Perdido offered chance for brief relaxation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

I had the opportunity to attend the Alabama Press Association Convention at Perdido Beach Resort from Thursday until Saturday; a welcome break from the satisfactory grind of publishing a pair of newspapers during the week.

Newspapers from around Alabama annually converge on the Gulf Coast during the summer months and while the APA does make sure to provide an ample environment for learning, the July convention is one that places an equal emphasis on fun and celebration. Publishers, editors and staff members generally meet, greet and have a grand old time, while also taking the chance to acknowledge one another's accomplishments by way of an awards banquet on the last day of the convention. And just in case that was a bit too stuffy for you, an after-banquet dance allows you the chance to cut loose and bust a move.

I cut loose. I did not, however, bust a move.

Speakers this year included Alabama's grand dame of the ghost tale, Kathryn Tucker Windham, and celebrated Alabama reporter and author, Rick Bragg.

Windham spoke during Saturday's luncheon. She spoke of how the editor at the Montgomery Advertiser had taken one look at her, fresh out of college in the 40s, and responded: &#8220You write well. To bad you're not a man.”

She was able to obtain a job later with The Alabama Journal and recalled how Montgomery police despised her when she was assigned as the Journal's police reporter. Additionally, when she attended any city meetings, officials called her editor and told them not to send &#8220that girl” anymore.

When the editor asked why, the official responded, because she didn't &#8220take notes.”

Windham said she trained herself to remember things. A good reporter, she said, shouldn't have to take notes.

&#8220But from then on out, I carried a notebook to the meetings and acted like I was writing something.”

Windham was given a standing ovation from the attendees.

Bragg, who gained fame as a journalist with The New York Times and with his books, Ava's Man, All Over But The Shoutin', and Somebody Told Me, talked about his new marriage. The former bachelor is married now, and said he has &#8220inherited” three boys, two of which that attend The University of Tennessee.

&#8220Proof that there is a God and He does punish you for past sins,” he joked.

Bragg referred to himself as a product of the Alabama media and said he'd always wanted the chance to thank his former employees for the guidance he'd been given early in life.

&#8220You made me,” he said. &#8220It's your fault.”

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: