For most of my adult life, I’ve worked with words. First, I wrote them as a journalist for The Associated Press and now the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I started my resume at two small newspapers when I was a teenager in Marked Tree, a small town in northeast Arkansas. For almost seven years, I took my craft to a school in another small town where I taught English, started a student newspaper, and faced disciplinary problems more common in urban schools.
In mid-life, I’d say the words, “I do,” and later bring a little girl who had just learned to walk and talk into our country and home. Annie is 17 now. She’s driving, dating, and preparing for college.
Over the years, I’ve won numerous awards, among them Arkansas’ top investigative-reporting award twice for articles that led to two consecutive university presidents’ resignations. One went on to plead guilty to a felony in federal court; the other, to a misdemeanor in state court.
My writing has appeared in papers around the world, including The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. My freelance work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Hadassah Magazine, Angie’s List, English Journal, The Des Moines Register, and other publications.
I began my career as a teenager writing for my hometown weekly, the Marked Tree Tribune. I’d start work in the mornings and often still be rolling papers for mail distribution the next day at 3 a.m. Later while attending Arkansas State University, I wrote part-time for the daily Jonesboro Sun.
My first job out of college was as an intern at the AP in Little Rock. I would quit and return there twice more before I transferred to Illinois. I worked in the Chicago bureau for almost 20 years and briefly in the Atlanta and Louisville, Ky., bureaus.
At the AP, I have interviewed a wide range of newsmakers. Among them were a welfare mom who sent her nine children and then herself to college, two former presidents, death-row inmates, and the suspected Tylenol killer.
I interviewed a young Donald Trump when he was in Chicago for a meeting of the dying USFL. I first met Bill Clinton when he was presidential candidate George McGovern’s advance man and sported an Afro hairstyle. I later interviewed Clinton more than once when he was Arkansas’ governor and at one point covered him on the presidential campaign trail.
Other notable interviews were with the likes of the late Ann Landers, authors Anne Lamott and Scott Turow, and people whose professional lives have since taken major setbacks – Hillary Rodham Clinton among them.
Over the years some stories made me smile; others made me sad, angry, confused. On this blog, I look back at some of those stories, the people in and surrounding them.
I also am sharing an occasional piece of appropriately labeled fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction essays, and book reviews.I welcome contributors’ book reviews and will share some them as well.