Rarely in American literature have readers been as perplexed as they have over the sequel to Harper Lee’s magnificent novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
In “Go Set A Watchman,” she created a segregationist Atticus Finch, who, in “Mockingbird” was cast as the role model for fathers and especially lawyers.
Nothing enhanced the image of attorneys like the first Atticus, a liberal lawyer passionately defending a black man wrongly charged with the rape of a white woman in a racist-ridden Alabama culture.
With “Mockingbird” a blockbuster success, selling 40 million copies, you’d think Harper Lee would have deluged the market with other novels, especially since she once declared “All I want to be is the Jane Austen of Southern Alabama.”
Instead she produced only two novels.
Speaking of attorneys, I’m reminded of an anecdote related to me by a lawyer friend.
Two hot air balloonists on their maiden flight became lost. They drifted over a small town and spotted a man going out to fetch his newspaper.
One of the balloonists leaned out and yelled, “Hallooooo, down there! Where are we?”
The man on the ground looked up and yelled, “You’re in a hot air balloon!”
The disappointed balloonist turned to his buddy and sighed, “He must be a lawyer. He gave us the answer and it ain’t worth a dern.”
Nevertheless, along with preachers and doctors, lawyers are among the most essential professionals in our litigious society. And most attorneys I know have a sense of humor.
As for Atticus Finch, choose your own version.
The perfect squelch
In Greek mythology, the three Graces are charm, beauty and creativity.
In the culture in which we live, I would nominate humility as the fourth Grace. Few characteristics of the human psyche are more admirable.
What brought this subject to mind was an e-mail from Fred Watson of Sanford, recounting an incident that happened during his training for a short stint as a police officer.
Fred was riding with a veteran sergeant late one night when a driver ran a red light.
After pulling the car over, the sergeant sent Fred to deal with the driver, who was the son of a prominent local citizen.
When the driver began cursing Fred, the sergeant left his cruiser and walked over to defuse the situation.
“When he asked what the problem was, the young man snapped, “Do you know who my father is?”
The unruffled sergeant responded, “You don’t know who your father is?”
My new photo
Thanks for your positive responses to our newspaper’s new format. Some of you even like the new photo of me. But not all.
“I’ve never met you, but from your column in the newspaper I envision you as a happy fellow. So when I saw the new picture of you, it was a shock to me!” wrote Maria Comas of Raleigh. “That picture is awful! You look unhappy and angry. How could they have done that to you? Demand to have a new one and wear a big smile.”
Robert Baker of Clayton agreed: “Your new picture in the paper has more wrinkles than the newspaper itself. You need a new photographer. Use Barry Saunders photographer. He got a decent hat and lost 30 years.”
The photo reminds me of what the late Republican wit Alice Roosevelt Longworth once said of President Calvin Coolidge: “When he wished he were elsewhere, he pursed his lips, folded his arms and said nothing. He looked then precisely as though he had been weaned on a pickle.”
I don’t think my new photo fully reflects my Robert Redford good looks, but it will have to do. Cameras don’t lie.
At least I don’t have a pickle personality, Maria.