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Columns

  • Shelby County's most wonderful import from England

    We were maybe 7 years old when we first heard that elegant accent, something so foreign as to be indefinable to our uncultured, tone-deaf ears. All we knew was that this wasn’t the flat twang heard all around Shelby County, which in those days was dead to any sort sound of elsewhere.

    But those of us who hung around Simpsonville soon learned that the words and dialect of a friend’s mother were in fact the King’s English, perfected in the British Isles and brought to America to sing for us on just about any occasion.

  • Our Halloween frocks of froth

    Lesson No. 666,666 that I am becoming a curmudgeon: Halloween costumes.

    Have you been to a costume store this fall looking for the best way to deck out your little ones for the annual Halloween sugarfest?

  • Filling a gap in our history

    When you visit historic sites – particularly those that dealt with the founding and discovery of our great nation – do you conjure what that place must have been like for the persons who first trod in your footprints? Have you wondered about the hardships they experienced, how they first encountered the vistas you so simply accessed?

  • A confession of true colors

    There is a confession that I must scrape from my heart and address publicly for the first time. I do so with temerity and humility, because this is not something you or I like to admit. I ask your acceptance and beg your tolerance, because only recently did I come to understand this blemish on my character.

    I come from a heritage of mixed colors.

    There, I’ve said it, and it wasn’t easy. I don’t even think my parents have realized this, that my history is not as clear as I had grown up believing.

  • Reading is right the thing to do

    The author Tracy Gayle uttered some frightening words the other day: Nobody reads anymore, she said. They have their phones in front of them. She is in position to see this literary loss far more clearly than most of us: She teaches kids to read for her living and tries to sell the novels she writes for her soul.

    As reality-pounding as that assessment was, it was only the last of a series of jackhammers that have cracked my soul in recent days.

  • This ridiculous shutdown hits close to home

    There is uncertainty in the land today. Our mighty government has struck out.

    That means different things to each of you. It means something entirely different to me today than it did in 1995, when such stupidity ruled.

    That’s because I realized that a shutdown could have meant my son wouldn’t get paid this week.

  • The real question about football

    It’s a question that first resonated in my life 40 years ago and now has roared back with full force:

    Why do people allow their children to play football?

    It’s a question I asked myself when I first became a father, and now that the game has grown far more powerful than its rules and equipment can manage, I hear it amplify from a whisper to a shout:

    Why do parents allow their precious children to play tackle football?

  • Crotchety may in fact be an apt description

    Let’s begin with a cliche: Age is simply a number. Or another: You’re only as old as you feel.

    Or, as Mitch Albom suggested in his quirky The Time Keeper: If we didn’t measure time, would we know that it was passing?

    Those are thoughts at the top of my quickly crowding cranium because I recently had one of those landmark birthdays that give us pause and has us studying the mirror and dreading the horizon – and chanting it’s only a number, it’s only a number.

  • Celebrating a true labor of love

    On Friday a friend and former colleague posted these warm but ironic words on his Facebook page:

    “Happy Labor Day weekend everyone. Let’s hope we still have jobs on Monday.”

    His twist, you should know, comes from having been through the start-up, layoff pattern that so besets journalism in the digital age. You hear the bulletins of print operations lopping jobs, but so many of those we know and love years ago leaped to new ventures on the Web only to find themselves unwanted before the ink was dry on their paychecks.

  • How we cater to our cattle

    Having spent, like many boys and girls in Shelby County’s history, my formative years in keen observation of cows, I am continually amazed by the devotion families have to them, how delicately they treat them and care for them. Sometimes I have to wonder if some among us of have converted to Hindu, so revered are their bovine gods and goddesses. At least cows aren’t allowed to roam the streets anywhere this side of New Delhi.