Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Columnversary!

My first column in the
Kerrville Daily Times, November 13, 1994.
Click to enlarge.
On November 13, 1994, this column made its first appearance on these pages, and in the 22 years since, save that one year where I took some time off, this newspaper has been kind enough to publish a few paragraphs of mine each Saturday.
Let's do the math: so far this newspaper has published about 1092 of my columns, or a little over 700,000 words. Most of those columns were submitted on time, though a few were hastily written after a patient editor called to remind me that, yes, I write a column. A weekly column. For which the deadline has past.
Surprisingly, many of the most hastily-written columns read quite well; I suppose there's nothing like a missed deadline to focus one's attention. My personal record for writing one of those "oops" columns is eight minutes.
In these years I've made some glaring errors, mostly grammatical errors, but occasionally factual errors. I've tried to correct the factual errors, of course. I'm still working on grammar.
In the earliest years of this column several of my former English teachers, both from high school and junior high school, would occasionally drop by the print shop with a copy of my column. "I taught you better," they'd insist, kindly. The printed column they handed me would have my mistakes circled in red pencil; fortunately none of the teachers graded my work. Honestly, though, I was thankful for their help, and also thankful they were reading my column.
And I've had more than a few people point out factual errors I've made. I'm thankful for them, too.
I believe Neice Bell is the fifth publisher for which I've worked; Lisa Treiber-Walter is about the tenth managing editor. (We three have something in common: we each previously worked at the Kerrville Mountain Sun.)
There are few on the current Kerrville Daily Times staff who worked at the newspaper when I started my column. I think there is only one person, actually: Jeanette Nash, the assistant managing editor. Ms. Nash has been kind enough to call me when I forget I write a column each week, to remind me about my deadline. She has had to do this many times.
In the first months of the column I would visit the newspaper office and type my column there. Later, I could use my own computer to write the column, save the work to a floppy disk, drive to the newspaper office, and use a computer there to finish up. The next step was email, which meant I could work on my column and send it in as an email attachment. That is how the column arrives at the newspaper office today.
Research for the column has changed, too. In the earliest days, if I wanted to research a part of our community's history, I'd need a book, or an old newspaper, or the files of newspapers on microfiche at the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library. In those cases I'd need to know exactly what I was looking for, on what page it appeared, and when it was published. Translation: I went through a lot of haystacks to find any needles.
Today, thankfully, I can use the Internet to search newspaper archives, and I can search those archives by keyword. If I want to find a news story about Tivy Football in 1935, I can do so quickly and easily.
If you want to search my columns (and my collection of historical Kerr County photographs), you can visit my website, There is a search box on that site, so you can enter "Florence Butt" and see everything about the founder of the H-E-B grocery company which I've published online. The website is free, of course.
I'm thankful to the Kerrville Daily Times for its support over these decades. I'm also thankful to the kind readers of this column, and for those readers who help me make it better (and more accurate). I'm thankful to my family, and especially Ms. Carolyn, for their support of my hobby, and for their patience as I explore odd and hidden places around our community.
It's been fun so far.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who signed off his first column "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."  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 19, 2016.

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