Newspaper tales of past mistakes and shared laughs

Published 3:00 am Saturday, November 26, 2016

One night in the not so long ago, several of us “newspaper gals” got together at a local restaurant to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” in the business. Most of us had worked together “spreading the news” at some point in time. Karen Herring, Lisa Linton, Debra Davis, Fran Sharp and me. That was the bunch of us.

As we dined on fatback and biscuits and tomato gravy, the conversation focused on all the good times we had and the not so good times, working until the wee hours of the morning and until we were all crossways with each other and had to take the next day off or we’d never speak to each other again.

Then, the conversation drifted to the mistakes we had made, individually and collectively, in the newspapers where we worked at the time. And there was no shortage of entries. We all had more than several for consideration.

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If laughter is the best medicine, we all got overdosed that night.

I did not win the ‘worst of the worst’ contest. It went to the writer who miscopied a telephone number and sent readers directly to a porn-site and the man who was featured in the article into hiding.

But thinking about the staff of the Bulldog Beat and their interest in and dedication to their student newspaper, reminded me of days when newspapers were  “laid out,” photos were developed in the darkroom, the press was churning in the back room and mistakes were inked forever.

My start in the newspaper business was with The Brundidge Banner. Copy was written on a TRS-80, a computer as big as a refrigerator/freezer combination. Typing errors that made the proof page were corrected by cutting out the mistakes and inserting the waxed-back corrections.

My mother was my greatest critic. She delightfully pointed out the errors of my ways. The Banner typist and I had worked extremely hard to make sure a wedding write-up was letter perfect. We knew the couple and their families and how pa’ticlar they were. There was not one mistake in the entire article that took up more than half a page. But, when the publisher saw the scope of the article, he said, “Cut it!”

I whined but to no avail. At least not until just before press time. He had changed his mind. “Put it back.” Hurriedly, I did. 

The next day Mama said, “You sure made a mess out of that wedding write-up.” What was she talking about? There were no mistakes. It was perfect. Letter perfect! “Just sounded strange to me,” Mama said. “It said the groom’s sister was a pair of matching trousers.”

“What?!” If there was one mistake there had to be two. In my haste, I had wrongly replaced lines. I grabbed the Banner and began to read. I could not have planned what had happened.

The article continued to read: the groom was dressed in a Dynasty tuxedo trimmed with tiny seed pearls and streamers of satin and lace.  Later that day as I sat dejected and fearful in the Banner office, I heard the hairdresser in the beauty shop next door asked, “What kind of wedding was that? Listen to what the groom was wearing…..”

That marriage did not last. I just hope that I had little or nothing to do with the breakup.