Last week, I allowed the dissenters to have their say on the columns I’ve written throughout 2012.
This week, I’m going to bask in the bouquets thrown my way by readers who were pleased at what they read.
Next week, assuming the Mayan calendar is off the mark, I will complete my annual trilogy with a cock-eyed look at what could happen in 2013.
Probably my best-received column was the one on the death of Andy Griffith and the recollection of the small-town culture he showcased. A reader from Gate City, Va., wrote: “How I wish my own children and grandchildren could have known how great it was to be able to play outside after dark or be able to walk to the corner candy store (we referred to it as the ‘newsstand’) and buy an Archie & Veronica comic book or a couple of packs of Kit Kats.”
“A lovely tribute to a beautiful guy,” wrote another, “and to a time that, for those of us who grew up in these little towns, was a time of peace and simple joys and moms calling their kids to come home as the sun went over the hill.”
Several applauded my column approving of the purchase of desserts with food stamps.
One wrote: “My father once told me that he never minded paying taxes, because his taxes were evidence that he was making money, which he considered a good thing. He also said he thought it right to give back, given how prosperous he’d been. We need more people with your and his mind sets.”
Another reader was more acerbic: “But surely you realize how much ideologues despise facts. For all I know, I’d feel the same way if the facts treated me so shabbily. Or perhaps not.”
In a region where the 2nd Amendment is placed on a par with the Ten Commandments, I found surprising support for my column about the danger of allowing armed citizens into theaters.
“Why is this country so devoted to guns?” one reader wondered. “I personally know of four gun incidents. ... There were two deaths, one wounding, and through great grace and good fortune my son escaped any harm despite firing his grandfather’s ‘unloaded’ .45 through the bed and into the oak floor.” Perhaps the Newtown, Conn., massacre of babes will moderate the national ardor for guns.
A Beaufort, S.C., reader, lamented that “it’s legally possible now in South Carolina and other states” to carry a concealed weapon in public.
“How do I know,” she asked, “which of the people who pass me on the sidewalk may be armed? There are no metal detectors at my grandson’s school. Which parent or grandparent who visits is armed?”
That email arrived well before the Connecticut massacre.
Another addressed assertions that an armed audience might have saved lives in the movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
“My lord, how the a------s jump to defend themselves when over a dozen people are lying in the morgues,” he wrote. “Someone like THEM coulda saved us!”
Several people wrote to express general agreement with my column on same-sex marriages, in which I suggested that government should leave it to religions to define marriage and that it should decide on the rights and benefits accorded joint households without reference to gender or sexual practices.
“What a sensible, reasonable essay you wrote for today’s Kingsport [Tenn.] Times-News,” wrote one reader. “You have stated my own feelings on the issue of gay marriage far more coherently than I could have. How sad that our politicians are making political hay about an issue that should certainly be left out of the political process. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of you and ashamed of them!”
“We agree with you,” wrote an Aiken, S.C., couple, “with our admiration and respect.”
Response was likewise positive to a rather tepid editorial I wrote as a high-school editor in 1954 supporting, in principle, the desegregation of public schools. Neither the community nor the school gave me grief over the editorial. But one reader took a lot of heat for his stand on racial tolerance. He wrote:
“Bravo! Hip-hip Hooray! For he’s a jolly good editorialist! ... Ten years after your comments, I was being almost literally run out of ... Warner Robins, Ga., for receiving into membership of the Lutheran church there, an Air Force sergeant and family, even baptizing one of their children. Worse, I had allowed him to attend a meeting of Sunday School teachers in Oglethorpe, Ga., from which I was indeed forced to take him and retreat.”
One Alabama ex-pat expressed happiness at finding me in his new hometown paper after bidding me goodbye in his old hometown.
“I did not want to move from Mobile, Ala., to Kingsport, Tenn.,” he wrote. “Nothing personal; I was just comfortable there. But the Wife got a great job offer, so here we are. I was glad, however, that you are here too.”
So am I. Kingsport and Mobile are both fine places to live, though Mobile no longer has a daily newspaper.
And speaking of Mobile, readers far removed from the Gulf Coast commented on my column lamenting the Mobile Press-Register’s shrinking from daily publication to three times a week and the elimination of many jobs.
“What a beautiful, heartfelt tribute!” wrote a reader from Up North. “It helps us all understand what we’re losing.”
After one of my columns in which I tried to add non-partisan historical perspective to the wild-and-wooly presidential race, I received this note:
“God bless you, Gene, whatever your political persuasion. I will print this and use it to teach history to all the youngsters I know.”
A columnist couldn’t ask for a better endorsement.
Readers may reach Gene Owens through email at WadesDixieco@AOL.com.
Gene Owens is a retired newspaper editor and columnist who graduated from Graniteville High School and now lives in Anderson.