Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The 18th birthday of my Kerrville Daily Times Column

Eighteen years ago today, the Kerrville Daily Times published my column for the first time.
It was not my first newspaper column, however; while in high school I had written a weekly column for the Kerrville Mountain Sun, called "Hill Country People."
The Salter family, especially Forrest, had taken a kind interest in my desire to be a writer.  They paid me by the word, as I remember, so those columns had lots of adjectives.
On November 13, 1994, the following appeared on the Lifestyles page of the Kerrville Daily Times.  Re-reading it I notice it does not once mention anything about writing history.  I'm pretty sure I had no  idea what I would write about, and the following confirms that suspicion, though the outline is not unlike the column I wrote for the Mountain Sun:

November 13, 1994

Daily Times welcomes newest columnist

Editor’s note:  The Kerrville Daily Times is pleased to welcome a new column to the Sunday Lifestyle section: “Guadalupe Diary,” by Joe Herring Jr.
Herring is known to most Kerr County residents as the former mayor of Kerrville.  Herring is also a businessman and father of two, who was born and raised right here in Kerrville.  He will offer his unique view of the goings on and the people of the Kerrville area in this spot every Sunday.

Nope.  This column is not about local politics.  (Local politics have gotten far too confusing for this writer.)
No. This is not a column about Society. (Buffy, wearing a lovely blue evening dress hovered sadly nearby as Kip and Jedster discussed their golf game….)
And no, this column has absolutely nothing to do with any civic project.  Not Kerrville Old Town.  Not Texas Main Street.  Not Manhole Cover Mapping or even the County Jail.
This is a column about the Texas Hill Country, and the people who make it special.
This is a column that will look for people who are making a difference,” contributing their time, talent, and resources to make this a better place to live.
This column will attempt to celebrate their efforts, their hopes, and their successes.
And while I don’t think this will become an “unsung hero” column, I hope to write about folks who are doing good things without thought of recognition.
I also hope to provide you with information about important upcoming events – events you might not read about on the front page of the paper.
These events will be definitive Hill Country events; events that will help us understand why this area is so special.
They will be opportunities to get the most out of being a citizen of the hills.
Of course, such a column will need your help.
If you know the story of a Good Samaritan, let me know.  If you’re part of a group that is working to make a positive change, I’d like to hear your plans.
If you have an idea that would help make our community a better place, send it to me.
 * * *
Sometimes this column will be about failures.  About good ideas that didn’t make it.  About roadblocks and static and dead ends.
Like a lot of communities, we have our share of folks who can tear down anything; any column about the builders of a community cannot be silent about those who favor demolition.
It is also obvious that any column about folks who are working to make things better must also write about the problems they are trying to solve.
I can probably out “booster” anyone in town, but this column will not put problems up in the attic with crazy Aunt Gladys.
* * *
So why is Kerr County such a great place to live? What makes it special? Should we put the place in a jar and preserve it?  Should we close the gate and not let anyone else in?  Should we label it, market it, and make some bucks?
Are we special? Is this place special? What does “Hill Country” mean?  What could it mean in the future?
Perhaps this column will help answer these and other questions.
Like a diary, I’ll make my weekly marks on paper, with the hope that the sum of the marks is a bit of clarity.  I’ll need your help along the way.
It should be fun.

Well, that was the start: and it has been fun.  I'm thankful to all of the editors I've had over the years (there have been many), and for the kindness of so many readers.


  1. tanyaewilder@gmail.comNovember 14, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    This is an amazing piece Joe.

  2. Happy birthday, Joe's Column! Now that you're all grown up, I can tell you how much you've become part of my Saturday routine. You're the first thing I look at when I get to work and I've learned a lot from your words and you have given me many smiles over the years. I hope you've had a wonderful birthday and that you enjoy many more years of columnistic (is that a word?) excellence!!


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