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Birney Imes: Sweetness and light on a Friday afternoon

Posted 3/29/2014 in Local Columns

Friday afternoon at 6:30 I was standing in front of Shattuck Hall on The W campus watching honeybees fly in and out of a Corinthian column.

 

Birney Imes: Spring arrives

Posted 3/22/2014 in Local Columns

Kenny Lang, who pedals his bicycle around Southside relentlessly and who could do voice-overs for Disney's "Song of the South," was watering his garden on Thursday, the first day of spring. Kenny is cultivating a sliver of earth near the intersection of South Fifth Street and 16th Avenue. He was using two plastic soft drink bottles to sprinkle his Georgia collards, kale and onions.

 

Birney Imes: On the road with Louie and Sprocket

Posted 3/8/2014 in Local Columns

On March 1 Louie Little left Germantown, Tenn., on a bicycle pulling a trailer filled with musical equipment and a Jack Russell terrier named Sprocket.

 

Birney Imes: To wake a sleeping bear

Posted 3/1/2014 in Local Columns

Not everyday do you run up on someone who has crawled into a bear's den, roused its hibernating inhabitant, jabbed him with a sharp stick ... and lived to tell about it. Craig Jamison is one such person, and if you were among the 800 or so folks at the wild game dinner at Fairview Baptist Thursday night, you heard his story.

 

Birney Imes: Random notes

Posted 2/15/2014 in Local Columns

As Jeff Shepherd was pulling out of the parking lot of Columbus Inn and Suites Friday, he stopped his red Ford F-150, rolled down the window and shook his head. "You better be careful what you ask for," he said. "I told Lou Anne I wanted a red-hot Valentine, and I got this."

 

Remembering Joe Ray

Posted 2/10/2014 in Local Columns

Joe Ray Roberson, longtime Dispatch photographer, was one of those people so well known around town, the use of a surname was superfluous, if not confusing; he was simply "Joe Ray." Roberson died early Sunday morning after a long illness.

 

Birney Imes: Passage to India

Posted 2/1/2014 in Local Columns

Thursday afternoon while eating Indian food, I thought about Leo Spatz. A bit of history: A native of Germany, Leo came to Columbus in 1935 to manage the restaurant and coffee shop of the Gilmer Hotel, a four-story, Civil-War era brick building where the Gilmer Inn is now. Leo's father ran the kitchen and his wife Florence was hostess. For my mother's generation, the Gilmer was the fashionable place to go.

 

Birney Imes: Hand on heart for Pete Seeger

Posted 1/29/2014 in Local Columns

Tuesday morning I turned on the radio and was greeted by the news of Pete Seeger's death. "Impossible," I thought, stunned.

 

Birney Imes: Watching eagles at Locafoma Lake

Posted 1/18/2014 in Local Columns

On a recent Saturday morning an intrepid group of nature enthusiasts gathered on a strip of pavement at the eastern edge of Locafoma Lake in the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge. They had braved wind and sub-freezing temps in hopes of seeing the Refuge's resident eagles. They had not come in vain.

 

Birney Imes: All of a sudden you remember music

Posted 1/11/2014 in Local Columns

In William Saroyan's short essay "Finlandia," he writes of going into a music store in Helsinki and asking the girl working there if she knows "Finlandia," the symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Saroyan, then 27, had heard the piece five years earlier and had been haunted by it since. The girl finds the record and puts it on the turntable. She and the writer stand and listen to the music, both of them transfixed by its beauty. Afterward Saroyan asks the girl's English-speaking coworker if she knows the composer. She does and gives him a phone number.

 

Birney Imes: Open season on mistletoe

Posted 12/21/2013 in National Columns

The week after Thanksgiving Perry Griggs, The Dispatch's pressroom supervisor, asked me if I knew somewhere he could go to shoot mistletoe. Say that again?

 

Birney Imes: Mary Williams at your service

Posted 12/7/2013 in Local Columns

We operate in a retail world dominated by chain stores. Too often these stores are staffed with lackadaisical clerks with little knowledge of the goods and services they are selling. In fact, so seldom do we encounter competence and enthusiasm in this arena, it is like a blast of cool, fresh air when we do. Here is one such story.

 

Birney Imes: Cats in the basement

Posted 11/23/2013 in Local Columns

About 10 years ago Dispatch pressmen Jerry Hayes and Jamie Morrison found a litter of kittens nestled between the walls in the basement. Hayes, now retired, and Morrison worked in the dark, cavernous space that houses our Goss Urbanite printing press.

 

Birney Imes: Jerry Rice comes home

Posted 11/16/2013 in Local Columns

Sometime in the spring of 1986 the town of Crawford threw a party for one of its native sons, Jerry Rice. After a dazzling college career as a wide receiver at tiny Mississippi Valley State University, Rice had been drafted first round by the San Francisco 49ers. Jerry Rice Appreciation Day was a decidedly homespun affair. There was a parade featuring two Cadillacs. One of them, a salmon-colored convertible, had a front tag proclaiming, "My Other Car is a Cadillac." The event culminated at an unkempt park. A troupe of break-dancers in red sateen outfits performed some impressive acrobatics on flattened refrigerator boxes and then a few people made speeches.

 

Birney Imes: Photograph offers bridge to history

Posted 11/2/2013 in Local Columns

On a winter morning sometime in the late 1920s -- probably 1927 -- photographer O.N. Pruitt unpacked a heavy wooden tripod and planted it in the mud on the west bank of the Tombigbee.

 

Birney Imes: Fortunes and Crispins and Macintoshes, too

Posted 10/26/2013 in Local Columns

A little more than a week ago my brother Stephen and I stood on a hilltop in central New York eating apples. We were lost in a maze of apple trees -- and, frankly, astonished; each tree was laden with more fruit than seemed possible. Endless rows of them, each with their own little street sign: Honeycrisp, Macintosh, Macoun, Empire, Northern Spy and so on.

 

Seen and Heard: Barbour: 'I've had my last government job'

Posted 10/22/2013 in Local Columns

Birney Imes: Checking in with Coach Brewer

Posted 9/28/2013 in National Columns

The other day Tommy McCann came in with a framed black and white photo of three high school football players. Two players in uniform, each holding a football, flank a teammate, who has a cast on his right arm. McCann is on the right and Mike McRaney is on the left. The player in the middle with the cast and a "Lee High" sweatshirt is unmistakably Billy Brewer.

 

Birney Imes: Lynn Spruill's journey

Posted 9/14/2013 in Local Columns

Lynn Spruill grew up in Starkville, the only child of an accountant whose energy level and curiosity exceeded the demands of his practice. L.E. Spruill, the son of a Kolola Springs farmer (his only sibling is the wonderful Frances Jutman of Columbus), also bought, demolished and rebuilt failing subdivisions and rental properties. He did dirt work.

 

Birney Imes: Reunion under the old bridge

Posted 9/7/2013 in Local Columns

Fifty years ago when they were young and beautiful and gas was 35 cents a gallon, they drove their cars across the river bridge to a battered little drive-in with a gravel parking lot. The place was a staging ground for the rituals of their youth: dating, hanging out, racing their father's car down Old Macon Road.

 

 

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