Why Jordan Auditorium Renovation is Special to a Lot of Folks

October 21, 2014


I’m really glad the Muscogee County School Board voted to renovate the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium. It is an important piece of Columbus history. I wrote a post about it 2010. it follows.

Originally posted on Dick's World:

The architectural firm that will handle the renovation of the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium hasn’t been selected yet.  (It’s in the last 7 of the 15 SPLOST construction projects.  Architects for the first 9 projects were chosen Saturday.)  When it is selected, I am sure somebody will let its leader know just how important their project will be.  That’s not to say the other projects are unimportant, but we are talking some real history here.

1947 JVHS Red Jacket Band, Jordan auditorium, Columbus, Georgia

That Jordan auditorium, which, in my view, is probably still the most impressive of all of the high school auditoriums in Columbus,  not only served the Jordan student body, but was used by the Three Arts League and other organizations. For Columbus newcomers, or those not old enough to remember, the Three Arts League was an organization made up of  Columbus cultural leaders who brought in world-class symphony orchestras,  solo performers, and roadshow Broadway plays and musicals from the…

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October 20, 2014



Would You Want Your Teenager to Play High School Football?

October 13, 2014

After learning that MCSD Superintendent David Lewis may propose building a new high school football stadium with new SPLOST money, I had to reflect on whether we should have high school  football.

“Concussion rates in the high school game are 78% higher than in college, according to  the Institute of Medicine,” reports an article in TIME, the same article that tells us that three high school players died within a week. A neurology professor says the teenage brain is still developing. The electrical wiring is not fully insulated. Neck muscles are weaker than college players.

When a University of Georgia player died from game injuries in 1897, the Georgia legislature passed a law banning college football.  The player’s mother asked the  governor  to veto the bill. He did.  Maybe he shouldn’t have.

If I had a teenager, would I want him to play high school football?  No. 



The Teacher Vote

October 6, 2014
"What's Happening" CALL Class at CSU Elizabeth Bradley Turner Continuing Education Center

“What’s Happening” CALL Class at CSU Elizabeth Bradley Turner Continuing Education Center

It was surprising to hear that so many public school teachers don’t go to the trouble to register and vote. That’s what a Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning  current events class learned from Muscogee County School District Superintendent David Lewis.  He, outgoing school board member Cathy Williams and incoming member Frank Myers discussed the status of public education in Columbus with members of the”What’s Happening” class. Lewis urged members of the class, which includes a lot of retired teachers, to work to get teachers to register and vote.

Judging from what retired teacher Connie Ussery tells us, a lot of teachers are really unhappy with the state of public schools.  She recently talked with a high school and an elementary school teacher, good friends of hers, and both said they are thinking  about getting out of the profession.  They love their students, but the increased teaching load caused by budget cuts and the increased paper work are demoralizing them. 

Connie says, “I could feel the frustration in these women. I kept saying I was sorry. Then we all assured each other that we would do all we can to get educators registered to vote. If only 38% of our educators are registered voters, no one in Atlanta or Washington will consider their concerns and frustrations will grow. Teachers have to empower themselves as voters.”

It is a powerful weapon, one that teachers must use if they are going to elect political leaders who will support public education.



Happy 90th Birthday to my “Old Friend” from Plains

October 2, 2014

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Yes, I can claim to be an “old friend” of President Jimmy Carter. That’s because he called me that when I met and shook hands with him at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains in July.  A group of my friends and I attended his famous Sunday school class.  That handshake was really special because visitors were asked not to try to shake hands with him.  Too many really firm  handshakes cause problems for someone who  has been around for nine decades.  I was going to follow instructions not to do it, but when he recognized me, his face lit up as he grabbed my hand, shook it, smiled his famous smile and said, “Oh, my old friend. How have you been?” I only chatted with him briefly because there was a line of people behind me waiting to have their pictures taken with him and Mrs. Carter.

It was truly an honor to hear those words “my old friend.”  President Carter – I could call him Jimmy and he wouldn’t mind, I’m sure – but, I don’t.  I like  calling him “President.”  Not only because he is one of the people in this world that I  respect and admire the most,  but because so many people were truly shocked when he was elected President of the United States. I wasn’t. I figured he was going to win from the time that he and Martin Luther King, Sr. joined and raised their hands to sing “We Shall Overcome” with the rest of the delegates at the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City.

I was in New York attending a dinner CBS News had for affiliated stations’ news departments during the presidential nominating primaries. One of the CBS staffers raised the question of who might get the Democratic Party nomination.  After a list of names was suggested by those around our table, I said, “What about Jimmy Carter?” The New York fellows almost laughed at the thought. I was thinking how sweet it would be if he got the nomination.  How sweet it was. And how much sweeter it was when he won.

The first time I saw him at a 3rd  Congressional District Democratic Convention at the Rylander Theater in Americus in the 1960s, just based on his looks and charisma, I said to myself that man is going places in politics.  That’s when I started covering the man who would rise from chairman of the Sumter County School Board in 1961 to become the 39th President of the United States in 1977.  

Jimmy Carter is not only a brave man,  but, more importanly, he is a good man.

Appreciating Great Music

September 29, 2014


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How do you  get  people to  learn to appreciate and  enjoy really great symphonic, classical, and jazz music?

First of all, you have to expose them to it, preferably at a young age.

The Columbus State University Schwob School of Music is playing a major role in doing that in our area.  A prime example is the free concert for children held at  the National Infantry Museum Sunday afternoon.  The children and their parents and grandparents got to hear some extraordinary piano, cello, vocal and jazz combo performances by CSU faculty and student musicians, including some very young ones.  Schwob offers courses to young children as well as college students. The concert selections were all done in an entertaining way that young children could enjoy,  introduced by a female student in a “Pianosaurus” costume. Judging by the reaction of the children in the audience, it worked. They loved it.  

There will be many more free concerts for children of all ages by these extraordinarily talented Schwob students.  The school’s website tells you where and when.  Just click on this link.




September 22, 2014

Never heard of it? 

Well, bellicosis is a disease suffered by those who love war and like to see their country in one continuously. It is often fatal and has caused millions of deaths, quite often not to  those with the disease,  since many are quite happy to let other people fight those wars. 

So far, no vaccine has been successful in preventing bellicosis.




What Do Tchaikovsky and “The Roosevelts” Have In Common?

September 15, 2014

They provided me with an enjoyable weekend. 

CSO Conductor George Del Gobbo conducting his "Know the Score" pre-concert session.  He told us all about Tchaikovsky and his powerful and beautiful music  before the concert. Not only was it informative, but entertaining. The complimentary wine added to the enjoyment.

CSO Conductor George Del Gobbo conducting his “Know the Score” pre-concert session. He told us all about Tchaikovsky and his powerful and beautiful music before the concert. Not only was it informative, but entertaining. The complimentary wine added to the enjoyment.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s all-Tchaikovsky concert Saturday evening provided a wonderful demonstration of how the sound of a first-class orchestra can lift your spirits to dazzling heights. It was a marvelous experience in transporting sound.  And the champagne and dessert reception before the concert didn’t hurt.  It really helped that the dessert came in small portions. You got that great taste without sending your blood sugar through the roof.

Columbus Symphony in Bill Heard Theater at the River Center.

Columbus Symphony in Bill Heard Theater at the River Center.

Watching Episode 1 of Ken Burn’s “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” was also a special experience.  I have read a few books about Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt and thought I knew a lot about them.  Watching the Burn’s film provided not only some things I didn’t know, but did it in an arresting way with the use of historic movie film and still photographs to great effect.  I knew that Theodore liked war, but I didn’t realize how he took great pleasure in being a killer in Cuba during the Spanish-American War until I saw the Burn’s film.  It wasn’t something he had to do, but something that he wanted to do. That was one side of him.  Another side was his drive to improve the lives of the working class of America, even though he was a wealthy New York aristocrat.   I’m looking forward to the rest of the series on GPTV which runs all this week.




September 10, 2014

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As Maestro George Del Gobbo says, “There is nothing in the world like hearing a symphony orchestra live.” The first symphony  orchestra I heard live was the Pittsburg Symphony when it came to Columbus in the mid-1940s. I have been hooked on that wonderful  sound since. And, believe me, being live makes a huge difference.

The CSO  season, which starts Saturday, Sept. 13 at the River Center at 7:30, has something for everyone, including a concert that features the lush sounds of a symphony playing some country music  favorites. The opener Saturday is an all Tchaikovsky  concert. This is great powerful, passionate, romantic, beautiful symphonic music with  melodies that you’ll humming on your way back to your car. Do yourself a favor and join me Saturday and experience what Maestro Del Gobbo says is sound that “comes from the depths of the human soul.”

Oh, the T-shirt is something I won a few years ago when the orchestra held a pops concert that featured an audience quiz.  The orchestra played excerpts and the person who identified the most titles won some tickets and a T-shirt.  It was my lucky  day. I got all of them.  The concert had been scheduled for the band shell in Weracoba Park, but it was moved into the Jordan High auditorium because of rain. That old auditorium has excellent acoustics.

Now’s A Good Time to Visit the Little White House Again

September 9, 2014

My DVR is set to record every episode of Ken Burn’s “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.”  The seven-episode documentary about Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt starts Sunday, September 14th, and runs for seven consecutive nights on PBS.

After seeing an impressive preview film of the documentary at the River Center,  a friend and I decided now would be a good time to go to Warm Springs, have lunch at the Bulloch House (really good country cooking and historic ambiance),  and return to the Little White House  for a visit to the newest museum and  the presidential cottage and the historic  pools museum.

 When I was about 13, I swam in that famous pool that was fed by warm spring water and used by President Roosevelt and other polio patients at the  Georgia Warm Springs  Foundation.  It would be open to the public on some holidays.  My family took advantage of that one weekend during World War II.  A young Fort Benning soldier and his wife, who rented a room in our home, went with us.   

The new museum is impressive and does have some artifacts that the old one didn’t display.  The old museum is now used as an office building for the state park.  The very first museum was in the basement of the Little White House.  

We really enjoyed the visit.  I was quite familiar with the cottage because not only have I visited it a number of times, I did a documentary for WRBL on it and the old museum back in the 1980s.  I hadn’t seen it in years, so I had forgotten some of the details, but  as we toured it again, I got the same feeling of “seeing it now” – Edward R. Murrow did a series of historical documentaries for CBS called :See It Now” –  this time.

I actually saw FDR when I was a small boy.  It was only for a few seconds.   Our family car was one of many sitting on the side of Warm Springs Road so we could  watch the presidential sedan  go by as he returned to Warm Springs after a Columbus visit.  

When working for WSB Radio in Atlanta, I interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt and Dr. Jonas Salk, developer of the Salk vaccine which helped eradicate polio,  in 1958 for a feature for NBC Radio about the 20th anniversary celebration of  National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.  

There have been documentaries about Teddy, FDR, and Eleanor, but none that I know of that showed how their lives intertwined.  Paul Giamatti, Meryl Streep,  Doris Kerns Goodwin, and David McCullough are among the well-known voice-over cast.  I am really looking forward to this one.           


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