Making news in NYC

Published 6:58 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Finding a sack of tomatoes hanging on the doorknob, a dozen yard eggs behind the screen door or a mess of turnips in a sack on the steps is not unusual when you live in Mayberry.

But every now and then, someone leaves something rather puzzling at the door.

Some years back, a folded New York Times was stuck in the back door. At first glance, I found nothing that interested me. I scanned the newspaper and then sat down and read it article by article and was more than curious as to why anyone would leave it for me.

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In short time, I forgot about the newspaper.

It was several weeks later, maybe a month or two, when I bumped into Ronald Godwin in town. He asked if I found the newspaper he left sticking in the door.

What had I missed, I wanted to know.

The article about the closing of The Lion’s Head Tavern, Ronald said. He thought I would be interested.

Why in heaven’s name did he think that I would be interested in a tavern in New York City? I’d never been to The Lion’s Head and never even heard of it.

Ronald explained that, for 30 years, The Lion’s Head Tavern in Greenwich Village was the city premier watering hole for editors, reporters, columnists and photographers from the city’s mainstream newspapers – The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The New York Herald Tribune, New York Times, Newsday and the Voice.

“Those who frequented The Lion’s Head included the famous names from the worlds of literature, politics, music and art,” Ronald said.

I stood waiting.

“And, why would I be interested in any of that?”

Simply put, they, all of those great wordsmiths, read “The Brundidge Banner,” our little eight-page, down-home newspaper.

I felt the blood creeping up into my face. Sis and I were the nameless editors of “The Banner,” the newspaper that Daddy called “The Brundidge Excuse.”

Just the thought of the Banner being passed among the literati made me wish a hole would open up and swallow me whole.

But, no, Ronald said they didn’t read “The Banner” in a condescending way.

He told how those literary minds would cluster around him when he entered the Tavern with a folded “Banner” under his arm. He told how they were all eager to hear who had been to the doctor that week but is feeling much better now, whose sister was visiting from over in Georgia and that Charlie and Chan had Sunday dinner with their grandmother. He told how they looked forward to the society news from “The Quilting Ladies” who shared local news, recipes and a bit of gossip every now and then.

“They loved to read the stories about local folks,” he said. “They found ‘The Banner’ refreshing. They loved its small town, personal flavor. And, I think they all wished they could be a part of a town like that. Deep down, that’s what most of us want.”

Well, then. Ronald was right in thinking that I would be interested to know about the closing of a famous tavern in New York City where some of the brightest minds in the business had read and appreciated “The Banner.”

I thought about that the other day as I stood in Ronald’s Sculpture Park next to the carwash and across the street from the Piggly Wiggly. I couldn’t help but smile, thinking that this little park would probably be right up the alley of those great literary minds.

And, oh man, how I wish they could have seen John Paul Boswell’s 30-pound cabbage!

Jaine Treadwell is features editor.