Thursdays were special days when I was growing up. That was the day our county paper, then the Pike County News, was on the street. After my parents thumbed through it, it was passed to me and I read it–cover to cover–even as a youngster.
One of my favorite regular pieces each week was a column called “The Personal Touch”, written by Lucille Sadd Smith.
In “The Personal Touch”, Mrs. Smith wrote short paragraphs about the social scene in our county seat.
Seldom did I know the people she wrote about and only occasionally would I would recognize a name. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading what the movers and the shakers of the community were doing.
A bridge club would meet; someone would travel to Lexington on a shopping excursion; people would welcome babies or mourn deaths.
In short, it was a reflection of what people were doing. My favorite blurb, often accompanied by a grainy black and white photograph, was that someone had hosted a “Come As You Are Party” Saturday night. And there in the picture would be a woman in curlers, a man in his torn T-shirt, a matron in her apron.
It wasn’t a gossip column. It was short, simple facts stated as such with no embellishment.
Years later when I first got into community journalism, I discovered that other small town papers had such columnists who detailed the comings and goings of their neighbors.
Some columnists wrote on a weekly basis; others less frequently. No headline was used, but what we call a “standing hed” was substituted to reflect where the news came from.
I also learned that these community columns were called “the dots” in the newsroom.
Why? Because inevitably each paragraph end with the ellipsis. You know. Dot. Dot. Dot.
Over the years the dots began to diminish as the columnists either became too old or sick to continue to keep up with the Joneses.
The last holdout was the “West Franklin News” written by the scholarly Dr. Robert Poole, a man so well educated and so cultured, we often wondered what pleasure he derived from writing his dots.
One of his tidbits that appeared almost every week was:
Dr. Robert Poole and the Baroness Liliana Caprara dined at the 441 Complex Friday evening . . .
We all knew that meant Dr. Poole and the widow Caprara had eaten a hamburger at the truck stop on the interstate.
When Dr. Poole died, the dots died with him and we were saddened.
On the drive home earlier this week, Dr. Poole and the dots came to mind and got me to thinking.
We need to resurrect the dots.
What better way to keep in touch with the people we know, but can’t somehow find time to inquire after?
Williston-Bronson has several communities in its range. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would come forth, say from Morriston, Raleigh, University Oaks, Williston Highlands, etc. etc. to write a column about what people are doing?
If you’re interested in this non-paid chance to write a some-time column for the Williston Pioneer, let me know by calling 528-3343 or e-mail email@example.com.
I will be happy to discuss it with you and together we can help our community be better informed.
Carolyn Ten Broeck is editor of the Williston Pioneer.