Twice this week on my morning commute I heard “Enter Sandman” on the radio, the Metallica song I would dislike if the intro wasn’t played at the start of Virginia Tech Hokies games to get the crowd jumping.
How do you bear it? With the tragedy in downtown Durham this past week with one loss of life, plus several at the Washington Navy Yard, and so many abroad, how do we bear it?
Picture it: Durham in 1944, during World War II. Soldiers in training at Camp Butner often came downtown, including a young man named Merle “Jack” Hammersley. You may have read my story in Saturday’s newspaper about him receiving his Bronze Star in a ceremony Friday. But there’s another great story, too -- a love story.
Like coffee and singing along to the radio, books are one of the joys of life. Maybe I should stitch that on a decorative pillow. Books are part of my features coverage here at the newspaper, and a joy of my job is the opportunity to share a good literary find with readers.
“Kindergarten?” the woman at the school entrance asked us. What gave it away? Two parents with two cameras (plus the phone camera) and a little boy grinning expectantly?
I’ve just gone through the rite of passage experienced by thousands of you and millions of Americans. My child started kindergarten.
In January, I interviewed illustrator Kadir Nelson about his new children’s book that pairs his beautiful paintings with an abridged version of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. After I wrote my story, I gave the book to my son, who is now 5.
If you’ve driven by Duke University lately, you’ve crawled your car through gravel on the wrong side of the road as work is being done on Duke University Road. I find this very interesting. The way rubberneckers look at car crashes, I look to see what the road crews are doing and what kind of equipment they’re using. Part is journalistic curiosity, most of it is being a parent and having a house full of toy versions of all those vehicles and action figures.
Gird yourself, I’m about to talk about race and injustice and history and civil rights. Do you know who George Stinney was? Lord have mercy on so many who were responsible for the South Carolina state-sanctioned killing of an African-American 14-year-old boy.
This summer I received two wedding invitations in the mail. One I will have already attended by the time you read this, of a former newspaper reporter who lives in a historic city. It should be a great time. The weekend may also entail an adventurous race through the streets like in “National Treasure,” and if that happens, I will relay it to you. Perhaps it will not. Either way, I will have a story to tell, in these pages or in the small talk we make to form common bonds with others.
Knowing what I know now, it’s a good thing youthful ignorance of the murky water in Georgia lakes did not keep me from swimming or water-skiing in them as a child. My dad is Mr. Safety, and we had those life jackets knotted tightly, let me tell you, before the motor boat engine was even started. I was in no danger of drowning (and of course had taken American Red Cross certified swimming lessons already). In the 1980s when I lived in Augusta, Ga., there was no flesh eating bacteria in the news. No sightings of alligators, unless you went to go see them at Okefenokee Swamp, which I did on a field trip. A bigger threat was all the insects.
I have a lot of stuff on my desk in the newsroom. All the work supplies like calendars, newspapers, papers, books, stapler, tape and my phone, spread out around my computer. Plus I have photographs, postcards, a trophy from winning the March Madness pool, a Happy Meal toy Gingy, a toy mail truck and even a box of rocks from the opening of the Smart Road at Virginia Tech. Propped up among my debris, er decorations, is my favorite thank you note from a story subject.
You can tell a lot about a community from the bus stops. How busy it is, how public transit is used versus private vehicles. How tired the people are who are waiting for the bus.
By now, you’ve likely heard about that T-shirt. The ill-timed “I’d rather be shot in Durham than die of boredom in Cary” T-shirt. Can you imagine anyone wearing such a shirt other than a Durham hipster walking down Foster Street?
Certainly not someone walking down Holloway Street.
Independence is a strong word. This coming week, we’ll celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, the day patriots declared that we had just about enough of the British and were doing things on our own from now on, thank you. Except, you know, it wasn’t that nicey nice, as the Declaration of Independence was signed during a bloody war.
“Man of Steel” is the big summer blockbuster, but I won’t be taking my kid to a movie that is about a superhero. That’s too bad, because he likes Superman and has already seen “Man of Steel” toys.