An ode to an ‘old friend’

Published 5:47 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Brundidge Excuse.

That’s what folks, including my daddy, called “The Brundidge Banner.”

So, when Sis and I were asked to “take over” the publication of the Brundidge newspaper back in the late 1980s, our response was “as long as we don’t have put our names in it.”

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But it didn’t take long to find out how important that newspaper was to the Brundidge community. Granted, it was not the New York Times but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was simply – and very simply – a community newspaper.

The most popular feature of the Banner was “The Quilting Ladies.” The ladies at the Hamilton Crossroads Church of Christ met each week to quilt – and to catch up on the news. They graciously agreed to write a social column for the Banner title “The Quilting Ladies.” They gathered their information around the quilting frame.

If for any reason, their column didn’t run on Wednesday, the phone would ring off the wall, “What happened to the Quilting Ladies?”

It was very important for people to know that Charlie and Chan Senn had eaten Sunday dinner with their grandmother or that Mr. Doster had a bout with the flu but was doing much better.

I was surprised to learn that Allyson Rodgers shared her gift subscription to The Brundidge Banner with all the girls in her dorm at the University of Alabama. They looked forward to reading what the Quilting Ladies had to say and had formed a kinship with all the folks in and around the Hamilton Crossroads/Tarentum/ Tennille communities and were interested in the goings-on in Brundidge.

That made Sis and me feel kind of proud, knowing that the Banner was being read at The Capstone of higher learning.

But the highest compliment paid to The Banner came from New York City.

One night I got home to find a section of the New York Times folded and stuck in the screen door. I scanned the paper to see what would be of interest to me. There was nothing familiar or nothing to which I could relate. There was an interesting article about the closing of The Lion’s Head” pub in Greenwich Village. But that had not relevance to me. I stuck the paper in a keeping place and forgot about it.

A week or so later, I ran into Ronald Godwin and he asked if I found the newspaper he left for me.

I did, but what?

The article about The Lion’s Head, Ronald said.

The Lion’s Head was a second home for writers, poets, politicians and musicians.

Ronald was living in Greenwich Village and subscribed to The Banner. Each week when the Banner arrived, he took it to The Head for the enjoyment of the artistic and intellectual.

No, they didn’t find the Banner an “excuse” for a newspaper, he said. They appreciated the Banner for what it was – a snapshot of a small, close-knit community that genuinely cared that a neighbor had gone to the doctor in Dothan or that Aunt Maude’s cat had kittens.

Just the other day, someone said to me that they still miss the Banner. “It was like we lost a good friend,” the man said.

And, we did.