Columnist: Wes Platt

Jul. 04, 2014 @ 05:43 PM

Looking ahead to a new beginning

Once, twice, three times – Father Stavroforos Mamaies dipped John Michael into the shiny silver font at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church before a sanctuary full of family and friends.
It’s fitting that we just baptized our son, symbolic as that is of new life and new beginnings.

Jun. 27, 2014 @ 05:17 PM

Not your run-of-the-mill horse derby

Rose Sandler wants to gallop in the footsteps of a conqueror.

Centuries before Pony Express riders thundered across the untamed American West, Genghis Khan established a long-distance postal system using horse messengers in the Mongol steppe.

Jun. 23, 2014 @ 01:11 PM

Finding strength in painful fragility

A baccarat crystal knob seems an unlikely nemesis.

But that changes when your hands are fused into permanent fists.
Megan Barron realized too late – about the time the stall door clicked shut – that she couldn’t manipulate the knob. She was in a fancy restaurant in Washington, D.C., with her father and brother. Her smartphone? Still at the table.
“Sometimes, you just have to crawl yourself under a stall door,” she said during an interview on Wednesday. “No harm, no foul.”

Jun. 13, 2014 @ 02:01 PM

The man’s always been there

The first time Mom introduced us to him, he likes to joke, “she claimed you were circus dwarves.”
Not too long after that, Tom Berger became stepfather to me and my brother, Don.
I don’t know if he was ready to be a father. I certainly wasn’t ready to be a stepson. 

Jun. 06, 2014 @ 07:01 PM

Hello Kitty? Hello, parental camaraderie


I was walking down Club Boulevard in front of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, pushing John Michael in the jogging stroller.

May. 30, 2014 @ 07:13 PM

Young hero has a way with words

I couldn’t blame it on a bad pass, wet turf, sloppy handling or referee incompetence.

No, back in the 1970s, my sport was spelling.

When I failed, I only had myself to blame.

May. 23, 2014 @ 05:46 PM

Greeking out in Durham

I haven’t started spritzing everything with Windex.

But I’m thinking about it.
It’s been a wild year since I took the unprecedented (in my life) step of getting baptized, joining the Greek Orthodox Church so that I could marry into a (very) Greek family.

May. 16, 2014 @ 05:27 PM

Remembering a man who wouldn’t quit

Michael Butts met his future wife in 2003 in the bookstore at Durham Technical Community College.

She needed a cassette recorder for a class in anatomy and physiology. She couldn’t find one.
The burly man – a formal football player at N.C. Central University who worked at the store even though it paid less than unemployment – asked if she needed help.
“I do not,” she said. “Thank you.”

May. 09, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

No third-wheel feeling this Mother’s Day

The kid loves his mom.

I think he finds me amusing when I’m not steering him clear of one disaster or another. I know he likes to go on afternoon strolls and clings to my neck when I carry him. He enjoys sneaking pens out of my shirt pocket. He’s fascinated by any remote controls I might have on hand.
But John Michael absolutely adores Catherine.

May. 02, 2014 @ 11:29 AM

Platt: Spending life looking up

Brian Johnson’s never been one to dwell long, if at all, on the negative.

He credits that to his mother, Gwendolyn, a retired nurse who still lives in Durham.
“She worked very hard to support my sister and I,” Johnson said. “She prayed a lot and read her Bible. She had a deep and abiding faith in humanity. I never once heard her complain about people and what they’d done to her.”

Apr. 25, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

Platt: Teaching kids that kindness is cool

Brothers Matt and Zach Certner, as children, started an organization to provide activities for kids faced with autism and other challenges.

That was good. But it wasn’t good enough for them.

Parents complained that their special children, although grateful for the safe space and inclusive environment provided through the Certners’ program, didn’t get that same experience in school.

Apr. 18, 2014 @ 04:33 PM

Platt: Not a lumberjack, and I’m OK

Well, what a relief.

This year, the job of newspaper reporter doesn’t rank all the way at the bottom of’s list of the top 200 jobs.
Instead, it’s apparently just almost the worst job, squeaking in ahead of lumberjack based on work environment, stress and hiring outlook.

Apr. 11, 2014 @ 02:48 PM

Separating fiction from reality

It’s probably for the best that I never plan to run for public office.
After all, I’ve pretended to be an affable talking bull with a penchant for smashing things on World of Warcraft.
I’ve portrayed a maniacal general, bent on declaring martial law on someone else’s sovereign planet.

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 05:13 PM

No more leaving things lying around

Back in the 1980s, I didn’t think twice about stashing my blue Jansport book bag under a bench outside the public library while I wandered around downtown Orlando.

Today, though, it’s a different world.

Mar. 28, 2014 @ 05:38 PM

The chance to live a history lesson

Even today, nearly 70 years since he joined the first wave of soldiers through the surf onto the German-fortified shores of Normandy, Charles Chappell remembers.