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Work produced many friends

“Say it ain’t so Joe,” a young boy pleaded with Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1920 when Jackson and other Chicago White Sox were accused of fixing baseball’s 1919 World Series. Overheard, the statement was reported in that day’s press and served as a way for White Sox fans to vent their disappointment.

Several of my friends called and e-mailed me this week, saying “Say it ain’t so” when my wife, Peggy, and I announced we will retire from The Clanton Advertiser later this year. Each time, it reminded me of the young baseball fan’s heartfelt plea to Shoeless Joe.

Peggy and I have received many calls, notes, e-mails and personal contacts from many people here who read Wednesday’s story in the Advertiser and called to wish us well in our retirement. We truly appreciate every call and both know very well that we have gained much more from our association with the people of Chilton County than we have returned. It’s a fact.

As the days rush by toward our final day here, I have spent some time thinking about the many people who have entered our lives as the result of our work at this newspaper. We are thankful for the opportunity you have given us to chronicle the events that have occurred over the years.

While there have been many big stories during the past 34 years, we never lost sight of the truth that birthday stories are just important in community journalism as big, breaking news stories. Our stories about residents make their way from our pages to refrigerator doors to scrapbooks to cedar chests, where they are saved for future generations.

Since Alabama law requires all printed newspapers to be bound and retained by county governments, newspapers serve as historical records of communities written as the history is being made. In that way alone, community newspapers serve well the community in which they thrive…in addition to being good material for the bottom of bird cages.

As it did when we joined with other newspaper people in Alabama to purchase this newspaper in 1975, The Clanton Advertiser will continue to work hard to cover the news that is important to the people of Chilton County. I am excited about future plans here to further improve your newspaper and for the young journalists who will have the opportunity to move it into new realms of news coverage and distribution.

And, by the way, Shoeless Joe Jackson was acquitted by a jury of charges that he and others fixed the 1919 World Series. But he was banned from professional baseball anyway. I guess the young Chicago White Sox fan never did learn the real answer to his question.