Jamie Patterson Managing EditorThrowing around piles of clothes on the floor of my grandmother’s closet, I found the one thing that would forever change my destiny.
It wasn’t a pair of mile-high shoes that would transform me into a future movie star.
It wasn’t a vintage dress that could use a little altering to make me that potential fashion designer.
It was an antique, black typewriter.
My skinny fingers ran across the keys that had an almost imitation pearl finish. The coldness of its metal rubbed against my little hands.
I wiggled it out from Maw Maw’s closet into the middle of her bedroom. I am not sure if what was because I was a child or what, but that thing sure was heavy.
Grunting, I finally got it where I wanted it.
Amazingly, the typewriter still worked. I grabbed some of my mother’s paper that was left in a drawer and began to hit the keys for practice. Confused as to why the letters weren’t in alphabetical order, it took me a while to get the hang of it.
Before long, I was pounding keys, kicking rollers, popping levers and ripping off paper.
The next day I had the typewriter moved to an old student desk in my bedroom. That is where my destiny unfolded.
Grabbing a pile of construction paper and watercolors, I made a sign announcing my new business venture. It simply said “Press,” and I taped it on my door.
I took one of my Paw Paw’s old tin lunch boxes from when he worked at the paper mill and filled it with a cookie, a ham sandwich wrapped in wax paper and a thermos of Kool-Aid.
Carrying my lunch and grabbing an old briefcase I found, I strutted through the kitchen.
“Well, I am about to head to work,” I said, grabbing a biscuit.
“Where are you going,” Paw Paw asked.
“The paper,” I said, heading down the hallway. “I’m a reporter now.”
I closed the door to my room so I wouldn’t be disturbed. I grabbed a pink Barbie note pad. Sitting my lunch box and briefcase on my bookshelf next to my Mr. T piggy bank, I was ready to get to work.
I arranged my stuffed animals and baby dolls along the wall. I interviewed each one about anything from the sleeping arrangements at night to who should be allowed in the tub during bathtime to whether or not Barbie or Ken would make up from their big public fight. (Ken was caught talking with Rainbow Bright last week).
After my interviews, I sat at that old typewriter and put my stories together.
The writing was pretty simple: Ken talks to Rainbow Bright. Barbie is mad. Teddy has to go to doctor for missing eyeball. Army men try to invade dollhouse.
With such excitement, I would rip the final product out and head into the living room. Handing out the paper, my grandparents would read each piece of paper with interest.
My work was done. The home was informed of the daily activities from inside a child’s toy box.
I kept at it for about a month. Then I began to play with my cars more. Tea parties became more popular. And paper dolls were on sale at the local Piggly Wiggly.
But that typewriter sat on my desk until we moved from that old house. I am not sure where it ended up, but I will always remember it.
I smiled as I typed this column because I wasn’t sure about what to write about this week. Trying to figure out the lead to one of my stories, I typed: Barbie and Ken have it out again in the middle of Main Street.
I laughed to myself as a hit the delete button.
The times have changed for me. I have a computer now instead of an old typewriter. I have politicians, heroes, villains and other characters to chase down for a quote. And my work goes out to thousands of people instead of just my grandparents.
But the excitement of pounding those keys, rubbing black ink off my fingers, grabbing that notepad and making a paper is just as high as it was when I was a kid.
That is why I know I am where I am supposed to be. This is the job for me.
Norman Mott, former Herald owner and a man whose opinion I greatly admire, once told me “when you get that ink on your hands, you can’t wash it off.”
He was right.
It’s been there since I was a kid.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistAnyone who has ever experienced war can tell you that it is a terrible thing.
Take World War II, for example. The Russians lost 20 million of its citizens, and Joseph Stalin killed many more during his psychotic rein. Germany lost millions of its young men. America lost over 300,000 of it best and perhaps brightest. Many were highly intelligent young men. Perhaps one of them, had he lived, could have discovered the cure for cancer or could have figured out how to build a spaceship that could travel through space using some innovative futuristic technology. We will never know because this person is dead.
I had an uncle who fought in Korea. He experienced war in a way that no human being should experience. He, along with 160 American soldiers, was attacked by a large force of Chinese soldiers. My uncle said that the battle lasted for over 5 hours and soon, the Americans began running out of ammunition.
Resupply was impossible. Soon, the Chinese communist overran the American lines. All that escaped were 5 American soldiers who were able to hold the Chinese off with “grease guns,” small automatic weapons, that allowed them to retreat back to American lines and safety.
Physically, my uncle recovered, but mentally, he never fully got over this terrifying experience that almost cost him his life. He lost several friends that fateful day, and he told me that never a day went by when he did not think of them and sometimes cry.
Enter Democrat politics into this equation. The “get a vote at any cost” crowd is at it again. Last week, our distinguished and valiant Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, declared that women could now become combat soldiers.
Before the feminist attack me and label me a “male chauvinist pig living in the dark ages,” let me explain that I am the father of 2 daughters and have been married to the same “Miss Judy” for over 45 years. I admire and respect women.
If pure brainpower is the measure, they may be smarter than males. They are great teachers, doctors, lawyers, surgeons, researchers, airplane pilots, and most importantly, great mothers. I know that this may come as a shock to Panetta and the other “metro men” who dominate the Democrat Party today, but men and women are different. They have different roles in the human life cycle, and there is nothing that you and I can do about it. Nature has made this assignment. No amount of “social experimentation” will ever change this.
For political reasons, the Obama administration has made a deliberate decision to hide behind America’s women by claiming that women now have an “equal opportunity” to get their limbs blown off or worse, die on the battle field. What kind of man does it take to make this kind of decision?
When I was about 13 years old, my father gave me the “birds and bees” speech. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when out of the blue, dad said, “Son, always treat women with respect.”
That was it. Looking back over the years, those simple words had a profound effect on me and to this day have served me well.
Losing a son in war is bad enough, but losing a daughter is unimaginable to me. Sending women to the front lines to fight in a conflict that has been created by inept and corrupt politicians, regardless of their party affiliations, is beyond my ability to comprehend. Thank God that I was born in the South. No Southern man would ever make such a wrong-headed decision.
I am acutely aware that some wars are unavoidable, but remember this. If a nation becomes involved in a conflict, the purpose is to win. The unthinkable consequences that will be produced by this weak and reckless decision thrust upon us by this administration will come back to haunt Americans for as long as we remain a nation.
I have too much respect for America’s women to sacrifice them in an experiment that we already know will fail. Women do have an important role to play in America’s armed forces. Getting blown up on some distant battlefield, in my judgment, is not one of them.
If Obama and Panetta want to place women on the front lines, let them start with their own daughters. That would be a real commitment, one that I’m sure they won’t make.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorNow that deer season is over, maybe things can go back to being normal in the Patterson home.
Ever since November, things have been turned upside down as my husband Jason and our son James experienced their first hunting season together.
At five years old, James was allowed to go into the woods with his Daddy during the beloved “rut” and any other time to bag a deer.
But trust me, they left their mark the entire time.
Our house, that is usually very organized, was covered with a variety of hunting tools that I wasn’t allowed to touch. Now that the season is over, I can pack them away until another season.
The doe urine left on top of the microwave can be hidden back inside the drawer. The scent-hider-shampoo-goo can be removed from the shower caddy. The feathered urine “dragger” thing can hopefully be thrown away.
Hunting knives can be put on the top shelf. The skinning rack can be shoved into the storage shack. The antlers can be put away in the hopes that the chandelier, frame, or whatever other project Jason has in mind for them can one day be completed.
And my truck can be completely washed and detailed from loading, carrying and moving deer bodies around.
All jokes aside, hunting season really isn’t that bad for me. I actually enjoy seeing Jason getting that little skip in his step. And seeing James ready with his cap gun was kind of cute too.
Those two really enjoyed themselves this year. Being able to hunt together for the first time was truly a memory.
Complete with his toy gun and binoculars, James would walk side by side with Jason to hunt.
I know it truly was a bonding experience that Jason is looking forward to every year.
And I would be telling stories if I didn’t admit to enjoy my “girl time” while they were in the woods. Our daughter and Elsie and I had plenty of time were really able to bond while the boys were hunting.
Our mornings were filled with snack food, girl movies, hairstyles, baby dolls and cuddle sessions.
James calls it “chick stuff.”
But Elsie and I did show interest when the boys returned from their outings. If they bagged a deer, we took photographs of it. Elsie even tried to help clean one or two. And we all enjoy the fruits of their labor when we have smoked, grilled or fried deer meat to eat at supper.
The boys will hang their heads low as they pack away their hunting stuff. They will spend hours reading hunting magazines about what to expect next season. They will go outside and try to assemble that antler chandelier. And when the last package of deer meat is consumed, they might even shed a tear.
But don’t you go pitying the Patterson boys. They truly love to live off the land.
As soon as the deer stuff if put away, another season will begin.
I will have to dig rubber worms out of James’ pants before I throw them in the wash. Hooks will be found scattered along the kitchen counter. Poles will be sticking out of my back window of the truck. Rubber boots will be left on the porch. The old boat will be moved into my parking space. And the freezer will be stocked with anything that has gills.
Maybe when fishing season is over, things will go back to normal.
But judging by the little pink Cinderella fishing rod that recently appeared among the pile of gear in the corner, the boys might have a little company this year.
Walter Patterson Herald ColumnistIs it just me, but do you ever have the feeling that the world is spinning out of control? Every time I read the newspaper or listen to radio or watch a news program, I get the strange feeling that something is surreal about our present circumstances.
Over 8 million Americans are unemployed and can’t find work anywhere. I talked to a “Katrina victim” last week who had once been a TV producer. He is now a salesman. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. Honest work is still good, but this highly trained individual had been forced to change professions in order to survive. No one seems to be too upset about the lack of jobs.
Gas prices are averaging $3.24 per gallon now. When Obama came into office in 2009, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.84 per gallon. No one seems to be too upset about the price of gas. Like I said, it is all surreal to me.
A Harvard professor, Dr. George Church, is seeking an “adventurous” woman to give birth to a Neanderthal cloned baby. Dr. Church “believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.” Talk about Jurassic Park. Tell me that these crazy thoughts are not coursing through the brain of a normal, supposedly intelligent, fellow human being. Does this not seem a little surreal to you?
Do you remember Thomas Malthus? If you ever took a course in botany, you will remember that he is the man who did the experiments on peas in order to determine how we inherit our genes. I can still hear the teacher talking about the red pea blooms, the white blooms and the pink blooms. It was all pretty interesting to me until Malthus became a little surreal. He was worried that the earth could no longer support a large population of humans. He claimed, “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”
Enter that great thinker and profoundly misguided nut, Sir David Attenborough. “We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.”
Right on cue, Paul Ehrlick, the doomsday biologist, stepped to the plate. “Nobody, in my view, has the right to have 12 children or even 3 unless the second pregnancy is twins.” He went on to say, “Reducing the number of people is still the answer to civilizations woes.”
After reading this, I concluded that I had entered another dimension and nothing was real. But the coup de grass was yet to come.
Japan has a culture that has endured for literally thousands of years. Change was brought about after World War II, but yet the people had customs and traditions that they followed. One of their traditions was to honor the elderly. The elderly had lived long enough to gain some wisdom and this wisdom could be passed on to the younger generation.
Taro Aso, Japan’s Prime Minister has declared, “Let elderly people hurry and die. I would refuse end-of-life care and would feel bad knowing treatment was paid for by government.”
Don’t get upset. I’m sure it’s just me. There is probably nothing to worry about. My brain is probably not functioning at full capacity. It probably doesn’t matter that all of the people I have mentioned are liberals.
Perhaps I’m just having a “surreal” moment.
Jamie Patterson Managing EditorI knew something was wrong when I saw the look on his face as he made his way toward the car.
Our son James usually comes out of his school grinning from ear to ear. He eagerly tells me what letter he learned for the day or what fun game he played on the playground.
But today, he had a frown. He kept looking down, and I could tell something was on his mind.
“Momma,” he said, almost scared to look me in the eye. “I got put on red today.”
The children in James’ class have a system to monitor their behavior. Their names are placed on either green, yellow or red based on their actions.
Naturally, staying on green means you were well behaved for the day and didn’t get into any trouble. Yellow means you messed up a little, but you were warned. Red means you misbehaved and you could get sent to the office for a spanking if your offense was a major one.
So, the idea of landing on “red” really had James in a concerned mood.
“Well,” I said, leading him to the car. “What did you do to get on red?”
“I was playing in the cafeteria,” he said, looking down.
He even had a note from his teacher inside his book bag. He was telling the truth. He misbehaved in the cafeteria. He had been warned in the past about acting up at lunch, but this was the first time he was put on the dreaded “red.”
I gave him a lecture on the way to daycare. I told him I was disappointed because he had managed to stay on green for so long. This was his first time on red.
James kept looking out the window. He told me he tries to be good but sometimes the other kids “make him” be bad.
It took all I had not to laugh. I had to keep my stern appearance, but it was funny to think how another person can “make” you get crazy in the cafeteria.
I told him he wouldn’t be allowed to play his video game that night, and he would have to apologize to his teacher tomorrow.
A few hours passed, and it was time for my husband Jason to pick them up from daycare. I wasn’t feeling well so I told him I would just meet them at the house.
The idea of landing on “red” was still heavy on James’ mind because it was the first thing he mentioned to Jason.
“Where’s Momma,” James asked, looking into the car.
“She was sick so she is at home,” Jason said.
“Well, she has something to tell you, and you’re not going to want to hear it,” James sighed.
To his credit, James once again admitted to his offense.
I will give him a few points for being honest. I never told on myself when I was coming up. I wouldn’t necessarily lie about getting into trouble, but I sure didn’t admit to it.
I have had notes stapled to my shirt from my teacher. When I came home with a ripped sweater from snatching the note off...then I would admit to something. But only if I got caught.
James actually took his punishment like a man, admitted his wrongdoing and awaited his sentence.
The next day, he was still so concerned about “the incident.” He assured us he would work his way back to the green level, and he would apologize to his teacher.
I know there will be plenty of more days of landing on “red” left in James’ life. There will be more lectures, more punishments and more promises.
But I hope he will be as honest about it as he was yesterday. I have my doubts, but that’s part of being a parent. You never know what kids are going to say or do.
But if he comes home with a ripped sweater, it won’t be too hard to figure it out.