It is June 2002, and I am sitting in the middle of the West Alabama Gazette's office in Millport, Ala., writing an editorial for The Northport Gazette, the WAG's sister paper. The doors are flung open, and as dusk dims to dark, the cicadas increase their pitch.
Wispy clouds littered the blue sky on a warm, clear day. The humidity was low, and the sun was edging toward the tree line.
Tuesday, Starkville voters will go to the polls to choose a mayor. Incumbent Parker Wiseman faces a stiff challenge from Republican challenger Dan Moreland. In recent weeks, Moreland's campaign -- thought to be badly damaged by a recent audit that showed sloppy accounting and budgeting practices in the Starkville Parks Commission -- has gained momentum.
On Tuesday, voters in Columbus will go to the polls to select a mayor and the final seat on the city council. What sort of turn-out can be expected is unclear.
So tell me, what are you reading this summer? If you were going to recommend a book to a stranger or friend, what would it be? This was a question I put to half a dozen or so local readers.
One hundred and fifty years ago the Alice Vivian, a Tombigbee River steamboat turned Confederate blockade runner, was captured by the USS DeSoto while attempting to sail from Mobile to Havana, Cuba. Few steamboats anywhere experienced history as did the Alice Vivian.
Suppose you pick up your paper and a headline says the school superintendent is "declaring war" on dropping out of school. You would infer the superintendent will deploy assets and tactics to reduce the number of students who quit before receiving their diplomas.
Dr. Harry Sherman called and asked if we could meet at Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center. We toured the exhibits and he pointed out the merlin, a small falcon that had the misfortune to collide into our sunroom's window. The merlin was now immortalized in the nature exhibit.
When I saw the lizard sunning himself at the top of the door jam, it occurred to me I was standing where Martin Dain had stood just over 50 years earlier with his Leica as William Faulkner closed the door below where the lizard now sat unblinking.
Often the photos are faded and bent, and though fewer and fewer remain who remember the names, their sacrifice is still ours to honor. They include the members of the "Greatest Generation," who gave their lives so we could be free. That whole generation is fast leaving us, which means it is up to us to pass on their legacy.
Remember when Coke bottles had the name of the town where it had been bottled stamped on the bottom? The other day while my grandson and I were knocking around in a vacant lot, he found a piece of one of these old bottles with "Columbus, Miss." on the bottom. When I told him it was an old bottle, he asked if it had been around when Elvis was alive.
Today, few people realize the extent of European activity during the 1700s in the Tombigbee Valley or how European conflicts between the French and English spilled over into our region. The 1700s were turbulent times in northeast Mississippi and west Alabama.
When Joseph and Mary donkeyed up and headed for Bethlehem, they knew the reason. It was to visit the tax man and pay up.
On a recent Tuesday the streets of many of our municipalities were lined with fellow citizens and supporters of mayoral, aldermanic, and council candidates waving signs and banners in behalf of their favorites. It was gratifying to see such an outpouring because in many of these towns the stakes are perhaps higher than they have ever been before.
I have had the good fortune to live in two cities with rich histories. New Orleans and Columbus have many fascinating tales to tell. Both love the stories of their pasts and keep them alive with written and oral retellings.
We've all witnessed it. You're in a restaurant and at a nearby table a couple sitting across from each other are both engrossed in their cell phones. A friend calls it "prayer meeting."
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2. Bill Crawford: Mississippi needs every federal dollar it can get NATIONAL COLUMNS
3. Roses and thorns 8/28/16 ROSES & THORNS
4. Leonard Pitts: 'Hillbilly Elegy': a portrait of America's unseen NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Patrick Buchanan: Lots of smoke here, Hillary NATIONAL COLUMNS