Thursday, June 25, 2009
On coast for convention
I’m guessing it was my 20th Mississippi Press Association Summer Convention.
Last weekend in Biloxi someone asked me, “How many?”
I told them I think I’d missed a couple since my first in 1987.
Then they asked, “Which one was your favorite?”
No particular one stands out. I will say the early ones were the best. That’s partially because I really liked the “old” Mississippi Gulf Coast, prior to casinos. The Beau Rivage is really nice, but I still miss the landmark Broadwater Hotel, which was the coast’s premier resort in its heyday.
And the early years were when I got to know some of Mississippi’s newspaper legends. One of those, Jim Abbott of Indianola, was inducted into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame this Friday night.
I can think of no one more deserving of this honor.
Jim Abbott, who recently retired, set the standard in our state when it comes to publishing community weekly newspapers. He served 38 years as editor of The Enterprise-Tocsin, taking the reins at age 26.
I remember my mentor, Rubye Del Harden, displaying on a large board front pages of high quality, exemplary newspapers at The Itawamba County Times so we could pick up some “tips.” The best, we thought, was The Enterprise-Tocsin.
Lisa McNeece of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce agreed.
“Of the many newspapers that came to our paper every week, The Enterprise-Tocsin was a ‘must read,’” she said as a tribute to Jim Abbott and his work.
Our 15-year-old, Andy, and our 7-year-old, Erin, accompanied Pam and I. This was Erin’s first MPA Convention, and she’s already looking forward to next year’s, which will be in Tunica.
She attended “Press Camp” for the younger children. It included swimming, movies and more. She had a blast, and she was as tired each night as I’ve ever seen her – falling asleep almost before she reached the bed.
And yes, we made the annual souvenir shop visit to bring home more hermit crabs. We made it to one of our favorite shops, which had just reopened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, at about 9:50 p.m., just 10 minutes prior to closing on Saturday. We didn’t plan that strategy, but it worked out well – giving Erin less time to pick out her three favorites.
Recovery on the coast continues to progress since Katrina’s devastation in 2005.
We had a unique dining out experience with good friends John and J.J. Carney of The Lawrence County Press (Monticello). We went to Shady’s Global Grille and Oyster Bar in Ocean Springs.
We ordered, and when our food was delivered, the waitress had two fried oyster platters. The problem was we only ordered one, and I told her so. She insisted I was wrong. The rest of the order was right. The food was great.
She later brought the oysters back to our table and said we could eat them for free. She said she would have to be the one to pay for them, which I thought was information that shouldn’t be shared with customers.
In her defense, she was very busy. But I was taught the customer is always right.
And I will say this – I would go back to Shady’s.
It was a good convention – always a big reunion of newspaper friends.
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