Thursday, March 29, 2012

Where my riches lie

So, I'm sitting in one of the back offices, finishing up a news meeting, when the phone rings.

On the other end of the line is a voice I haven't heard in at least four years. Ted Griffith, great guy, film buff, former sportswriter for the daily Knoxville Journal.

"Just had to call you about that great column you wrote about 'Casablanca,'" Ted says. "It's been my favorite movie since I was eight years old. I've seen it about 150 times.

"It's the closest thing to a perfect movie," he said. I agreed.

Turns out Ted had the same problem with the digital projection that Jenn, Dean and I did. (You can read that post here.) All I can say is, "Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away..."

We chatted awhile, about movies and mutual friends and maybe going to Pall Mall (that Tennessee town is pronounced like it looks, unlike the cigarette) to see Sgt. Alvin C. York's grave.

Ted made my day just by calling. Then he put the icing on the cake.

"I've just loved getting to read your column since I moved to Fountain City. It's just like you're having a conversation."

I gave the credit to Sandra Clark, my boss, mentor and friend, who told me years ago to write as if I were telling the tale to a neighbor over the fence behind the house.

"Your style reminds me a lot of Ben Byrd's," he said, meaning the legendary sports editor of the daily Knoxville Journal. Ben's "Byrd's Eye View" column was required reading once upon a time.

I thanked Ted profusely, although I'm not sure I belong in such company.

I mentioned Marvin West. Ted says Marvin's the best. I told him reading West's words each week is like listening to Mozart.

Silver and gold, diamond rings and limousines, you can keep all that. My riches lie with my family and friends, in the fact I herd words and get paid for it, in the sweet and simple joy of an unexpected phone call on a Thursday afternoon.

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