A Newsroom View: I’m ‘The Newspaper Lady’ – Meridian Star
Not too long ago, a friend and I were leaving a popular restaurant in Flowood when out of nowhere we heard, “There’s the 393 Lady!”
My friend laughed and said, “You can’t get away from it, can you?”
The young man who recognized me was helping his parents out of his car, which had a Lauderdale County license plate. I walked over to them and after introductions, we talked a few minutes about the magazine he referenced me by (now known as Meridian Home & Style), particularly their views on the changes made to the publication in recent months. I was pleased to hear their positive reviews, and upon parting gave them a copy of the current issue I happened to have with me.
Such incidents are a common occurrence for me. And why not? I’ve only been doing this 34 years. Do I tire of it? Never! To paraphrase legendary singer Patti LaBelle, “When they stop recognizing you, that’s when you need to worry!”
While as a child I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would put me in the spotlight (a clown at a children’s hospital, a dancer or a drummer in a band), journalism, particularly the newspaper business, was not something I’d ever considered.
Even when my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Bell told me I was going to be a writer, I envisioned books, not the newspaper. Although I was on the newspaper staff from junior high to high school (even served as features editor of The Wildcat my junior and senior years and earned recognition from the Mississippi Press Women’s Association), I did not consider the newspaper industry in my future.
It was at the encouragement of a late cousin and several of my teachers that I decided to pursue journalism as a career. After more than three decades in the profession, I can attest that like many of my cohorts, “I have ink in my veins.”
My career as a newspaper journalist has taken me many places. I have been in the middle of a drug bust, painfully watched a son agonize over the realization he accidentally shot and killed his mother, met quite a few celebrities and have been moved to tears as I watched one of our presidents, George H.W. Bush, sit on the Temple Theater stage and weep as a hometown boy he’d befriended was being memorialized.
But among the greatest aspects of my career as a journalist, as a newspaperwoman, has been and continues to be the people I meet right here in my hometown. Not only those I interview, but also the readers. It never ceases to amaze me which stories people remember. A few years ago, a woman came up to me in the grocery store and asked, “Have you learned to make gravy, yet?” She was referring to a column I’d written years ago about my making so much gravy that you had to search for the meat in the pan. After sharing a laugh with the woman (whom I’d never seen before), I told her my gravy-making skills were much improved. She smiled, hugged me then walked away.
Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to being referred to as “Miss Meridian Star,” “The Lady from The Newspaper” and my most recent moniker. When I’m shopping, eating at restaurants or just walking down the street, people often speak to me with some reference to my job.
So to respond to my friend’s question, “You can’t get away from it, can you?”
No, I can’t. Nor do I care to.