What kind of news do you like? -- Blood and gore?

In more than half a century in the news business (and still counting), it seems inescapable that the general public is drawn to “bad news.” It just seems to be in our nature to gawk and almost revel at scenes of misery and tragedy.
One of the best arguments showing folks propensity for “blood and gore,” is a car wreck on a busy, major thoroughfare.
Naturally, the traffic on the side where the accident occurred is either stopped or crawling along. On the opposite side of the road, for no apparent good reason, traffic is creeping its way past the scene.
It is my contention that most of us are, if not downright bloodthirsty, drawn to “bad news.” That is, I believe we seem to thrive on someone else’s troubles.
And, that, brothers and sisters, is why the news media will almost always go with the most horrific news as the headline lead story. Morbid curiosity. It’s in every one of us.


Cousin Dooley and his sleek, black 1950 Mercury

Perhaps junior high age boys aren’t as gullible and impressionable as they were when I was that age.
In my hometown, one campus served both the high school and the junior high, grades 7-12, with 210 students total. If you wanted to be the Big Man on Campus (BMOC), you either had a really long wait or it was never. The latter was the norm.
I was in my first year on that campus, located on Main Street that also doubled as U.S. Highway 84.
During that year, I had a big boost in my status (at times, at least) since my cousin Dooley lived in a rooming house cat-a-corner from the campus. Dooley had returned from military service, had gone to work for the railroad and had bought himself a brand new black 1950 Mercury 2-door.


Memory jogged about those who gave me a leg up in life

Some of us are blessed to have true blood brothers. I have three, all younger, and they each can give me a giant case of puffy chest.
If you have friends so cherished that you feel they are truly brothers, then you are doubly blessed as I am.
Sometimes, things happen in life that jog my memory concerning those who have made invaluable contributions to my life.
Two natural brothers — Rigby Owen Jr. and Steve Owen — have been major players for me all of my adult life. I have been in their employment and also in business as a partner with them. What I have gained from their friendship and “brotherhood” is immeasurable. And, thankfully, it continues.
“Big brother” Steve jogged my memory a little deeper recently when he sent me a book about a man — Don Reid Jr. — who was a major influence and helper in my college years.


Great thing about my job: meeting interesting people

Several years ago, one of our nieces spent part of a day riding around with Life Mate Julie while she tracked down news. After a while she said “You have a great job; you get to get in everyone’s business and you get paid for it.”
Perhaps that’s how some people might see it, but one of the very best things about our business is the interesting people we get to meet. And, if we’re lucky, we get to know them well.
One of the first interesting and delightful people I met when I moved to Jasper was attorney Joe Tonahill.
Tonahill was a personal injury-trial attorney with quite the reputation for winning big sums of money for his clients. Most of his cases were of a personal injury nature.
Of course, I’d heard of him before we met. His time in the headlines had little to do with the majority of his cases. What got him the big headlines was a national trial.


Not all Tabasco's products are hot stuff, some are sweet

My cowboy daddy, the late Lawrence Ray (L. Ray) Webb, saw to it that spicy seasoning was a staple around the household when he and Mom were raising four sons.
Dad spent a lot of his early childhood in Brady and spicy food — a definite Mexican influence via a significant Hispanic population — was plentiful. So, naturally he craved as much of the taste as possible. Mom, being the typical housewife and mother of the times, sought to satisfy that taste as much as possible.
While, her central Texas farm-raising gave her recipes and talents for creating in the kitchen, she was also good at old-fashioned canning. One area of canning involved relishes that were used to season everything, particularly the typically somewhat bland pinto bean and black-eyed peas dishes.


On small town newspapers and microphone thrusters

Folks at small town newspapers for any length of time have been subjected to “microphone thrusters” at Friday night football games.
Over the years, I have found that small town radio stations are faced with some of the same problems as country newspapers, principally a shortage of help that leads to a lot of double duty. And, despite some natural enmity, bred by the competitiveness to be the best news medium in your town, there comes a natural tendency to latch onto a little help from “the enemy” in certain situations. That enmity never seemed to spill over into real war. Some even conceded that helping each other out never seemed to be impeded by the competitiveness.


Literate, brilliant, sophisticated — loaded with talent

An ad brought her to my office. She was tall, pushing 50, red-haired, freckled and had a prominent overbite. Yet, there was something very different about the woman with the ordinary name Helen Smith.
My widely cast net in the summer of 1971 called for someone to recreate our then-labeled “society” pages in the Conroe Courier. We were looking for a talent that could brainstorm with us and change the coverage and tone of the newspaper section.
Our idea and vision of the “new” section was to reflect the diverse woman emerging from the shackles of housewifedom, swirling about looking for a challenging place in a rapidly changing social and employment world for the “fairer sex.” The section, we decided, must reflect the woman’s emergence from keeping house, raising kids and waltzing from the “ladies” garden club to the grocery store to preparing a dinner for her husband’s business clients.


Age, walking cane ended the fun dancing days

Age carries lots of burdens with it. Among them is “blame” for ending fun things you did as a young person. So, I have no compunction about hanging the blame turkey of “no dancing” around the neck of age and maybe lack of opportunity.

As a teenager, I got the yen to learn about dancing when I got the news of the high school junior-senior prom during my junior year. Now, I’d never danced, well except maybe a short victory jig after a ball game.


Insomnia resurrects past flirtation with abject poverty

A recent one-night bout with insomnia and the always-resulting thought swirls, resurrected some childhood experiences that steeled the determination already being forced into my young mind about “succeeding in life.”

My parents worked hard as beginner farmer-ranchers to successfully keep us a few meals above the starvation-poverty level. Their aim was twofold: providing a living and setting an example of “trying to get ahead.” That was the battle cry of most post-World War II families.


Funny how life’s twists, turns shape attitudes, goals

Most of us are or have been dreamers. As youngsters, we see or read about successful, well-known people. Everyone says wonderful things about them, so we start developing our ideas about life’s journey based on those attitudes.


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