"Good Morning America" was on the tiny television in our kitchen, as it is every morning, but honesty compels me to admit that I wasn't paying too much attention. I was enjoying my second cup of coffee and trying to get the last couple of clues in the Tuesday crossword before heading out to school. Robin Roberts was chatting with George Stephanopoulos about something that was going on in the news when I heard George S. mention "Covington, Ga."
Naturally my ears perked up and I gave the screen my undivided attention. What were they about to announce?
Was Ronald Bradley coming out of retirement again? Was Sam Ramsey about to announce that he was going to challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination? Was Oprah Winfrey going to buy a house on Floyd Street?
The answer turned out to be none of the above.
The breaking news on the ABC morning news show -- the story that put Newton County in the national spotlight -- was about dog poop. That's right. Bill Clinton's former press secretary, the man who hosts his network's Sunday news show, one of the most respected journalists of television was talking about Covington, Ga., and dog doo-doo.
Of all the things that could be said about Newton's county seat, this is what they came up with.
Just last week the city was featured on an Atlanta station because of the exciting new industry that will be bringing hundreds and hundreds of jobs to the community. Now we are live from New York and the topic is a crappy story about feuding neighbors. At least one was feuding. The other apparently wasn't aware that there were hard feelings afloat.
This is what apparently happened. One guy, while walking his dog in a very upscale Covington neighborhood, stopped to make a deposit in his neighbors' mailbox. No, the guy was not a mailman and the special delivery package he dropped off was not an invitation to a barbecue or afternoon tea. It was a plastic bag filled with the aforementioned doggy-poo.
Ugh. No one wants to walk down to pick up the mail and find a bag of dog mess. The bills and solicitations one finds on a daily basis are bad enough without having to contend with dog droppings left by the person next door.
I ain't making this up y'all. And the person doing the dropping off was not a youthful prankster. He was a 71-year-old man who is a former president of CNN Headline News -- which is probably where he got his training in delivering the foul-smelling excrement. He is also a respected professor at the University of Georgia, which may or may not account for the dog portion of the equation.
What the offender may or may not have known was that a surveillance camera captured the dirty deed on tape. He readily admitted to what he had done and called it an immature prank but he didn't apologize. He said that he was reacting to "years of malicious rumor-mongering" by the offendees.
The offendees claimed that any simmering feud was news to them. They said that they had not spoken to the offender in years and called the incident a "silly prank" and insist that they are "over it."
Time will tell, but I bet they are at least considering some sort of payback. I could give them a few good ideas if they asked. While I have never participated in a neighborhood feud I did work on camp staff for several years. I was a Jamison man and when the folks across the lake, at Weenie Land, pulled a prank on us, we retaliated ten-fold. John Foster Dulles called it massive retaliation.
Or maybe the offendees should continue to take the high road and leave well enough alone. After all, massive retaliation would have led to mutually assured destruction and everyone knows that is simply mad.
The worst part of the whole story, from a personal standpoint, was that I wasted two minutes of my life listening to GMA report on the story and had to leave for school without completing my crossword puzzle.
Back in the 1960s, then AJC sports writer Joe Litch once wrote that the only reason anybody used to visit Newton County was to drop off their children at Little Emory or to eat dinner at the Porterdale Hotel. Then Ronald Bradley came to town and created a high school basketball dynasty that put Covington on the map.
Now, 45 years later, we are featured live from New York, and this is the story.
Oh, well. P.T. Barnum once said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity." Besides. Things could have been worse. George and Robin could have announced that Oprah had bought a house on Floyd Street.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.