Stories about people you know, May 4, 2005

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

If you get the chance, you might want to check out the current issue of Tidewater Women, a free, tabloid publication that can be found at various places.

The cover caught my eye in the library Wednesday (No, I wasn’t lost, I read some times, if it has pictures and large print).

Suffolk’s own photogenic Lydia Duke of Duke Automotive is the subject of the full cover, sans Rotary pin, from what I could ascertain (Please indulge for the inside joke).

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It was an interesting story inside about women in the car business. It told how Lydia was a homemaker one day when she found out her husband, Eley, who rand the dealership, was diagnosed with cancer and died three months later. Suddenly, she found herself in charge. I’ve been in Suffolk nearly five years and didn’t know the story.

I didn’t read the rest of the story. It was about people who don’t live in Suffolk, people I don’t know and in who I have no interest.

Knowing the people they read about is important to readers of local newspapers. I was in Demopolis, Ala. A couple months back working with another newspaper in that serves that small community. It had gone daily from twice weekly a year or so earlier and stuck in the middle of basically, nowhere, it was undertaking an effort to become a regional newspaper.

I was dubious of the effort for the reason described above. One morning I went to the gym next door to the Holiday Inn early. It had three treadmills side by side and I chose the middle one. Two upper middle-aged ladies came in about five minutes later. They obviously came every morning and jawed the news of the day. They seemed a little displeased at first that I was between them, but carried on their normal conversation, nonetheless.

I remained quiet until I got my opening and quickly seized it. One of the ladies mentioned an obituary she had seen in the Times that morning. I told them what I was doing there and asked them their thoughts on the local paper.

&uot;I quit taking it one said. It needs to be a Demopolis paper again. I don’t know anybody in Greene County and don’t want to read about them.&uot;

It was just as I had suspected. I reported my survey findings to the publisher but I don’t think he was interested.

A few tidbits:

My friend Winn Winslow, late of Ciba and chair of the local United Way campaign this year, is now working with Chorey & Associates Real Estate. Winn has a great personality and I’m sure he’ll do well in sells.

We reported Tuesday on the effort at the cultural arts center to raise funds by offering folks the opportunity to immortalize Suffolk educators on the steps of the old Suffolk High School Building. One of the steps was purchased in honor of Eunity Bailey, a long-time Suffolk educator. What a great name – Eunity Bailey. It’s so lyrical, and I’m putting it down on my list of all-time favorite names, joining Lysander Dudley, who was economic development director of West Virginia in the 1980s, and Malachi Pork, Huntersville community activist.

Her names puts me in mind of Heavenly Finley, the young girl who was Paul Newman’s love interest in &uot;Sweet Bird of Youth.&uot;