While working on painting the house nearly ten years ago and spreading out newspapers to catch the drips the headline of a column stood out. No matter how good you are with a brush or roller, there’s always going to be drips.
The column didn’t start off with a bang — “something something 10 years ago I visited my aunt” — but had an interesting headline “The haint that gave ‘Mumbles’ his name.” It was paint or check out the column ... you’ve likely already figured out what happened. Mike Ragland went on to talk about a bootlegger nicknamed Mumbles who’d told him a story about being in Korea during the war and ran 25 or so miles in the dark to take a communication to another unit.
Everybody here had worked with Mike in one way or another. He was a great resource during a recent Past Times edition about the 1960’s and if you ever met him — there were always lots of stories.
His words after the meeting with Mumbles are the best to describe your feelings after hearing some of those stories.
”As I drove back to the police department I wondered if I had just been had.
Has another old-timey, slick bootlegger just led me on another wild goose chase? Or was he just lonely and wanted somebody to talk with?
Couldn’t have been the truth, could it?”
But they were always fun, always interesting.
Through the years the Rome News-Tribune has told the stories of many, many people. On top of that we had many, many people who’ve influenced our voice and, even though they don’t work at the newspaper any longer, still influence what we do in one way or another.
Jim O’Hara filled the role of sports editor for many years and still does some local writing on the side; Bill Fortenberry, Mike Colombo, Dawn Tolbert and Jim Alred, slid over to the “dark side” of journalism AKA public relations, but we still consider them our friends; Chris Fincher, who took a more hands-on role going from police reporter to police officer; Joe Cook, who took his passion for the rivers and turned it into a profession; Ryan and Tricia Smith, who just had their first child and continue to produce some amazing photography; Kristina Wilder, who, after covering Young Romans for years went to work for them at Rome City Schools; Paul O’Mara, in whom the spark of journalism still burns bright; Clyde Collier, a person who lives and breathes for the visual image; Sara Tebo moved on to digital productions but we still remember her fondly; Charles Graves, who is full of great stories — including one about a Rome News-Tribune press pass and the Kennedy assassination; and John Druckenmiller, our former editor who carved out a place in local journalism and made Rome his home.
This isn’t everybody, and hopefully those who’ve worked with us over the — what seems like ages — will forgive any omissions. Please remember what putting out a daily newspaper does to your memory and attention span.
And on another note — thank you to the person who reminded us why we were happy to run several photo galleries and stories concerning Black History Month. The note, which was unsigned and on a nice piece of stationary, contained the person’s opinions about the month and how tired they were of seeing the articles and photos in the newspaper. In the end it was nicely wrapped up with an expletive.
It’s a shame some people are still so unwilling to see others enjoy their history, culture and achievements. Because when it comes down to it, as we move forward and find success together as people and as Americans, we all share in that success.