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A special first editor

Oftentimes, I remember my grandmothers. Both were very dear to my heart.

The memories linger with me, as though both of them still were alive. Unfortunately, neither of them are.

On June 21, one of my grandmothers, Maude Rachels, would have celebrated her 97th birthday.

When I think about Maude - the name I affectionately called her, while her other grandchildren simply called her Grandmama, I wish she still was around. She meant so much to me and so did my other grandmother, Alma Hobbs, who we in the family called, "Nanny" - my late Dad's mother. Both of them lived in neighboring Jefferson County - just 15 miles separating the two of them.

I truly was blessed to have had two wonderful grandmothers. I never knew my grandfathers, so the relationship I had with my grandmothers was made the more special for me.

Memories abound about both of them.

And talk about cook, boy, both of them were just great at it - especially those homemade biscuits they turned out. And the cakes they could make, bake and serve.

I enjoyed spending time with both of them, even after I became grown. I learned so much from both of them, including family trade-secrets on cooking.

When it came to cooking, the one thing I learned from both of them was not to be in a hurry. Take your time, be patient and enjoy the art of it and then, of course, eating!

Although I still have a fondness about cooking, there was another art form I took up and loved more. It was the art of writing.

After graduating from high school, I set my sights on becoming a newspaper reporter someday.

I remember both of them being so supportive and proud of me when my dream of becoming a reporter actually came true. I got so much encouragement from both of my grandmothers about my writings.

After hitching on as a correspondent with The Augusta Chronicle, I covered several counties in East Central Georgia - Jefferson being one of them. That was right up my alley, because I knew I would get a chance to drop By and see both of them.

I also knew I'd get something good that they either had cooked or would prepare - especially for me - the grandson they both loved so much. That love was a two-way street, I assure you!

As they would prepare such meals, as baked chicken breasts and their delicious homemade biscuits, I would be sitting in a chair or on the couch looking over notes about a government meeting I had covered. I was preparing to write my story and then use their telephones to make a collect call to The Chronicle. I then dictated the story to a reporter.

Magically, as I've always said, that news story would appear the next morning in the newspaper. It was amazing, simply amazing to me then and now, but especially now because of all the latest communication setups that we have such as cell phones and computer E-mail capabilities.

You would have had to be a reporter back in those days to fully understand.

On the occasions I covered the Jefferson County Board of Education in Louisville and later in the day Louisville City Council, I relished the idea of going there, because I knew I'd get a chance to see and eat lunch with Maude.

I was delighted and I think she was, too.

While she was preparing the meal for us, I was busy writing. Maude would go back and fourth from her tiny kitchen to the living room where I was working.

Often, I read aloud what I had written. And quickly, she would advise, "Now, make sure you don't misspell any words. Check the dictionary. Always look up the word, if you're not sure."

She even critiqued my sentence structure, sometimes.

"Now my honey," she would say, "there might be another way to say that a little better or clearer."

I used to kid her, saying, "You know, Maude, you could have been a great editor at a newspaper."

She loved news - anything from newspapers to watching the nightly news on television.

Over the years, I have looked back and remembered fondly the days and nights of sitting in her small, rented apartment and recalling the times when I was edited By a woman who never ever sat foot in a newsroom. Nanny liked watching the news, too. As far as me reading a story to her, she'd listen and always say, "That sounds good."

That was the extent of her editing skills - none. But I always appreciated her listening.

As I have told many people over the years, Maude turned out to be one of the best editors I ever had.



Web posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007













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