"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper personal column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in more than 140 countries.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Breakfast and memories of the Order of the Yellow Tablet

The OYT..from left, Dave Ford, Steve Law, Greg Scott, me, Rudi Nollert.
Kenny Brown seated.
The Order of the Yellow Tablet.
Defunct now, but once there was a spot, if not Camelot, still a gathering of wits and some wisdom, a refuge from ridiculous demands from higher up...the chairs of the Liberal Arts College at UCO.
That came  to mind and discussion this morning as Dave Ford, the chair of the Sociology department, and I, former chair of Journalism and Mass Communication, had breakfast and traded memories.
The occasion? Dave is retiring, and Friday is his last day. He and I came to UCO the same year, 1990, and we became friends, each serving many years as departmental chairs.
We credit former Dean Tim Baughman with creating a strong chair's council, and after he left, we began gathering informally on the porch of then Political Science Chair Greg Scott, taking notes on yellow legal pads. Thus was formed the noble-named and august body of the Order of  the Yellow Tablet. While many faculty disapproved of Tim, we found him an inclusive leader who brought needed structure to the college, real influence and power to a cohesive group of chairs, and other benefits we still see.
We also gathered socially at our house one evening about 10 (hence this photo) years ago, when History Chair Kenny Brown was stepping down, to honor him. It include memories, jokes, Humanities chair Steve Law's homemade mead, and more.
Dave is the last of that group to serve as chair. Three are now retired. Modern Languages Chair Rudi Nollert is now an assistant dean, Steve Law is still professing medieval life, making mead, chain mail and more, and I am still here as a professor of journalism. Greg and his wife Jill have retired to Santa Fe, and Kenny and his wife Diane are retired here.
Here's a toast to the members, my friends, of the Order of the Yellow Tablet. It kept us sane, gave us an outlet for frustrations, and helped bond good friends and colleagues. Salud!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Booked to go!

Books to go--Hillerman novels in front
How do you get rid of books? Actually you don't, because once read they're a part of you. But they do tend to accumulate.
Cleaning out shelves
I've tried a book sale, and that didn't work, other than just getting exercise carrying them out of the garage and back in at the end of the day. And yo can't just throw them away.
But I saw my opportunity as daughter Dallas and son-in-law Todd Bell want to open a bookstore in Canyon, Texas, and they're visiting garage sales and more, buying what they can. 
With her visit here this weekend, we started going through our shelves, and the ones under the bed, and in stacks on tables, and those in containers out in the garage, plus some from work. Some I'd collected and couldn't remember, or had never read, and they certainly went. 
So we started pulling them out, opening boxes, piling them up in various places in the house and garage to transfer  to her car. We filled her trunk and part of the back seat.
I think we parted with about 150 of them. Some you can't part with, yet--Heart of Darkness, Whitman, Blue Highways, A Moveable Feast, The Art Spirit, books given by my kids for Christmas, and so on. I still have my John McPhee and Ed Abbey and Ernie Pyle and Grizzly collections, my New Mexico and Larry McMurtry and poetry shelves, along with  my signed first editions. And of course my Dad's and my art books. Susan kept cookbooks and more.
From work
You go though the books, looking at the signed inscriptions on many, and the dates when I bought them. Lots of memories.  You start going through those, and you remember each one, and put a few aside to read again.
But I did give away my Tony Hillerman novels (except the first one, signed by him). I had many antique newspaper books, some writing books,  some 1920s novels, and gobs more, including National Geographic books.
Many of the recently bought and read books were easy to let go of. And I figured if many had been out in the garage for a while, they needed to go too--except for those special ones I don't have shelves for here.
What is amazing is I'm not sure you can tell we parted with any at all.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reflections on the honors of friendships and Oklahoma journalism

The overwhelmed old professor's dazed look.
It's been a week since the Oklahoma Press Association honored me with the H. Milt Phillips award and I've found myself reflecting on what made that possible. I'd written about it earlier, Walking with Giants.
I used some of those comments in my brief speech last Saturday night, somewhat stunned by the respect of a standing ovation, the comments of OPA President Robby Trammell, and the well-wishes of many friends. 
Wth OPA Prez Robby Trammell.
And since then, I've sort of been overwhelmed by the comments on social media from other press people, and from generations of current and former students at both UCO and OSU, and from emails from academic colleagues at UCO.
I wanted to write about it, without sounding too narcissistic,  and if it does, just excuse me for thanking so many people. I also wanted a digital record of this event on my blog, which is sort of a diary, a history. 
There's a humbling sense of satisfaction in having touched, and been touched, by so many wonderful people.
With friend Ray Lokey
What really sunk in  this week is that friendships, professional and personal, are treasured honors. I've been fortunate to work in both journalism and as a professor, combining two great careers. My wife Susan summed it up, I think, on Facebook: "...TC has dedicated his career to newspapers, journalism students, and the advancement of his field in the state of Oklahoma." Among those friends was Ray Lokey, publisher of the Johnston County Capital Democrat at Tishomingo.
Following is what my long time friend and fellow journalist Steve Booher wrote, which was adapted for Trammell's introduction.  Steve is kind, and embellishes the facts a little like every great storyteller,  so he actually makes me sound good.  I'm thankful.
Two older newspaper friends
"Terry and I go way back… before cell phones, before the Internet, and we both experienced the not-so-good old days when hot and cold referred to water faucets, not the method used to print newspapers. But it would be a mistake to equate Terry's decades of experience with his physical age. He's always been young at heart; that's why he relates so well with those of us in the AARP age bracket as well as those we label today's millennials.
    "My first encounter with the younger Mr. Clark came when I took a job with the Duncan Banner in the summer of 1974. I'd spent about five years honing my craft at a Kansas daily and an Oklahoma weekly, and was grateful for an opportunity to work for Harrington Wimberly, his son-in-law Al Hruby, and legendary editor Callaway Buckley at the Banner. What I didn't know was that I was replacing a young man who couldn't be replaced. Terry spent his time at the Banner developing contacts throughout southern Oklahoma; contacts that eventually led to his partnership with Donald Morrison in owning and operating the little country weekly a few miles south of Duncan, the Waurika News-Democrat.
   "It didn't take me long to realize that I couldn't clone myself into a thinner and more personable Terry Clark. But luckily, I was smart enough to stop by Waurika and get to know the guy who had endeared himself to Banner readers north-south from Rush Springs to the Red River, and east-west from tiny Loco, Okla. to Lawton. He welcomed me, not only giving me advice on who I needed to know in order to service readers in an unfamiliar territory, but also much-needed information on how to keep his former bosses at the Banner – now my employers – placated. He didn't have to do that, but those of you who have met Terry, either personally or through his column in The Publisher, know that practically nothing is off limits when it comes to his sharing of insight into the newspaper industry. Although the Banner's circulation dwarfed that at Waurika, Terry was secure in knowing that the new kid on the block stood no chance of stealing away readers from the News-Democrat.
Steve is a consummate storyteller
  "We found ourselves coming together on Friday nights in the Fall of '74. We both knew that coverage of Oklahoma high school football was essential to developing and keeping small-town newspaper subscribers. After a couple of games, I began asking Terry which game he planned to cover. Had I been a little more experienced, I would have made sure to pick an area team where Terry wouldn't be on the sidelines. But it was too much fun meeting each other 30 minutes or so before game time, so we could share our weekly newspaper gossip.
   "Today, when greeting each other at OPA functions, we still bring up the days we spent covering high school football. At some point, we'll have to discuss and correct each other about which southern Oklahoma teams – Marlow, Comanche, Rush Springs or Waurika – were playing each other the night that the temperature was near zero, the wind was howling at 30 miles per hour, 55-gallon drums of burning wood were placed along the sidelines to warm players, and one school chose to drive its bus onto the center of the frozen field and unload players just in time for the kickoff… hoping to gain an advantage.

  "Terry was one of the first to arrive at my retirement reception a couple of years ago and one of the last to leave. Always on the lookout for a story, he jumped at the chance to mention the reception cake, designed as the front page of the Cherokee newspaper, in his next Publisher column. Like you, I always turn to Terry's column when the Publisher arrives each month. We all treasure a mention from Terry about one of our headlines, a particularly well written lead, or a new design improvement. We want his acceptance, knowing that it comes without prejudice, with only the goal of striving to make us better journalists.
     "Newspapers – particularly rural Oklahoma newspapers – have a friend watching over them as they struggle from day-to-day and week-to-week to produce a quality product. Thank goodness his advice is always free. He would tell you that's about what it's worth. Not true, Terry, and by the way, I think it was Comanche vs. Marlow that cold November night in 1974."

Susan and I celebrating with H. Milt Phillips
And for the record, here's a version of what I said that night. It was briefer and not as eloquent as Steve's, Robby's or Beachy Musselman award- winner Andy Rieger's.  I'm blessed to walk with these people.
   "An ancient journalist got the greatest scoop--the one on one interview of all time.
    "The old journalist was Moses, who interviewed God. He wrote a beautiful 10-word lead, and he turned it into a little book you've probably all heard  of-- 'Genesis'.
    "In that little book he writes, 'There were giants in the earth in those days.' King James Version translation is 'people of renown, power, influence.'
    "When I look at all the people who have been honored with the Milt Phillips awards, I know there are still giants in the earth.
    I never dreamed. I'm humbled and dumbfounded to be included with this giants--I'm proud to have known and to know about 25 of them, and you, and count you as friends.
    I'm especially aware that only two other non-active newspaper people have been selected. Ben Blackstock, and the only other professor, Dr. Harry Heath, my friend and last mentor. They forgot more about journalism than I know. Wow. Giants.
    "Mark Thomas told me yesterday that I still didn't have the award. I guess I was the "presumptive" award winner. Who thought up that word? "Assumptive" would better fit our anatomy.
    "It's a long way from the Waurika News-Democrat grad school of journalism, interning by walking the sidelines in rain with huge battery back and plastic over the flash along with Steve Booher. Then I'd go back in the darkroom pushing Tri-x film for a grainy image.
    "My wife Susan jokes that I refer to you as "my people. " It occurs to me that I first attended an OPA  convention 40 years ago, when we won our first Sweepstakes award. I'm still proud to be a newspaper man, most at home here and with students. I have a great job, working with newspapers, but not having to make deadline, and working with students.
    "No honor is awarded to a single individual. There are too many to thank, but I have to mention Waurika partner Don Morrison. I thank OPA, each of you, about 3000 students, my families, my children and wife for putting up with me.
    "You made me what I am…it's your fault, as another doctor once wrote, by the name of Seuss:
    'Look what we found in the park in the dark. We will take him, home. We will call him Clark.'
    "A father in law once quipped, 'Don't park in the dark with Clark.' Too late.
    "Thank you so much. This is a treasure."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

He was not the best father, a father's lament

Dad, Jerry and I,  Manzano Mountains, 1950s
But he was the only one I had.
 Neither am I, but I have tried.
Terrence Miller Clark, 1914-1973.
I've written about him a lot, the talented artist with a wooden leg, coming up out of the dirt poor Oklahoma Depression and red clay town of Comanche, Oklahoma, the oldest of five boys, all of whom fled that town to become successes. 
He could draw before he could walk, I think, and I have so many questions I'd like answered. You never asked as a child, and if it weren't for stories from my now late Uncle Mike, I'd know a lot less.
I want to know more about hopping the freight train that cost him his leg in Tucumcari in 1933. I want to know more about his playing football. I want to know more about his art. I want to study art with him. I want to know what his favorite drink was. I want stories of his teen years and 20s. Alas.
He was incredibly talented as an artist, but he had many flaws...an awful temper, an overbearing selfishness, a wandering eye...and more.
Easter Sunday, Albuquerque
I spent a good portion of my life trying not to follow in those steps, but I too have many flaws and failures, but I've really tried to be a good father, providing for my children, being respectable, being loving. I think he had more excuses, or reasons, for his shortcomings than I do mine, but as I get older the genes and art have kicked in and I know I treasure his influence, his life. He had hard-won guts, even speaking out loudly in church in one Sunday sermon, telling a preacher, "You're wrong."
I see so many posts this weekend from wonderful people saluting their fathers, as the best fathers ever. I am touched, and envious, and guilty, I guess. 
Keep posting those photos, keep mentioning those memories. Keep telling your fathers how great they are, regardless of flaws. You are so fortunate. My wife, with parents in their '80's, says it's hard to believe my parents have been so long gone.
I am not the best father...but I am so thankful my children and grandchildren still love me. All these years later, I'm in his debt, even with his many flaws.
My brother Jerry has commented that I should attempt a family history. That stumps me in many ways, but as I looked back at the previous posts on our father on this blog, maybe I've started.
Consider these articles:

My dad had a wooden leg 
Fathers' Day in black and white 
Fathers' day musings 
Pages from beyond death 
Pages from the past 
Ghosts from the past 
A spooky view of the past 
When iris bloom 
Forbidden art from long ago 
Of time and mortality 
Sitting still, portraits in time 
100 years ago and more 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Blog readers in 148 countries

I'm always astounded that my blog attracts readers--or they stumble across it--from so many countries in the world. 
In May, readers from five new countries clicked on these pages, bringing my blog visitation register to 149 countries total. Countries and dates someone visited the blog:



5-11-South Sudan



That brings to a total of 25 countries in Africa, 12 in South America, and 11 in the Caribbean.
I love seeing these facts show up and delving into the maps, histories and flags of these countries. It's a continuing education in geography for me. And it always sparks my imagination about the readers and their lives, as well as my wanderlust to travel, especially to places like Anguilla and white sandy beaches.
Also note that the flags reflect the different histories and in these cases the colonization if these countries, French, Spanish and English.
Where I've had other readers on these continents and regions:
Africa--Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Togo, Ghana, Ethiopia,  Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Gabon, South Africa, Mali, Mauritus, Mauritania, Cameroon, Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Benin, Senegal, South Sudan,
South America--Colombia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Bolivia, Paraguay.
Caribbean--Caymans,  Sint Maartin, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, Bermuda, Anguilla