Archive for October, 2013

My Memoir “The Newsman” is Now an eBook

October 28, 2013

newsman-cover-jpg1While many more people still read traditional print books, the number of eBook readers continues to grow, The latest figures I could find show that  about 23 percent of book sales are eBooks.

My memoir, “The Newsman,” which I highly recommend, is a now an Xlibris eBook. It’s available at and the Kindle store at  I read Kindle books on my iPad.

You can still order the printed version in either hardback or perfect bound softback at

What Jim Woodruff, Jr. and James “Alley Pat” Patrick Have in Common

October 21, 2013

They received two coveted awards at  the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame Induction Awards Ceremony Saturday night in Marietta, Georgia.

James W. Woodruff, Jr.

James W. Woodruff, Jr.

Jim Woodruff, Jr., President and General Manager of WRBL Radio and TV, was my friend and boss for more than 20 years.  He was honored posthumously with the Elmo Ellis Spirit Award.  I worked for Elmo Ellis at WSB Radio for four years.  Both of the men were Georgia broadcasting giants.  I learned a lot from both of  them.

James "Alley Pat" Patrick

James “Alley Pat” Patrick

James “Alley Pat” Patrick received the Georgia Radio  Hall of Fame Founders and Directors Award.  He, at age 94, was there to personally accept the award.  He brought the house down with his outrageously insulting humor.  I could not believe that someone 94 years old could have the energy to be as funny as he was.  As the video about his life told us, he started his radio career in the ’40s on Atlanta’s first black-owned radio station WERD-AM.  He left radio for a while to become Atlanta’s first black bail-bondsman, actively working with civil rights leaders to bail protestors out of jail during civil rights struggles.  A theatrical documenarty film has been made about him. It calls him the “Real Mouth of  the South.”

No doubt that is a take-off on the old WSB “50,000-watt Voice of the  South” slogan.  I have to admit the  first time I announced that station break on the 50,000-watt Voice of the South in 1957 I felt very special, because that station was and is a broadcasting giant.  More so then, I think, than it is now.  I once asked Elmo Ellis about the ratings.  Knowing I was doing the morning news, he said the station had more viewers in the morning than all other Atlanta stations combined.  I don’t think anyone in Atlanta can claim that now.

Dina Woodruff,  Jim Woodruff, III, and Janet Beerman

Dina Woodruff, Jim Woodruff, III, and Janet Beerman

Janet Beerman, Ellis’ daughter, who made the Elmo Ellis Spirit Award presentation, introduced the short video about Jim Woodruff, Jr.’s life.  It was my honor to narrate that video, especially when I saw that the Woodruff family – some 20 of his progeny were there – was pleased that I did it.  The video only ran for two  minutes so a lot had to be left out.  For instance, I wasn’t able to tell that Woodruff was instrumental  in launching the University of Georgia Football Radio Network, with WRBL Radio feeding play-by-ply of Georgia games to stations all over Georgia for a number of years.  Also, I had to leave out that he was instrumental in putting Georgia’s first  commercial FM station , WRBL-FM,  on the air right after World  War II.  At one  time Woodruff was involved administratively in four family owned stations in Georgia, including WATL in Atlanta, and WGPC in Albany. 

What a great night it was, filled with historic images of Georgia’s many radio stations, and with laughs aplenty supplied by  still-living radio personalities.  Thanks so much to Debbie and Jim Woodruff, III, for inviting former WRBL co-workers Don Nahley, Al Fleming, and me to the event.  All of us had a marvelous time.

Lincoln Was Not the First to Emancipate Slaves in America

October 14, 2013
Governor's Palace, Williamsburg

Governor’s Palace, Williamsburg, VA

The things you learn when you actually go to a place you’ve read and seen television show about!  Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia got some attention when I took Dr. John Lupold’s course at Columbus College in historic preservation.  The course was not extremely popular.  I was the only student in the class.  I don’t know why. It was really interesting and changed my views on rundown old buildings.  They have important stories to tell. Colonial Williamsburg really came to life when I visited there recently.

The Governor’s Palace was built in 1706 for the British Governors of the Colony of Virginia.  It is anything but rundown.  It is quite opulent.  It’s not the real thing, though,  but we’re told it is very much like the real thing before it burned.   Like most of the buildings in Colonial Virginia’s second capital city – Jamestown was the first –  it’s a replica,  We can thank philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his wife for all those replicas, including the second Capitol of Virginia.     

First Capitol of Virginia, Williamsburg

Second Capitol of Colonial Virginia, Williamsburg, VA

 John Murray, better known as Lord Dunmore, was the last British governor to preside in that building.  When the American colonists took over in the Revolutionary War, he, his wife, and three daughters went back to England.  Patrick Henry, of “Give me liberty or give me death” fame,  became the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first governor and not only presided in the Capitol,  but also moved into the Governor’s Palace.  Thomas Jefferson, the second govenor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, also lived there.   

Lord Dunmore, however, did some interesting things during the war, one of which was to issue a proclamation freeing slaves in the Colony of Virginia who would fight  on the British side.  Some 2,000 took him up on the offer.  However, as you know, the British didn’t win, and slavery remained in effect in  Virginia until President Abraham Lincoln freed them during the Civil War.

Actor portraying Maj. Gen. Lafayette, Williamsburg, VA

Actor portraying Maj. Gen. Lafayette, Williamsburg, VA

The employees and volunteers working at Colonial Williamsburg do a great job of giving visitors a feeling for what it was like to live in Colonial Williamsburg.  They wore the clothing and spoke the language of 18th Century America.  They also have finely developed senses of humor. Speaking in the present tense, the guide who took us on a tour of the Governor’s Palace had a great rapport with the tourists, especially the children.  When she explained that Lord Dunmore’s wife insisted that he sleep in the same bed with her because she wanted to know where the governor was at night, an eight-year-old boy who she had cultivated said, “That would do it,” everyone laughed. 

The day is climaxed with a parade by a fife and drum corps,  an appearance by “Maj. General Lafayette,” the French soldier who became an American hero in the Revolutionary War – the guide said when he returned to visit after war,  he was so admired that he never had to pay for his ale in a tavern – and the firing of an 18th Century cannon.  

Neal Wickham’s New Dream

October 10, 2013
Neal Wickham at the Rotary Club of Columbus outdoor luncheon  by the  Chattahoochee River Whitewater Rapids.

Neal Wickham at the Rotary Club of Columbus outdoor luncheon by the Chattahoochee River Whitewater Rapids

How about a zip line from atop the Eagle and Phenix smokestacks?  WIckham thinks it's a good idea.

How about a zip line from atop the Eagle and Phenix smokestacks? WIckham thinks it’s a good idea.

First, the dream.  Enter Neal Wickham, retired outdoor supplies retailer, environmentalist, and naturalist.  John Turner, the driving force behind developing the whitewater project on the Chattahoochee River in downtown Columbus and Phenix City  credited Wickham with the idea of  breaching the cotton mill dams.  Wickham didn’t deny it. He told me he first made the suggestion back in the 1970s when then Ledger-Enquirer Editorial Page Editor Billy Winn wrote an editorial saying Columbus needed an “it” to promote the area.  Wickham said he wrote to Winn that breaching the mill dams would provide that “it. ”  Turns out he was right.

Turner said the whitewater project is succeeding in getting Columbus the kind of attention it needs to attract people from all over the country.  He said now when he tells people he’s from Columbus, Georgia, they say, “Oh, that city with the crazy river running through the downtown area.”  

Well, guess what? Neal Wickham has come up with another dream that could cause a lot of talk all over America.  He told me today that a zip line attached to the Eagle and Phenix Mill smokestacks crossing the  Chattahoochee River would be a huge attraction.  He is probably right.  Wonder if they are stable enough for elevators to take people to the top to hook onto  the the zip-line.  I’m pretty sure it would be easy to get an expert on such things to find out.  Just imagine what it would be like to zip over the Chattahoochee rapids from Columbus to Phenix City.  As someone at today’s Rotary event said, Wickham would be probably the first to do the zipping.  At 83, he was the oldest Rotarian to ride the rapids in a raft today.

My Dell with Windows Vista Doesn’t Know me Any More

October 8, 2013

Here I was, all set to write a post on my recent visit to Williamsburg, Virginia replete with pictures when BAM! my 6-year-old Dell laptop with Windows Vista decided it didn’t know me any more.  A notice came up saying that my Profile Service service had failed. That meant I couldn’t get to my pictures which had been transferred to my PhotoShop 6 from my camera card.  I have since learned I can get a camera card adapter for my iPad, which fortunately still works fine, and I’ll take care of that tomorrow.  So maybe I’ll be able to to do the post on Williamsburg tomorrow.

Then, again, if the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning class we call What’s Happening, a current affairs discussion class, produces some espeically interesting information on the subject “Why Has the Georgia Legislature Abandonned Public Education?” I’ll probably do a post on that and wait till later on Williamsburg.  Georgia State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican, and Rep. Carolyn Hugley, a Democrat,  will participate in the discussion at the CSU Turner Continuing Ed Center.  There is a good chance that someone will try to refute the premise of the subject and tell us that the Georgia Legislature has not abandoned public edcuation.  It should be interesting.

Meanwhile, my ailing Dell with Windows Vista is in the shop,  and hopefully will soon be back on line.  I probably should get a new computer.  6 years is probably considered ancient for a computer by the in-the-know computer aces.  I’m thinking about a MacAir.  I understand there is a learning curve when switching to a Mac, but learning new things is supposed to be good for seniors like me.