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Jeff Whitten: Notes, notes and more notes
editor's notes

First, a housekeeping note. This space was going to be occupied with a salute to two longtime pillars of the community, Bobby Carpenter and J.C. Tucker – both of whom passed recently and left this place both richer for their having been who they were and poorer for their loss, if that makes sense.

Anyhow, that is getting bumped back to give me more time to work on it. I want their stories told right, if I can manage it.

In the meantime it’s worth noting we’re losing a lot of the old guard hereabouts, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed. In fact, it’d be better if it were noticed before they were lost, but we tend to be a society in which we don’t know what we have until we lose it, or pave it over and turn it into Pooler.

I hate that, but I’m nothing if not slow these days, and easily derailed.

In that regard I’m sort of kind of like a used car, or maybe an old beat up Toyota pickup with leaky gaskets, a cracked windshield, a squeaky, sagging suspension and balding tires, and I think somebody left a bag of Fritos under my driver’s seat and I swear to goodness while my head is going bald my earlobes are not only sprouting hair or a fungus or follicles or mushrooms or something, but they themselves are growing too, and not in a good way.

And here’s something else scary – I saw a photo of myself taken over the weekend in which I was grinning, and to my practiced eye it made me look insane, and not necessarily in a good way.

Besides, with Tropical Storm Elsa sort of spinning its way up through Florida as I write this Wednesday, it’s hard to keep focused. Nothing like coming back after a couple days off for the Independence Day weekend to find you’ve got a big paper to fill and not exactly what you thought you might have to fill it, and all the while it’s quite possible you’ll get flooded or blown sideways before you get all your pages done and to the press.

Yet one improvises in this weekly newspaper business, and though it’s changed a bunch in some ways from when I started and not so much in other ways, as always one never knows what a deadline day will bring.

Once, at another paper and a day or two in advance of St. Patrick’s Day, someone showed up with beer and we had a taste testing at 10 a.m. in the morning. I had no idea why they chose that particular paper, but it was great fun testing the taste.

Or at least it was until a middle-aged travel ball softball coach on disability came out of the woodwork at 11 a.m. because he didn’t have anything better to do to try and get in a submitted 10,000 word writeup on his team in that week’s edition and apparently thought I was lit, which I wasn’t, although I did feel pretty good and wasn’t in any mood for milk-drinking, holier-than-thou travel ball softball coaches.

But then this was in the 1990s, when weekly newspapers still made people mad because they didn’t have Facebook to get worked up over.

Social media’s gain is our loss, of course, both in terms of advertising revenue and immediacy and the fun that came when manly women with chins fussed at you for not covering their children properly. I was famous for that.

Once, a woman in a mumu who was not large but was a dead ringer for shorter, squatter version of Danny DeVito barged into the newsroom with a copy of a particular paper and a ruler and showed me how a photo of the high school her daughter played for was smaller than a photo of the other high school.

After showing me one was about four inches wide and the other about five inches wide, she said she was appalled and disgusted, and added that she was thinking about subscribing just so she could cancel it and blame me. And then she barreled her way back out into the real world, probably bound for a Burger King.

That was a couple decades ago, when you worked 15-hour days six days a week for $300 a week before taxes and it seemed at times everybody hated you, but it was good practice for when you grew up and got a real job, if you ever did.

Be safe out there, and take time to thank a law enforcement officer or firefighter or paramedic for keeping watch, and don’t let the humbugs get you down. Life’s too short.

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