Living Columns & Blogs

Why are so many people running for president of the United States?

Are all those candidates called to serve? I’m still amazed that more than two dozen American citizens are running for the high office of President of the United States.

I’d like to probe the inner workings of a candidate’s psyche that is so overwhelmed with self-confidence, self-worth and intelligence that causes him or her to awaken one morning and hear an inner voice crying, “My country needs me! I must offer myself as President of the United States of America, and consequently as the leader of the free world!”

This gargantuan fervor sends them forth to do battle with the odds and spend weeks and months of promising, promising, promising and basking in the waves of public applause, or inwardly grieving over the lack thereof.

Undoubtedly, some of the candidates misunderstand the call to public service.

Forgive me for again sharing one of my favorite anecdotes about the preacher who liked to tell his congregation how he was leaving his job at the mill one day and looked up and saw “GPC” written across the sky in big, blazing letters. Convinced that the letters were a directive from God to “Go Preach Christ,” the fellow quit his mill job and became a preacher.

In time, members of the congregation became convinced that their minister had misinterpreted the celestial message. They felt that the GPC in the sky meant “Go plow corn” rather than “Go Preach Christ.”

I grew up with the term “cornfield preachers.”

Newsroom memories

When I retired as editor and columnist of The Raleigh Times, The News & Observer retained me as a columnist. Switching loyalty from the feisty afternoon paper to our sometimes bitter competition across the hall required a considerable adjustment in attitude.

I now write from an office in my home. But I still miss the nostalgia of the live, active and sometimes noisy newsroom. There’s nothing quite like it.

The newsrooms of my career were special. The last time I visited The N&O newsroom, I walked into the editor’s office that I occupied for so many years. Waves of nostalgia swept over me as I looked out over Nash Square.

A couple of people lay stretched out on benches, stealing a snooze. At that moment, an inquisitive squirrel walked across the back of one of the benches and peered down at the sleeping occupant. Someone called me and I turned away.

The remembered voice of country singer Loretta Lynn invaded my mind: ”Precious memories. How they linger. How they ever flood my soul.”

Body language

My 16-year-old nephew Wade is spending a month on a group tour of Greece. Perusing his pre-tour manual I was amused by one of the items on a list of Do’s and Don’ts.

Don’t shake hands: An outstretched palm to a Greek is considered a social insult.

Summer tomatoes

Have you visited the Raleigh Farmers’ Market lately? Don’t pass up the experience of viewing and buying what farmers have brought forth from the land and their labor under the summer sun. I also enjoy chatting with the no-nonsense farmers and eavesdropping on their conversation with their citified customers. I was standing in front of one of the stands, admiring the handsome display of red-ripe tomatoes when a woman approached.

Pointing at the tomatoes, she asked, “What are those?” wanting to know if they were Ponderosa, German Johnson, Beefsteak and so forth.

The tall, sunburned farmer looked at her with unconcealed impatience and replied, “Why Lady, thems ‘maters. Ain’t you never seen ‘maters before?”