December 22, 2011
Photo by Vicki Harris
Stories this photo appears in:
Once I was aboard a riverboat called the American Queen on which I had spent several days cruising along what I consider to be the majestic Mississippi River. I boarded in New Orleans and, along with the other passengers, crawled toward St. Louis.
I guess it had been more than a year that I had been thinking that I wasn't as funny as I used to be. When you make your living with witty observations and entertaining stories, this isn't an asset you want to lose.I fretted a bit, thinking that stress and problems were slowing the quick draw of my wit.
Out of the blue one day, I got an email from an old, beloved friend from my NASCAR days. In the days when first I met him, Jim Freeman was the public relations director at the Talladega track. That was when the publicity at all the tracks was run by men, some college educated, some not, who were amicable, back-slapping and well-liked.They worked hard to beg attention for a sport that few media outlets cared about so when the reporters did show up, they made them feel at home, almost smothering them with Southern hospitality. They inched their way, little by little, to big papers like USA Today, the Washington Post and the New York Times sending out reporters. USA Today was the first to step up and commit, sending Jerry Potter, a good friend of mine, to cover the beat on a regular basis. The others mostly visited only for the Daytona 500.
When Miss Virgie, my beloved mentor on all things Southern proper, came to visit with her husband, Bill, she lovingly lectured me whenever I fell short.
A couple of years ago, I was in Fayetteville, Ark., having dinner with a few folks including two of the loveliest people I know -- Gen and Frank Broyles.Now, if you're a college football fan, you'll know whom the legendary Frank Broyles is. For those of you who don't, he was a titan of football while reigning as head coach for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks for 40 years and leading them to a national championship.
My brother-in-law, Rodney, called me up one day. He's one of my favorite people and even when I should get mad at him, I never can. He's so charming and funny.