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Birney Imes: Literary notes


Birney Imes



About the new color scheme for Tennessee Williams'' Welcome Center one of our readers wrote, "I think the colors are hideous and have yet to hear anybody else say otherwise." At this writing 38 percent of respondents to our online poll have said otherwise while 54 percent don''t like it. The rest are on the fence. 


While it wasn''t love at first sight for me, I like the colors. They''re distinctive and make a statement. While we can''t say if Tennessee would have approved, I think surely he would have liked the boldness of the choice ... Yes, of course, he would have liked it. 


By all appearances James Tsismanakis and his crew at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, who are responsible for the newly renovated welcome center, are doing good things, and, as importantly, they''re doing them well. The red, smile-inducing double-decker bus for example is a billboard on wheels for the CVB and the city. James is lucky to have in his employ, Stacy Clark, a wiz of a graphic artist. The Catfish on the Alley and the Sam Hairston Celebration posters are among Stacy''s credits. 


Graphic design is important. When it''s right it adds credibility and imparts an air of professionalism; when it''s wrong, just the opposite. Kudos to the CVB who consistently gets it right. 




A classic finally read 


A friend looked at me in amazement when I announced I''d just finished reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the first time. "You''ve seen the movie haven''t you?" he asked, seeking some assurance that I''m not a complete ignoramus. 


What a jewel of a book. Mockingbird is a parable, a morality tale cloaked in a compelling story about duty and growing up in a small town in the Jim Crow South. Not only is it wise ("The one thing that doesn''t abide by majority rule is a person''s conscience," says Atticus Finch in Chapter 11), it is funny ("I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year." Scout, Chapter 9.) and poignant ("It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived." Scout, Chapter 11.). 


I copied onto my bookmark another quote of Scout''s: "People in their right minds never take pride in their talents." 


A friend, who is a children''s librarian, said she reads the book every summer. A few years back, she and her husband traveled to Monroeville, Ala., the setting of the book and hometown of its author, to see the courthouse and attend the performance on the courthouse lawn. 


"To Kill a Mockingbird" ought to be required reading for every law student and a copy of it presented with every law school diploma. 


And the world could use a few more Atticus Finches. 




Lunch with books 


For those of you interested in books, you''re missing out if you''re not attending the delightful lunch with books program, Table Talk, at the Columbus Library on Wednesdays in September. 


Most recently, Jo Shumake, George Hazard and Nina Ferrante talked about their favorite books from childhood. Jo liked "The Little Engine that Could;" George named "Freddy and the Bean Home News" (About a pig starting a newspaper. George is a former Dispatch city editor, who still has ink in his blood.); Nina loved Edgar Rice Burroughs'' Tarzan series. 


As a child I loved the Hardy Boys books, the popular and long-lived series about two teenage detectives. I got my fix among the stacks of Douglas Bateman''s Chimney''s Book Store on 11th Street South between Main and College streets. There I spent many happy hours sitting on the wooden floor of a small room that smelled of Bateman''s pipe pondering what seemed a world of choices. 


According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, The Hardy Boys (written by ghost writers) books still sell more than a million a year and have been translated into 25 languages. 


George said something Wednesday worth repeating: "Children''s books of that era showed the value of optimism," he said. 


Yes, I think so. Optimism, something we could all use more of. And to that end, George, I''ve just ordered "Freddy and the Bean Home News." 


Upcoming Table Talk programs include: 


Sept. 15 -- "The Seduction of Melancholy: Emerging from Malaise in the Novels of Walker Percy, with Dr. Thomas Easterling, Department of English, Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science; 


Sept. 22 -- "Richard Wright and Uncle Tom''s Children," with Dr. Kim Whitehead, Department of English, Mississippi University for Women. 


Sept. 29 -- "Previewing the Eudora Welty Writers'' Symposium (Oct. 21-23)," with Dr. Tom Richardson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, MUW. 




A Dispatch pen and a what? 


One more thing: What do you say to a 4-year-old who wants a credit card and a Dispatch pen for his birthday? No problem with the pen, but what are you going to do with the credit card, Benjamin?  


"Buy toys."  


Dumb question.


Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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