundation of the house (and still thriving today) ensured that Maude Jenkins would always be able to can a good supply of jelly.

And boy, did that grape jelly ever taste good on Maude’s hot biscuits!

She cooked a big breakfast every morning, and if the “blue house” could talk today, it would boast that some of the most delightfully delicious gravy and biscuits ever came from its kitchen. Ham or sausage and hot coffee or fresh milk rounded out the meal.

And if J.N., Dixie Nadine, Baby Ruth and Nell even thought about getting out of hand, their gentle but stern father reined them in. He and his wife stressed good manners.

At the table, for example, the four children would pass their plates, and their mother or father would dish the food out to them.

“We never helped ourselves,” Dixie Nadine remembers. “And we couldn’t laugh or talk at the table unless spoken to.”
She also recalls that she and her sisters and brother had a certain place each sat at, and they didn’t eat between meals.
Always looking ahead, the Jenkins family would wash and put away the dishes immediately after eating and set the table, with a big white cloth, for the next meal.

Thirsty? A pump (near the grape vine and still there today) would yield some of the coolest, most refreshing water in Valley Forge.

A few childhood memories
The “blue house,” which in earlier years had a big green grassy pasture between it and state highway 19E, must have been a good place for Ed and Maude to raise their children, as all four of them have done pretty well and have left (or are still leaving) their marks.

J.N., for example, died in 1999, but his legacy is that he never met a stranger, could always make you laugh and loved dearly his two daughters—Teresa and Sharon Ruth (both of whom today live near Raleigh, N.C.).

The outgoing, humorous J.N. had a close call, his sister Nell McQueen (now 89) recalls, as a baby. “Mother had to go to the barn to milk and she told me to hold him till she got back,” Nell remembers, “and I dropped him. He hit his nose on the floor and bloodied it. I just picked him up and put him in his cradle, and that little cradle had blood everywhere. . . When momma got back she saw all that blood and it scared her to death. She jerked him up but he wasn’t hurt.”

Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs, like her sisters Ruth and Nell, graduated from Hampton High School where she played a good game of basketball. She relocated with her husband Lawrence at least 35 times over the course of his 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force, and the couple would have three children: Lawrence C. Timbs “Timmy” Jr.; Cheryl Ann Timbs and Edward Taylor Timbs. Dixie, in her later years would also write and self-publish two books—“A Trip Up Jenkins Mountain and the Old Barn” and “People of Valley Forge.”

Nell Jenkins McQueen would spend a good part of her life with her late husband, J.C. “Jack” McQueen who died in 2005. Nell, who also graduated from Hampton High School and from Sneed Business College, went on to have a successful career as a professional secretary. She is a long-time faithful member of Valley Forge Christian Church (where J.C. was a deacon) and where today she is a respected, devoted Sunday School teacher.

Nell remembers vaguely, at age 3, the predecessor of the blue house; it was an old dwelling with two stories, she said. When the structure was in the process of being torn down, in about 1926, Nell scampered up the stairs.
“They were getting ready to push the chimney down, and Daddy said to Uncle Charlie: ‘Hold it!’ He got me and sat me back downstairs and told me to stay out of the way.”

About the blue house, Nell has this very clear recollection: “I remember on a sun shiny morning just laying around out there on the porch, and warm sun hitting me in the face.”

Ruth Jenkins Williams, called “Baby Ruth” by her family members, is now 82 and lives in Newnan, Ga. She was married for many years to the late Jim Williams, who died in 1996 at age 71. The couple bore a daughter, Marcella. Ruth would have a successful career managing a drug store for many years in Newport News, Va.; today she still has a paying job in Newnan. But she each year makes a few trips back to Valley Forge, where she relaxes on the porch with her sisters Dixie Nadine and Nell and gazes upward at the always majestic Jenkins Mountain.

The “blue house,” where Ruth was born, also still calls out to her. How could it not, given all those memories she has there of her parents and siblings?

Dixie Nadine remembers when Ruth was born “and she was just a squabblin' on Laura Suess’ lap. Laura would come over and give Ruth a bath in the morning. . .”

Change of ownership
In mid-March 2012, the Valley Forge Freewill Baptist Church purchased the “blue house” from Larry C. Timbs Jr. This marked the first time in 85 years that the house, which has been lived in by about 10 different families (a few of them Moody Aviation students), has not been owned by a Jenkins or Timbs.

For her part, Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs says she feels blessed that the house built so many decades ago by her father, a carpenter, is now owned by a church.

Somehow, Ed Jenkins is at peace.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Old blogster survives "shocking" experience

I had cardioversion early this morning at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill.

My heart had been out of rhythm, only pumping at about 40%-50% capacity for the past 18 months or so.

Solution: reboot the heart with an electrical shock.

To say I was scared about all this would be, well, quite the understatement of the year.

Think someone with paddles with lots of electrical current coursing through them suddenly pressing those paddles on your chest--right smack-dab where your heart is beating.

My heart was sick.

The song in this YouTube describes how I feel now:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Miss Teen South Carolina--brilliant beyond words!

While I'm on the subject of stereotypes and sensitivity in the press, do you remember Miss Teen South Carolina when she was asked a question? Remember her response?

Is it any wonder that we southerners are stereotyped as dumb, dumb, dumb?!

Here's a clip from that beauty pageant interview a few years ago:

Voices from Mississippi

Been a while since I've blogged but I have to say something about this video--which recently appeared on the Bill Maher show. It shows, among other things, Mississippians talking about President Barack Obama.

You know what the scarey part of this is? If Maher's videographer had taken her camera to parts of South Carolina or North Carolina, she'd probably have come up with the same kind of venom.

I happened to see this video the other night while, coincidentally, trying to come up with a discussion idea for my class in Media Writing. As it so happens, the class at this juncture in the semester is focused on "multicultural sensitivity"--the idea that the press ought not to unfairly stereotype, insult, or belittle, those that it covers.

Is Bill Maher's roaming videographer crossing the line of good taste and sensitivity? You be the judge. Here's the video:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Missing her

Anna Douglas communicates with us at Winthrop from time to time--from the other side of the planet (Australia.)

We miss you, Anna. Come back to the United States of America!

Monday, March 5, 2012

War couldn't kill him, but asthma did

Anthony Shadid, who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for his international reporting, died recently from an asthma attack while walking behind some horses in Syria.

He reportedly was allergic to horses and had been a heavy smoker--a deadly combination for someone with breathing problems.

And though Mr. Shadid is no longer with us, his work as a journalist will never be forgotten. As I often say to my students, long after we and all our family members are gone, long after we've all turned to dust, the only thing that will bear witness to us is what we've written.

Our words, especially those that we write, tell a lot about who we are or were and what we believed in and accomplished, if anything.

Anthony Shadid (whose photo accompanies this blog post) made his mark with his journalism.

My mentor and good friend in Iowa City, Iowa, Ken Starck, wrote a piece about Shadid published a few days ago in a daily newspaper, the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette. Here is Ken's take on a journalist who for many years shined a light on the truth in a treacherous part of the world:

Anthony Shadid was as fine a human being as you'd ever want to meet.

He also was a great journalist.

Shadid died last week while documenting events in a troubled region of the world. His death reminds us of the debt we owe to those who risk their lives to bear witness to what happens in remote, sometimes alien, parts of the world.

I met Anthony twice. The first was in April 2006, a few months after he had left Iraq. He spoke to a group of our students and faculty at Zayed University in Dubai. His book Night Draws Near (2005) had just been published. The second time was in October 2007, again on the Zayed campus, when he spoke at a conference of Arab and US journalism educators.

I was not alone in taking an immediate liking to Anthony. He was personable. You could chat comfortably with him, oblivious to his growing reputation as arguably the best journalist reporting on the Middle East. He would twice win journalism's highest accolade, the Pulitzer Prize.

One of his tips to aspiring journalists was: “Listen. Really listen.” And he did. He was interested in what you had to say. If there were a Pulitzer for listening, he probably would have won that too.

But it was the quality of his writing that stood out. Here's the opening sentence of Night Draws Near: “Baghdad is a city of lives interrupted, its history a story of loss, waiting, and resilience.”

What often goes unnoticed in a journalist's repertoire is reporting—the simple yet not-so-simple task of gathering information. Consequential facts don't parade in plain sight. Good journalists uncover facts. They may draw wrong conclusions or make inappropriate inferences. But they do not make up stuff.

Integrity manifests itself in many forms. When Anthony, who was fluent in Arabic, came to Dubai, the US Embassy wanted to arrange a public event for him. He would have none of it. He said he wanted to avoid any such collaboration.

That was wise because while in the Emirates he reported on the exploitation of immigrant workers, a hyper-sensitive issue.

His story began: “A sweltering fog still shrouded the East Coast & Hamriah Co. labor camp when, dressed in the equivalent of their Sunday best, the migrant workers set out after dawn Tuesday. They didn't shower beforehand. Water was cut last year to their shantytown, now abandoned by their employer. They didn't eat breakfast. They have no electricity to cook” (“Migrant Workers Creating Splendor Are Abandoned With No Pay,” Washington Post Foreign Service, April 12, 2006).

Unlike the Emirates press, Shadid named names. And unlike some journalists, he saw for himself labor camp conditions and talked and listened to the laborers—not easy things to do in a tightly controlled society.

About the same time I was asked to contribute an essay to a book about the Danish cartoon controversy. The 12 cartoons depicted the Prophet Muhammad, an act prohibited by Muslims objecting to physical representation of the Prophet. Some 200 persons died in widespread protests. Two of my university colleagues who brought up the cartoons in class were fired in this struggle between free expression and religious respect.

I declined the invitation to contribute to the book—I'm a little embarrassed to admit this now—on grounds that I was employed by the government-funded Zayed University, and, hence, a guest of the country.

Anthony, meanwhile, ever faithful to the cause of bearing full and honest witness, had subjected himself often to danger.
In 2002 while on assignment on the West Bank, he was shot. Last year he was among three other New York Times journalists—he had joined the times in late 2009—captured and beaten and held for six days by Qaddafi forces in Libya. Their driver later was found dead.

It is sad irony that Anthony was to succumb to an asthma attack last Thursday (Feb. 16) while on a stealth reporting mission in Syria.

Journalists who risk their lives to keep us accurately and honestly informed deserve our gratitude and respect.

Anthony Shadid was 43.

(Editor's Note: Starck is a former Gazette ombudsman and director of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. More recently he served as dean of the College of Communication and Media Sciences at Zayed University, United Arab Emirates. Now retired, he lives in Iowa City.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hog love must be an unseemly sight

Knowing my interest in animals--wild and domestic--Marilyn Sarow, a colleague of mine, put an article in my hands today. Written by Dean Mullis, it appeared in the Feb. 22, 2012, edition of the Charlotte Observer.

Gives "hog love" a new meaning.

Here's Mullis' piece:

Jenifer called me Tuesday morning while I was at work. I was on my knees setting out 1,300 onion plants.

She said, "Stacy busted out a hole in the back of her hut. She must have been working on it in secret for days."

The hole was big enough for a 500-pound sow to go through, but too high for her 12 8-week-old pigs to follow.

I guess she was tired of those 12 squealing pigs literally sucking the life out of her every time she turned around and decided they needed weaning.

Stacy rooted around a bit in some fresh dirt and grass then headed down the hill to the pen with Penny and George the boar in it. George was ecstatic, as Penny had been fighting off his advances for months.

Hogs are normally very respectful and wary of electric fences, but Stacy went through a hot, two-strand fence to get to George. I guess she was eager.

I won't describe what hog love is like except to say it is loud and it ain't pretty.