For some reason, my most vivid childhood memory of a back-to-school night is not my own school, but my sister’s. We were living in Augusta, Georgia, (the suburb of Martinez, to be specific) and she was starting junior high. It was the 1980s. I was still in elementary school. I can picture the evening. There were trailers, not just the main building. It was crowded. She got a souvenir light blue plastic mug. Maybe it was the mug. It was a cool mug. What has stayed with me is the feeling of newness – our family of four checking out a new school where my older sister would go. I don’t recall being upset she went to a different school. It was just different not being in the same school together anymore.
What does good leadership in times of crisis look like? We saw it late last week in Ferguson, Missouri, when Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol came into a contentious situation and the mood changed in no small way because of his leadership. What he did was walk with the people who were upset. He talked with them, not to them. He listened. He hugged. In short, he led.
It was everything I hoped it would be. Last week, I told you about the resurgence of the classic children’s game of dodgeball. The YMCA at American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham has been holding a summer dodgeball tournament in the Cage, that fenced in area near the parked train car in the center of the complex. Friday morning, I witnessed the glory that is hitting your colleagues with balls for fun.
When I was a kid, we took dodge ball seriously. We played in public schools, and we hit each other hard with those dodge balls. No remorse. You dodged, or you got hit.
Durham County Library’s sixth Reader of the Week is Can Wang. Can is 6 years old and attends Orange Charter School. Her favorite book is “Cinderella.” Can visits Southwest Regional Library. She also attended an arts camp this summer, where she drew a big beautiful tree.
As far as indoor entertainment venues go, the Durham Performing Arts Center is arguably the biggest draw in the Triangle, bringing both Broadway shows and big-name concerts to the stage since it opened in late 2007. Pollstar Magazine just rated it third on its list of national attendance at theaters. But that’s indoors.
When I first began reporting, I noticed that one of the first questions interview subjects would ask me was, “Where are you from?” It’s just a way to make small talk, to look for common ground. Most of the time.
When the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial was dedicated a few years ago, I covered the Durham angle by riding along on a Durham NAACP bus of people going to the ceremony. The group was amidst the hundreds of thousands at the ceremony, but didn’t see the memorial except from quite a distance.
Summer reading. It’s not just for kids. Sure, children are encouraged to keep up their literary skills when school’s out, and frequent visits to the library for programs, or reading books at home, are a great way to do that. But summer reading is also something adults do because it seems like we have more free time in the summer.
As sure as the stars and stripes, our nation’s Independence Day approaches and so it’s time for my annual column about being an American.
The turtle’s name is Pickles. The Durham turtle. You know the one. It’s only eight years old, but if you have a kid, or are a kid at heart, you’ve climbed on that turtle sculpture at Durham Central Park.
What is fatherhood?
Fatherhood is standing in public holding a miniature Dora the Explorer backpack and acting like it’s no big deal, because it isn’t. As a father, you hold your kids’ stuff, whether it’s Dora or princesses or Iron Man. And you play with them, too.
Last Saturday, I was at a baseball game at 10 a.m., and at a baseball game at 10 p.m. It was a great day.
In the morning, I sat in a folding chair under the hot sun watching my son’s T-ball team, named for a kind of shark, enjoy America’s pastime.
In the evening, my almost-done-with-kindergarten kid sat next to me at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Carolyn Hemingway. Antonio Dixon. Those who perished at Dachau during the Holocaust. Those that gave their lives for their country during war. Within less than two weeks, I covered four assignments that each had the same purpose – to remember those who were killed. One was a funeral. One was a national holiday. Two were vigils. Each of the four events were held on sunny days. Each of the four events remembered those who died not in peace, but by violence. Each of the four was emotional for those who were connected to those who died.
Back when I was a reporter in Southwestern Virginia, I covered the June 6, 2001, opening of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. I left my home in Blacksburg at dawn, driving through several towns on the way to a rather small town, especially for a national memorial. But it’s there because Bedford lost the most soldiers, per capita, of anywhere else in the country on D-Day.
The dedication was a long day and an exciting one. Thousands of people were there, including the president. It was an important story because it was part of a thousand stories of those who will never forget June 6, 1944, the day of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II.