My Newspaper “Career”

I had a special 8th-Grade English class. It was also the school newspaper staff of Jarrett Junior High School. We had a cool teacher (gee, what was her name?) and, for part of the year, a student teacher. We were a bit more at ease than in 7th grade English, a class run with military precision and very dry humor by ‘Sarge’ Harsen.

There are several things about that class that won’t leave me. On November 22nd, 1963, I was walking down stairs to English when the news swept through the crowded hallways: President Kennedy had been shot.

Our teacher was very composed while informing us that the news was true, and that the President was dead. The student teacher cried. I still remember the exact place on the stairway where I heard the terrible news. I would like to go back to Jarrett on November 22nd, 2013, and step down that stairway for a photograph.

I was a rather mediocre journalist in 8th grade. Occasionally, I got to write the “Felix Flea” column. It was – can you believe this? – a gossip column. Felix Flea lived in an undisclosed location, unnoticed and unharmed, where he snooped on the kiddies. My contributions to his column were vacuous, because I had no idea what was going on! The best part of Felix Flea was making a “printing block“. This was an incredibly crappy (dangerous, slow) way to produce a printable graphic, long before computers made graphics artwork a ubiquitous activity. Take a look at the link. I am still amazed that I didn’t run a gouge up the side of a finger. Take a look at that link.

My association with newspapers resumed last year, when I endeavored to persevere in an open, uncontrolled forum. Yeah, right. It’s like being in a room full of insomniac 3rd-Graders who are high on Halloween candy and just finished watching Barney commit suicide. My editorial submissions received everything except substantive Comments. My offers as Comments fared exactly the same. This blog exists because I would rather be ignored (and what a fiiiine job you all are doing with that!) than be spoken to like a spouse in a marriage that is on the verge of transforming a Nuclear Family into a Nuclear War.

I relented recently, took a triple dose of Xanax, and watched the result of a Joplin Globe version of one blog. The Globe re-titled it ‘Judicial Activism is for Constructionists‘, from ‘Judicial Activism for Strict Constructionists’, because that’s what fit. There is nothing more important in journalism than filling the allotted space as consistently as an IHOP waitress fills salt shakers. You must never spill an extra “Strict” onto a second line, and produce about 3/4’s of a line of blank space.

Against all prior experience, after I had utterly conceded the concept that anonymous Commenters might offer anything of worth, came this hilarious example of simultaneous ignorance and perception. My response follows:

observation writes:
I don’t know why in the world the paper doesn’t put my post up if it posts all these others, but…. I think Stones’ picture that he runs with this peice is a hoot! Could you find a more pretentious, pseudointellectual look that “the thinker” pose?! Fits his writing to a “t”.

Jim writes:
‘Observation’, you made my day! It’s about time someone made that observation. I had come to believe that nothing substantive would arise in this forum. My #1 Grandson will also appreciate your contribution. He took the photo, and he wanted me to use it. I am as proud to use it as I am of him – he is awesome. I hope that you and other readers get the same joy from the kids in the family. Peace.

That’s all I have to say about my “career”. At this point, I have 1/2 column inch that I am supposed to fill. The only other requirement is that the words are spelled correctly. They might be, but not because my WordPress spell checker is useful. I avoid its recommendations, because it struggles mightily against grammar and syntax that weren’t offered in McGuffy’s Reader. Anybody got some extra “em”s that I can use to pad this out?


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All original material Copyright James R. Stone 2010, except where specifically noted. Some images licensed under Creative Commons, or GNU Free Documentation License, or unlicensed and public domain.

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