Fifty-two Wednesdays hath 2018.
Of these, I managed to retain evidence of just 37.
Why Wednesday, you ask?
Because, dear reader, despite the inconsistencies of the U.S. Postal Service, this paper comes out every Wednesday. And I know my loyal readers wait with bated breath, eagerly watching their mailboxes and driveways for the weekly paper.
We get it at our house, and each week between my wife Lori and myself, we put it aside for archiving, which is less a science and more throwing newspapers into a cardboard box in a closet. Lori leaves the paper on the desk of my home office or on the kitchen counter in a pile of bills and whatnot requiring my attention. When they start to pile up, I toss them in the box, which I’ve been doing since January 2011.
It’s a big box.
I realize this is not a secure location for such important historical records, and I beg our children for forgiveness now and grant them permission to toss the entire mess in the recycling bin when we are dead and gone. I can’t bring myself to do it.
However, out of the 50 columns I have written over the last 11 and a half months, 15 never made it to the heap. (Last week’s column was No. 51, and this one will be No. 52. I am always working two weeks ahead.)
This is the only time of year I look through the pile of pulp. I go back and select a few of my favorites from the year, a filler column when the time is at a premium. With all apologies to the missing 15, which I am sure are all Pulitzer-worthy — here are a few I enjoyed.
In 2017, protesters marched into Piedmont Park and tried to destroy a monument at the 14th Street entrance. Erected by the Old Guard of the Gate City Guard, the Peace Monument depicts an angel over a Confederate soldier laying down his rifle at the end of the Civil War. This sparked a public debate about Confederate monuments in our community.
In January, I wrote about another Old Guard monument, this one in Buckhead at Peachtree Battle Avenue and Peachtree Road remembering the Battle of Peachtree Creek. It was, and is, my opinion the monument should remain, as it allows us to tell future generations about what happened around that hallowed ground on July 19 and 20, 1864. Alas, a city panel elected to have it removed. But it’s still there, however temporarily.
I wrote several columns about the area surrounding Fort Peachtree and the native Creek village, Standing Peachtree. In my research, I came across a passage that reminded me of my childhood, running through the woods and playing in the creeks and streams around Buckhead.
“Waters in the creeks and rivers as clear as crystal; rich valleys, hills and mountains covered with a thick forest; a land of beautiful flowers — white, pink, yellow and red honeysuckles, redwood and dogwood blossoms, wild roses and others. The ground was covered with violets, sweet Williams and other beauties.”
This was written by William Jasper Cotter around 1830, and it reminded me of why people settled here in the first place.
Finally, the good folks at the Atlanta Speech School asked my friend James Ottley and me to give a brief talk about Atlanta history. The only problem was I didn’t know anything about that school except that my middle brother had gone there. I went to the Atlanta History Center’s Keenan Research Center in Buckhead and pulled four or five boxes of files about the school.
I came across the story of one of the first students, a poor teenager with a cleft pallet, who walked by himself 15 miles on June 6, 1938, and enrolled at the school. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t afford it. The school’s founder, Kitty Hamm, made sure the school assisted those who needed it regardless of their ability to pay.
There were a few other columns that bear repeating, but I am eternally running out of space.
And maybe I’ll hunt down those missing papers and add them to the unorganized pile, but frankly, I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I have been working on a book of these columns for a year now, and organizing them has proven a unique and time-consuming challenge. Everything is online now anyway.
So for now, I’ll just add this one to the box, and I hope to add many more in the coming years.
Happy New Year all!