Rison-Dallas Association, Inc.

Rison-Dallas Association 2007 Reunion, August 4

(Click Here for the 2007 Reunion Photo Gallery)

It was another wonderful gathering of some great people.  You could feel the excitement from the time folks entered the building until they left several hours later. How very special this time is for us all. My hope is that every person there had a great time and eagerly looks forward to returning again next year.

Each year one thinks that this must be the best of all reunions but I think the feeling comes from our joy at being together.  How fortunate we are that Jackson Way Baptist Church continues to open their doors to us, giving us the needed time and space to celebrate.  (On our Notes from Friends page, please see the message from the church’s pastor, Garry Jordan.)

We know that there were at least 15 people who attended this year’s reunion for the first time and there could have been more; there were also those there who had not been in a long time.  Once again, we had several young people, at least one teenager, young adults, middle-aged folks, and the older adults.  It was a pretty good mix and we all seemed to be having a good time.  Well, when I asked the one teenager I met if she was having a good time, she only grinned; ‘guess that she didn’t want to hurt her grandmother’s feelings!

Please put next year’s reunion on your calendar: it’ll be on Saturday, August 2, 2008.

CLICK HERE to see who attended this year’s reunion. As usual, we tried very hard to get everyone registered but we could have missed some of you. If you were there and your name is not on this list, please let us know at risondallas@comcast.net.

We receive positive comments about how efficiently the reunion runs - well it’s because so many of our folks work hard to make it that way.  Here are the names of people who worked either or both in preparation for the reunion and also on the day of the reunion:

Helen Acuff

Victor Acuff

Brenda Burkett Elders

Buddy Elders

Buddy Curry

Leo Drake

Aileen McGinness Elledge

Ann Schrimsher Franklin

Paula Franklin

Virginia Goosby Franklin

Betty Franklin Frasier

Thurman Frasier

Dorothy Gates Maples

Glenn Hymer

Sally Certain Hymer

Sara Knowles

Donald Martin

Herman McKenzie

Trey Parks

Mildred Magness Paseur

Marjorie Ruth Cullom Snell

Billy Starr

Betty Burkett Stephens

Calvin Surrett

Maurine Hayes Alverson Surrett

Geraldine McGinnis Walker

John Williams


In response to our list asking for volunteers to work with the reunion, we received two names. If you’d like to help the reunion committee in some way, please let us know at risondallas@comcast.net.

Last year we thought that we had more food than ever but, according to a couple of the kitchen folks, there was more this year, so much in fact that all of the food could not be put out at the same time!  What a nice problem that was.



During the program part of the reunion:

I reminded the folks that they should feel free to move about to stretch their legs but asked that they please stay for the program.

  • Twenty-nine of our folks died since the 2006 reunion. Our vice-president, Helen Acuff, read the names of each person. Please let us know at risondallas@comcast.net if other names should have been on the list.

       Many of us remember some of these from our number and, while their loss is painful, we are thankful that they came our way.

      Those names are:

Irma Thompson Anderson

James Harvel Carroll

Annie Dunham Corder

Cleo Baucom Davis

Parker Denton

Minnie Lee Brown Elders

Wade Elldege

Katherine Green Fanning

Joe W. Finley

Charles Gaut, Jr.

Birdie Helen Fitch Goodman

James Hatfield

Lee Roy Hoekenschnieder

Harley Rand Hope

James Thomas Kennemer

Johnnie Cooper Lewis

James Alvin McBride

Marilyn Gates McCulley

Charles McNeal

Mattie Anita Gray Murphree

Charles Milton Roden

Vernie Earlene Roden

Clifton Saxon

Luther “L.C.” Staggs

Keith Stoffle

Lucy Maureen Walker Tucker

Elizabeth Wilson Wilkinson

Edith Blair Windham

William “Bill” M. Wood  

  • We asked that our veterans stand if they were able. While standing, we thanked the veterans for their contributions to our country and I commented that “harm’s way” is everywhere now, even in the United States . Buddy Curry led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, after which we sang, “God Bless America .”
  • Please CLICK HERE to read my introduction of our guest speaker, the Sports Editor of The Huntsville Times, John Pruett, and his interesting speech.
  • In addition to John Pruett, other guests included Huntsville City Mayor Loretta Spencer and Doug Martinson, II, President of Huntsville City School Board. (See Mayor Spencer’s announcement about the Dallas Mills water tank/tower, as well as information from School Board President Martinson about Lee High School.) Alabama State Senator Parker Griffith also stopped by to visit.
  • Buddy Curry, representing the Class of 1947, who sponsored this reunion in celebration of their 60th anniversary, acknowledged class members in attendance. Please CLICK HERE to see the picture of the Class of 1947 on the Classes page of our website.

         Sadly, the following six members of this class are deceased:


Margaret Campbell

Werden Hurd

L.C. Keel

Melvin Neal

Eugene Potts

Elizabeth Wilson Wilkerson

  • Zollie “Buddy” Curry introduced our Honored Guest and had this to say:

“At the Rison-Dallas annual reunion in August 2007, the graduating class of 1947 decided to honor one of our teachers, Mrs. Eleanor Simmons Kerns, at our 60th   anniversary on August 4, 2007. I was given the honor of contacting Mrs. Kerns. I was a little apprehensive when I made the call because I did not know if Mrs. Kerns was still living. However, I called the number that I had for her and she answered the phone.


            The picture of Mrs. Kerns (on the right) was taken with Mrs. Watkins (a home economics teacher). This picture was made when both of them attended a Rison-Dallas reunion a number of years ago. Mrs. Kerns said Mrs. Watkins was one of her best friends and remained so until Mrs. Watkins’ death a few years ago.  

The conversation I had with Mrs. Kerns was a very pleasant experience. She expressed her deep appreciation to us for wanting to honor her. Mrs. Kerns informed me that some of the best years of her life were spent at Rison School . She said that Mr. Fain told her when he hired her that all she had to do was tell the students what she wanted them to do and they would do it. She said that Rison School had the most talented students she had ever encountered.  

Mrs. Kerns apologized that she would not make it to the reunion because of her health.   She said she would soon be 90 years old. However, while I talked with her she sounded almost the same as I remembered.                       

            One of the former students at Rison, Dot Reese Creel, told us at this year’s reunion that Mrs. Kerns had given her a Bible and Dot had used that Bible in her wedding.


            There were many cherished memories about Mrs. Kerns expressed at the reunion.


            Classmates remembered Mrs. Kerns playing the piano and teaching music. Former students of Rison have fond memories of all teachers and Mrs. Kerns was special.”


  • Buddy Curry also recognized guests and former teachers. In addition to John Pruett, another guest included Huntsville City Mayor Loretta Spencer (see Mayor Spencer’s announcement about the Dallas Mills water tank). Our teachers in attendance were Buddy Curry, Joy Fanning Daniel, Bill Rice, Hazel Turney Ward, and Wanda Renegar Wilson.
  • We recognized the Rison graduates from classes 1934 thru 1951, as well as graduates of Butler , Lee, Huntsville , and other high schools.
  • We thanked the class of 1947 for sponsoring this year’s reunion and challenged the Class of 1948 to sponsor next year’s reunion; Frank Stephens of that class accepted the challenge.


Association Business:

Sitting and door prizes:  I told the folks that I know that it’s hard for many of us to sit for an extended period of time, and suggested that if they needed to get up and move around, please do so. I told them that hope that they’d be able to stay for the whole program and that you must be present to be eligible for door prizes.

Treasurer’s report: Our Treasurer, Maurine Alverson Surrett, reported a balance of $3,360.30; this balance neither included this year’s reunion expenses nor contributions given at the reunion. Most of the money in our treasury came from profit from the sale of the cookbooks. We may want to consider using the cookbook profit for worthwhile projects. If you have suggestions as to ways in which the money could be used, please let us know at risondallas@comcast.net.

Website: As of the day of this reunion, there had been some 14,200 hits on our website. Craig Clontz continues to volunteer to serve as our webmaster.  Although Craig was not in attendance, we applauded his great work. As we have in the past, the Association presented Craig with a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant, and also made a donation to his church, Trinity United Methodist, in his honor.  On the Notes from Friends page of our website you can read Craig’s appreciation note for the gift and honor.

Election of Vice-President and a Secretary: (Prior to eating lunch, the President reminded the group that a Vice-Presidential nominee would be presented from the nominating committee at a later time. Further, that nominations would also be accepted from the floor provided that the nominees had agreed to serve.)

As Chairperson of the Nominating Committee, Bessie Certain Moss presented the committee’s nomination for the vice-president position, Brenda Burkett Elders, who was unanimously elected. Because the committee was not successful in having someone willing to accept the nomination as secretary, and because Brenda has the needed computer skills to assist with secretarial duties, the decision was made to not pursue the secretarial position. We'll be in good hands with Helen Acuff as our president and Brenda as our vice-president!

Our new official name: At the suggestion of Doug Martinson, Sr., who did all the legal work to make it happen, we are now officially the Rison-Dallas Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization.  On our behalf, our Buddy Elders will file an application that will hopefully put us in a tax exempt status. Doug explained it to me by saying, “I could donate $500 to the association and you would not have to pay taxes on it.”  I told him to feel free to do that any time he wishes!  One thing that I forgot to tell you at the reunion is that we also have our own seal!! Can you imagine our little organization having its own seal? I asked Doug when and how we could use the seal and his answer was, “Any way you want to.”

Doug donates his time and effort; he charges only for fees outside his office.  We continue to be indebted to him.


Cookbook: Sale of the cookbook was a complete success; we sold all 500 copies within 42 days. After that time, the cookbook committee met to consider the possibility of printing additional copies; however, it was decided that there was not sufficient interest at that time to justify a second printing.

Honor Flights to the WWII Veterans Memorial: The Association donated $100 to these flights.  Thurman Frasier has been notified that he will be on the September flight to the Veterans Memorial in Washington DC .  We’ve learned that J.T. Gore, who was invited to go, will not go because he said that he was privileged to attend the memorial’s original dedication service.

Restoring the Dallas Mill Water Tank/Tower: At the reunion, Mayor Loretta Spencer announced that the water tank/tower is expected to be refurbished; in a subsequent council meeting, approval was granted and the work will be completed. The plan is that our side of the tank will show, “Dallas Mills – 1892 – 1949;” the other side of the tank will show, “Lincoln Mill – (and the appropriate dates). Huntsville Utilities, in charge of the restoration, said that while the tank won’t be immediately used, it could be used if and when growth occurs as the result of  widening nearby Meridian Street.

CDs of pictures from our website: Our thanks to our Glenn Hymer who donated 30 CDs that he made of pictures from our website.  Sally Hymer had these CDs on a table in the fellowship hall for anyone who wished to have one; a donation was requested.  Eighteen of the CDs were sold. If you’d like a copy, let us know at risondallas@comcast.net. The CD would be a wonderful keepsake.

Door Prizes: The following merchants and individuals were kind enough to provide the door prizes. Leo Drake helped me solicit the prizes. If you wonder why other merchants in the Rison-Dallas area didn’t donate, it’s because they weren’t asked – I became too timid to ask anyone else!

Bill King’s grandson, Trey Parks, drew the tickets for me and I called out the numbers. Here is a list of the prizes and the winners:


Donated By


24”x27” Water Color Painting Boating Scene, $250 value


Betty Franklin Frasier

Cindi Hines

$100 series EE savings bond


Regions Bank

Jim Wood

One haircut/styling & one European facial, $100 value



Hattie Hester

Body Massage, $70 value

Orthopedic Massage Associates


Teresa Hunt Lasseter

Five haircut or styling certificates; Up to $13 each, $65 value

Jackson Way Styling Salon

Martha Dodson
Bill Allen
Hugh Mitchell
Doris Roden
Mickey Campbell

Two $20 food certificates, $40 value



Geneva Robison
Frank Stephens

Six Thickburger coupons ($3.29 each), $19.74 value


Beanie Falkenberry
Faye Jones
Buddy Burkett
Johnny Todd
Bill Schrimsher
Dot Gwathney

Book, “Hack,” $18.95 value, autographed on site


Bill King

Thurman Frasier

One food certificate, $10 value



Mickey Falkenberry


Things that I failed to mention at the reunion:  

Kitchen workers: My plan was to recognize the efforts of two of our long-time kitchen workers: Leron Allen Schrimsher and Loretta Chisholm Patterson; Leron worked 33 consecutive years and Loretta worked 34 consecutive years. It was impressive to see them at work each year - they walked into the kitchen, immediately took charge and arranged the food when, at times, there was so much food that the task seemed almost impossible. Our sincere thanks to you girls and it is our hope that one day you’ll be back in the kitchen!

Building a new Lee High School : Both from reading The Huntsville Times and talking with our City School Board President, Doug Martinson, II, I learned:

  • The school will be built on the old Woody Drive-In Theater property that will also include property that borders Meridian Street and Quietdale Drive .
  • School entrance will be on Meridian Street .
  • An enclosed pedestrian bridge will be built approximately 23 feet over the railroad track to enable the students to walk to and from the new school campus to the gym and athletic fields at the old school campus.
  • Work will begin this Fall, for completion in 2009.
  • The campus will cover more than 51 acres, making it the 2d largest high school in the city, with Columbia being the largest at 56 acres.
  • Students will continue to use the old Lee building until completion of the new building.
  • Once the new Lee is occupied, the old school will be demolished making way for athletic fields and parking.
  • Existing ball fields will remain.
  • Tentative plans are to keep the existing gym.

Singing the reunion song and the benediction: Once I called the last number for a door prize, I think that I said something to the effect, “We’re finished!” I apologize for the omission.

Please join us again on August 2nd next year, 2008, same time; same place.

May the good Lord bless and keep you!  



August 4, 2007  

Is your name on this list?  Were you at the reunion on August 4th and failed to register?  If so, please let us know at our email address: risondallas@comcast.net and give us your name and also your address and phone number.  Also, if there’s been a change in your address and/or telephone number, we’d like to know that too.  

Helen Acuff

Victor Acuff

Agnes Adcock

Bill & Alline Frasier Allen

Bobby Alverson

Carolyn Anderson

Marie Schrimsher Arnett

Jan Ealy Bannister

Jo Ann Becht

Katie Bender

Sherry Robison Bibby

Gail Dodson Birdsong

Thomas Blount

Bobby Burke

Buddy Burkett

Kenneth & Janie Burkett

Eunice McNeal Campbell

George Campbell

Mickey Campbell

Buddy Cantrell

Ralph Cantrell

Frances (Mrs. Buel) Case

Bessie Certain

Sam & Lera Chisam

Sue Smith Clark

Billy Joe Cooley

Amos & Dorothy Reese Creel

Annie Finley Crowl

Bill Cullom

Zollie “Buddy” Curry

Joy Fanning Daniel

Ed & Martha Green Dodson

Leo Drake

Bill (Buddy) & Brenda Burkett Elders

Juanita & Bobby Elders

Aileen McGinness Elledge

Gene Falkenberry

Mickey Falkenberry

Corrine Fanning

Ann Schrimsher Franklin

Paula Franklin

Virginia Goosby Franklin

Thurman & Betty Franklin Frasier

Donald H. Gentry

Julian T. Gore

AL Senator Parker Griffith

Dot Moore Gwathney

Roger Hansen

Warren & Geneva Neal Harper

Andrew Harris

Lillian (Sis) Adcock Hawkins

Patti Hester

Cyndi Majors Himes

John David Honey

Anne Guerin Hooper

Judee Howard Houston

Crawford Howard

Wilbia Lee Starr Howard

Albert Hudgins

Edwin & Joyce Counts Hunt

Herman Hunt

Norma Hutto

Glenn & Sara Ann Certain Hymer

Bill & Josie Ivey

Elizabeth Primm Johnson

Faye & David Jones

Larry C. Keel

Bill King

Helen Ruth Case King

Suzanne King

Jerry & Sarah B. Knowles

Sue Acuff Koster

Teresa Hunt Lasseter

Brenda Schrimsher Letson

Curtis Lovvorn

Robert O. Luna

Martha Luna Maddox

Frankie Widner Magness

Pat King Malmay

Dot Gates Maples

Donald Martin

Marguerite Fanning Martin

Doug Martinson

Herman & Margaret McKenzie

Phyllis Robison Neal

Joe Medlen

Carl & Linda Melton

Hugh L. & Linda Mitchell

Charles & Peggie Baucom Moore

Melvin Murphree

Mary Beckham Neely

James & Louise Adcock Newby

Betty Daily Owens

Ben & Opal Payne Parker

Susan Parks & Trey

Anna Parvin

Mildred Magness Paseur

Brad Patterson

Greg Patterson

Loretta Patterson

Hettie Jean Cates Patton

Erk Payne

Barbie Patterson Peek

Otis & Erlene Perry

Michael & Phyllis Pinion

Bob Potts

Trena Powers

John Pruett

Frances Lusk Putman

Jimmy Quick

Lois Allen Raney

Bill & Lorene Bishop Rice

Liz Payne Ricketts

Diane Hawkins Ridgeway

Nancy Majors Roberson

Geneva Fitch Robison

Doris Jean Cagle Roden

Donald & Maureen S. Roden

Mary Meeler

Tommy & Charlene Rutledge

Billy Ray Schrimsher

Thomas Seaton

Carolyn Green Sharp


Janis Smith

Marjorie Ruth Cullom Snell

Mayor Loretta Spencer

Billy Starr

Frank & Betty Burkett Stephens

Clifton Stewart

Rudolph V. Strickland

Louise Rousseau Sulcer

Calvin & Maurine Hayes Alverson Surrett

Juanez Jones Tanner

Carol Tolbert

Kay & Donny Todd

Charles & Hazel Turner

LeBarbara & Aubrey (Tode) Turner

Robert, Winona & Robby Turner

Betty Jo Walker

Geraldine McGinnis Walker

Hazel Turney Ward

Ken Ward

Melvin Ward

Billie & Dickey Wilbourn

Don Wilkerson

John & Montez Williams

Maurice Williams

Reek & Wanda Renegar Wilson

Jim & Betty Moore Wood


Introduction of John Pruett:


Many years ago, a young man always knew that one day he would be a sports writer.  He graduated from Auburn High School , went on to graduate from Auburn University in 1963 with a degree in English-Journalism.  He then graduated from the University of GA in 1964 with a master’s degree in journalism after which he immediately began a year and a half job as a sports editor at the Huntsville News.  In 1966 he became a sports staff writer for The Huntsville Times and, in 1974 he became Sports Editor for The Times, a job that he continues to hold today.  

John is a veteran, having served as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve for 21 years; he retired as a Master Sergeant.  

His hobbies are reading, gardening, playing with grandkids and, until he couldn’t break 90 any more, golf was also a hobby.  

John plans to retire in March of next year.  

Most of us here either know or are familiar with our guest speaker.  We’ve followed sports of all kinds through reading his columns; he’s become something of a fixture in Huntsville – a well-respected fixture.  It is my great pleasure to introduce you to John Pruett, that young man who realized his dream of becoming a sports writer and ended up being more than that – a sports editor.  JOHN PRUETT.


John’s Speech:

John Pruett speaking at the Rison-Dallas Reunion, August 4, 2007
John Pruett Speaking at the Rison-Dallas Reunion, August 4, 2007



     Aug. 4, 2007

-John Pruett, The Huntsville Times

I've been asked to tell you about my journalism career and touch on a few of the many changes we've all seen in the newspaper business over the past 40 years or so.

I also thought I might mention a few of the memorable sports personalities I've interviewed and written about over the years ... and I'll be happy to answer questions at the end, if you have any.


I was born down in Cullman County , the only child of two career educators.

My father was the principal of Cullman High School and my mother was an elementary school teacher in Cullman when he was offered a job on the faculty at Auburn in 1951. I was 9 years old at the time.

Both my parents were committed, difference-making school teachers.

My father, I'm proud to say, was one of the pioneers in the field of adult education in the state of Alabama . In addition to being a professor in the Agricultural Education Department at Auburn , he used to travel frequently all over the state, all the way from Madison County in the north to the Gulf Coast in the south, organizing and teaching adult education classes and serving as a year-around advisor. Even today, after all the years, I'll run into people from time to time who tell me: "Your father was the most influential person in my life." Not just the most influential teacher; the most influential person.

My mother, who taught fifth grade in various schools for more than 30 years, was an elementary school principal when she retired. She was once named one of Alabama 's Schoolteachers of the Year by the Birmingham Post-Herald.

I count my blessings every day for the way they raised me, for the values they taught and the example they set.

I went to high school and college in Auburn , graduating from high school in 1959 and from Auburn University in 1963. I then went to the University of Georgia for a Masters degree in Journalism, thinking I might go into teaching, which is what my parents were hoping for.

But I never really felt I had that special "right stuff" to become a school teacher. And besides, I had something else in mind.

In January of 1965, a couple of weeks after graduating from Georgia , I drove up to Huntsville to interview for a technical writing job at Brown Engineering. I think I might've been hired as a tech writer, but something else that appealed to me more came up about the same time.

While I was in Huntsville , I decided to stop by the two newspapers in town to see if they had any openings ­especially in Sports.


As a kid growing up, I played a lot of baseball, first in Little League and later in Babe Ruth League and American Legion, and I also played basketball in both junior high school. I loved sports and I also loved reading about sports in the newspapers.

There was a time when I could recite the starting lineup of every team in the major leagues. Of course, there were only eight in each league back in those days - and all of them were east of the Mississippi .

My father used to bring home three or four different newspapers every day, and I grew up writing such sports writers as Zipp Newman and Benny Marshall and Alf Van Hoose of the Birmingham News, Bill Lumpkin of the Post-Herald, Max Mosley and Sam Adams from Montgomery, and Furman Bisher and Jesse Outlar from Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I thought to myself in those days: "What a great life that would be, going to all those ballgames and actually getting paid for it."

I guess that's what was in my mind when I visited the Huntsville newspapers that day to see if they had any

openings. The Times didn't. Then I went by the small morning paper, The Huntsville News, and talked to the editor, Dave Langford, a terrific newspaperman, a Mississippi State graduate, who later went to Miami and then on to a long career with UPI.

He called me about a week later and said, "We have an opening for sports editor. When can you start?" I said, "How about tomorrow?"

I remember thinking: "Wow, my first job and already I'm going to be a sports editor at a daily newspaper ...

What I didn't know was, not only was I the sports editor, I was the entire sports department. The News only had about five writers, and I wound up doing sports, spot news, an occasional obituary, and one night I even helped Horace Moore run the press when of the two pressmen got sick. All this for a starting salary of $100 a week.

But it was a wonderful experience. I figured I'd work a year or two, have some fun, then go out and get a real job.


It was a really exciting time to come to Huntsville .

The Arsenal was booming. The space program was in full swing. They were testing those huge Saturn engines all the time, and you could hear the rumble and feel the ground shake all over town. It was 1965, and we were just four years away from landing men on the moon.

I worked a year and nine months at The Huntsville News ... and then my friend Bill Easterling, who was sports editor of The Times, invited me to come across town and join their sports staff for a $30-a-week raise. That was September 1966, and I've been at The Times ever since, first as a staff writer, then Assistant Sports Editor and eventually sports editor.

I've worked 41 years in the same building, and I guess that's pretty unusual in any line of work nowadays.

I had a few chances to leave over the years. I could've gone to several other newspapers in the state at one time or another. I had a nice offer from the Atlanta Journal. The best offer might've been in the late '60s at an innovative newspaper called Florida Today, in Cocoa Beach .

But I never seriously considered leaving because I loved The Huntsville Times and I loved the city, and so did my wife and our three kids. Sometimes you wonder: Should I have taken such-and-such a job in that bigger market at a higher salary? But I've never regretted staying, and now I'm within a few months of retiring. It seems hard to believe. Where have the years gone?


I think you run the risk of sounding like a name-dropper when you look back over your career and talk about the people you've met. But the truth is, I've been very lucky to get to know - and interview - lots of famous people, visit lots of famous places, and cover lots of great events.

Here's just a partial list

I've talked to most of the great college football coaches of the modern era: Bear Bryant ... Shug Jordan ...

Johnny Vaught ... Bobby Dodd ... Joe Paterno .... Bobby Bowden ... Woody Hayes ... Darrell Royal ... and my personal favorite, Louis Crews of Alabama A&M.

I've interviewed Don Shula and Adolph Rupp .... Richard Petty and A. J. Foyt .... Jesse Owens (what a thrill that was) ... and Alice Coachman, the first American black woman to ever win a gold medal in the Olympics.

I've interviewed Jennifer Chandler ... Johnny Unitas ... Joe Namath ... John Hannah ... Bo Jackson ... Pat Sullivan ... Hank Aaron ... Barry Bonds .... even Joe DiMaggio, who was shilling for Mr. Coffee at the time. Remember those coffee commercials on TV? Joe's agent told me before the interview: "Joe will answer any question ... except one. Don't ask him about Marilyn Monroe."

I've covered ballgames at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park , Yankee Stadium, the LA Coliseum and the Rose Bowl.

I've covered all the major bowls. I've covered the Masters and the U.S. Open and the PGA in golf .... Wimbledon in tennis ... and the Kentucky Derby.


I've covered boxing and ice hockey and the Major League All-Star game and the NCAA Final Four and the Olympics.

I've traveled to England , Scotland , Canada and Mexico , and nearly all the 50 states, including Hawaii , on The Huntsville Times' money ... And I got to go to Scotland twice, for week-long trips with Conrad Rehling and the Alabama golf team. I've played some of the greatest golf courses in the world - St. Andrews , Carnoustie, Gleneagles, Augusta National, Pinehurst NO.2 - all on expense account.

How lucky can you can?


The newspaper business has evolved and changed so much since I first started in the mid-'60s. Times were different in so many ways.

I was lucky enough to get in on the back end of an era when people still relied primarily on their daily newspaper for the news.

In Sports, people who followed Alabama and Auburn and the other big schools probably knew the scores by Sunday morning and they may have listened on the radio to the game on Saturday, but they turned to the Sunday paper for all the details.

The TV sports explosion was still several years away. College football still had only one TV game a week. The Internet hadn't even been thought of. Neither had ESPN.

We wrote stories on old-fashioned typewriters in the office and marked up our copy with red grease pencils.

We used carbon paper and paste pots. We sent our stories to the composing room, where skilled Linotype operators set the type in hot metal; Pages were cast in plates and sent upstairs to the pressroom.

You've head the old expression about having printer's Ink in your blood. It was true. We all did, all throughout the newspaper - the newsroom, the press room, the composing room, circulation, advertising.

Those were the days. I have to say, it's not nearly as much fun now. We're much more efficient today. We're better in many important ways. We write and paginate our pages on computers. Everybody is more specialized and compartmentalized. I think the writing is as good or better than it ever was.

But we don't get printers' ink on our fingers any more. We're not as close as a newspaper family as we used to be. We have a lot more people and we're quicker and more efficient and it's still a great place to work. But it's not what it used to be.

We used to be like, well, Shavers Book Store. Now we're Books-a-Million.

I hate to say it because I'll be a newspaperman until I die, but newspapers don't mean as much to as many people as they used to. Surveys show a majority of people - especially young people - now get most of their news from the TV, or radio, or increasingly, from the Internet.

New Technology and the world of the Internet have changed everything.

At our newspaper now, everybody who writes anything is being asked to write not only for the paper but also contribute to blogs on AL.COM, which is the Internet site for all the Newhouse papers in Alabama - Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile. It's all a part of the evolving newspaper business, all a part of trying to keep our head above water, financially...

Some people believe newspapers as we know them will eventually become as extinct as the dinosaur. I'm not that pessimistic. Personally, I think we're always going to have newspapers in some form. After all, you can't take your computer to the bath room. Well, I guess you could if it's a laptop.

But sad to say, I'm afraid the Golden Era of newspapers is long gone. I'm just glad I was around to least get in on a part of it.

I think I'll stop here. If you have any questions, I'll be glad to try to answer.


After John spoke I said:

I have to tell you that when John agreed to be our guest speaker, he asked me “What do you do need me to do?”  To which I replied, “Just be sure to be here not later than 1:00;” to which he quickly replied, “Oh I’ll be there earlier than that – I’ll be there for lunch!!!”  It’s my feeling that since John attended our reunion last year for the first time and ate our food, we can expect him to be a regular among us!!  And we couldn’t be happier.  Thanks John.

Item of interest:

I asked John if he made work assignments in the Sports Department; his answer was:

Bill Bryant and Bruce McLellan make the assignments. I get to decide my own, but they handle the others.

Rison-Dallas Association, Inc.