I just learned Tony Joe White passed away last week. Tony Joe wasn’t the most popular singer ever, but he did have that one huge hit in the late sixties; the kind of song you’d never hear on the Top 10 these days. He sings of a girl who lived back in the Louisiana swamps who “made the alligators look tame,” and would pick a mess of pokeweed and boil it up for supper. She was known as Poke Sallet Annie. You also may have heard Elvis’s version of the song.
Anyway, I met Tony Joe when he came to perform on a live radio show I hosted several years ago during my Nashville period. There was a full house at the club we were broadcasting from, and at the end of his hour set he was given a standing ovation.
After the show, Leann, his wife of some 50-odd years, told me Tony Joe was so grateful for the outpouring of appreciation she caught him shedding tears. She said he was sure people had forgotten all about him over the years. Nope.
Meanwhile back at the office, our editor Scott Turner will start his new position at the Albuquerque Journal next week. I gotta’ say I’ve enjoyed working with him these past three-and-a-half years and am sorry to see him go. Scott and I became friends early on and we’ve had him and his daughter over to the house for Thanksgiving and such, so yeah, he’ll be missed.
But all is not lost, right on his heels comes Wanda Moeller. She’s picking up the reins of the newspaper as of this week; settling in and meeting everyone she can. I don’t know if she’s kin to Rebecca and the late Dr. Fritz Moeller of San Acacia where the Texas Longhorns graze, but she tells me she is a “farm girl” at heart so I believe we’ll be in good hands.
Newspapering, if I may digress, is a line of work that is not unlike others in that it has its upside and its downside. Now wait, don’t get ahead of me here.
First, it’s a privilege to be able to go out and talk with people, finding out what’s going on in the community – good or bad – and then trying to tell the story as honestly as possible.
It can be rewarding and you always strive to do the right thing; an undertaking you don’t take lightly.
There are times, however, when you realize you might have left something important out of an story or worse yet, you’ve spelled someone’s name wrong. It’s those things that keep you awake at night, wondering, “What made me want to be a reporter?”
But I’ll tell you what, each morning when I get up I can’t think of a single thing I’d rather be doing, and the same can be said for the outgoing Scott and incoming Wanda.
Speaking of “incoming,” in a roundabout sort of way, the above can be said for putting in military service. The upsides and downsides, I mean. It can be the best job because of the pride you feel for serving your country. Hey, you’re working for the American flag, basically. And you learn new skills and are always making new friends.
On the other hand, there can be definite risks, and on that you can ask anyone who’s been in harm’s way, whether facing the enemy or dashing for the bunker when someone yells, “incoming.”
I’m talking about members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force, both retired and active duty.
I must confess here there’s a part of me that still believes I can get into that old Air Force uniform I took off when I was 24. This is especially true on Veterans Day. It’s coming up Sunday and once again there’ll be a nice ceremony at Isidro Baca Park.
The program starts at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, corresponding to the date and time World War I ended in 1918, 100 years ago this Sunday. Originally created to honor WW I veterans returning home, nowadays it serves to recognize all U.S. military veterans.
Those who served during wartime and returned home understand this more than anyone. While it’s true that vets who served in combat are understandably reserved when it comes to talking about their experiences, they usually don’t mind if you ask when and where they served.
One last thing, with the cold and flu season upon us, I dutifully went up to the VA hospital week before last and got my flu shot.
There are a lot of good people up there, and every time I go I can’t help but think that every day is Veteran’s Day at the VA.