I used to think I’d spend my entire career at one newspaper. A friend and mentor of mine, Herman Cawthon, who passed away a few years ago, did just that. Herman started working part-time at the Jackson Progress-Argus in 1947 when he was 15. When he graduated from high school in 1949, he joined the U. S. Merchant Marines and served on ships for two years. When he returned home in 1951, Herman went back to work for the Progress-Argus and stayed there for the rest of his working life. I was Editor of the Progress-Argus from 1993 to 1999. Herman was Publisher by then, and I learned a lot from him. The last year I was there, 1999, was Herman’s 50th anniversary of working for the paper. He worked for four more years until he retired. Not many people can claim 54 years of working for the same company or paper.
My longest tenure has been seven years. I worked for The Henry Herald in McDonough from 1986 to 1993. I would have worked there longer, but the company that owned The Herald bought the Jackson newspaper. It needed an editor, so they asked me to go to Jackson. I stayed in Jackson for six years. After that, I was at another paper in McDonough for two years, worked for the county government for seven years, and at a third paper in McDonough for a year before coming down here. This is my fourth year at The Thomaston Times, so it is my third longest time at a newspaper.
But it won’t have a chance of overtaking the 1st and 2nd longest newspapers, because I’m leaving. It is with some sorrow and trepidation that I say that, since I have come to enjoy being a small part of Thomaston and Upson County, and providing you with the news and, occasionally, my opinion on how things are going around here. But I’ve been offered an opportunity I just can’t pass up.
When TUAC held their Grand Ole Opry recently, I was one of the singers participating in the show. There happened to be a talent scout for a major recording label in the audience that night. He heard me sing, and afterwards, came up and said I was one of the best country singers he had heard in a long time. He said he ran out and called his recording company right after I sang and convinced them that I was the next big country star, and he wants me to go to Nashville next week and start work on recording my first single and an album. Needless to say, I was impressed by his offer, and the contract he had with him was for a lot more money that what I’m making at the newspaper, so I just couldn’t say no.
But I am leaving with regrets. I know I’ll miss covering the Thomaston City Council and their record-setting 15 minutes or less meetings, the Yatesville Council and the Thomaston-Upson Board of Education. I’ll miss the lunches with the Kiwanis Club and Sertoma. I’ll miss covering and enjoying everything that happens around here, from the Armstrong School of Dance recitals to Smoke on the Water, to the Yatesville Chitlin Festival (yes, I still love eating chitlins). I’ll especially miss working with Ashley and Shirley and Laurie and Tandi, and even Wes. And, admittedly, I’ll also miss competing with Matt and Debbie for news, and with Ellen for photos.
Now, I know there are some of you out there who don’t really care for me and are thinking, “Good riddance,” right now. And I know there are some of you who might actually feel a brief twinge of disappointment on my leaving. And I also know there are some of you who are saying, “Larry? I heard him sing. A country music star? Ain’t no way!”
Well, to all of you, all I can say is, “Check the date of the paper.”…………………………… GOTCHA!
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.