Leila Case: ‘Thanks for the memories’

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Beth Alston, editor and publisher of this newspaper, has been my friend for many years. We met when she was working for radio station WDEC as news director and I was a reporter at the Americus Times-Recorder.
Then in 1985, Beth joined the T-R editorial staff and we became colleagues. A few years later, she was transferred to the T-R’s sister newspaper in Valdosta, where she was city editor. However, she returned to the Times-Recorder as managing editor in 1993, upon the retirement of Rudy Hayes, who had been associated with the paper for 41 years. He was a consummate newsman.
Anyway, all this to say Beth some months ago asked me to write a story for the paper’s Americus magazine about the long and illustrious, 138-year history of this newspaper and, of course, I jumped at the opportunity. However, faced with health challenges at the time the story was put aside until recently. I completed the assignment just this week and it is scheduled to appear in the upcoming issue of the quality magazine.
Gathering material for the story brought back a multitude of memories of the 23 years I worked there full-time. Today, I am happy to continue to contribute on a freelance basis with occasional feature stories and a weekly column.
During my tenure beginning in the fall of 1974, until the spring of 1997, it was a laugh a minute. Well, that’s not exactly true but overall it was a really happy experience. The paper was owned by the Blair family at the time and Billy Blair, former publisher, and Rudy, managing editor, hired me. It wasn’t until about a year later that Rudy told me they didn’t think I would last a month. Actually, I can understand. I appear pretty ditzy.
My job as staff writer took me many places, affording me countless opportunities and the chance to meet many interesting and not so interesting people and have a variety of experiences. Among my favorite beats were crime and the courts of law – why? How could a nice southern girl like me enjoy writing about crime and the courts? Exciting subjects. And politics, too. Oh my, the political scene was really awesome because I had the chance to write about Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign from the night in December 1974, at Atlanta’s Civic Center, when Carter announced he intended to run for the presidential office. I have enough stories from that era to fill a book but I don’t have the patience to write one.
Of course, slow news days were mixed with those that were action packed, almost more than could be handled by our small news staff.
I’ll confess that overall, my newspaper career spanned some of the best years of my life. Right up there with the years when the Barrett children were young and I was a stay-at-home mom.
Today, as a freelance writer, I’m working from home and grateful. But I can honestly say I miss walking through the front door of the Americus Times-Recorder on a daily basis and having the aroma of printer’s ink hit my nostrils.
Elsewhere, sing happy birthday to Bennett Vann, who is turning one year old. Bennett is the son of Brandon and Lauren Shivers Vann. And also sing happy birthday to Anne Barrett – we won’t tell her age. And extend congratulations to Jack and Frances Short who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary at a dinner party last Saturday at the Windsor Hotel’s Rosemary and Thyme. Their son, Steve Short, who organized the festive event, tells me balloons, an 11-by-14 framed wedding portrait and their wedding album were used to decorate the dining room. Jack and Frances (Anna Frances Spann) were married on Jan. 11, 1953, at Plains Baptist Church in Plains, the Spann family church. Both are longtime members of Hebron Baptist Church near Americus. Family members at the dinner were Harold and Peggy Israel; Beverly I. Johnson; Pat and Patsy Medlock; Jon and Patty Webb; Bo and Nancy Short; Anita Dillard; Melba Clements; Stephanie Young; Randy, Erica and Jake Short. To cap off a fantastic week, the Shorts’ names also were drawn on WISK radio as winners of a gift certificate to City Grill and a free oil change at Al’s Auto Care in Americus.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.