"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs 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 column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Another Navy veteran who influenced me

Dr. Ray Tassin, who founded the journalism department at what is now UCO, was my reporting teacher years ago. He served for years as chair until health and retirement forced changes. Ironically, I returned to chair that same department, But that's another story.
Tassin, was well,"Tassin," as graduates and friends would say. A WWII Navy vet, he'd laugh about shooting Japanese ships out of the water. He always had change in his pocket which he constantly jangled, while lecturing. He wrote some fiction, which as an undergraduate I read. An English major at the time, before I repented, I was taking journalism to qualify my teaching certificate, but he and Reba Collins changed my direction in life, though it would take years to come into journalism as a career. (I earned only a "B" in Tassin's class.)
But Tassin had the guts and gumption not to care much about what others thought of him. Part of that came from having his son die before him. I think that teaches you what isn't important, and much of higher education's pretentiousness isn't important. Tassin had no patience with it, and managed to alienate a lot of people on campus. He didn't care. There was no political correctness in him. He was an unabashed conservative and constantly criticized and dug at liberals. One I remember, said in public, was something like, "I'm not a liberal. I know who my parents are." Still one of his best friends was colleague Dennie Hall, an unabashed liberal. I'm so glad there are still such characters as Tassin in this world. We need more of them.
All of it was punctuated with profanity. In fact, I think the saying," Cuss like a sailor," may have been invented because of Tassin. One of the last times  I saw him in his wood refinishing shop, I asked him how he was doing. "Too old to do almost anything but cuss," he said. 
The last time I saw him was at the 40th anniversary of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, in April 2011 where we moved it into new quarters and rededicated it. I'm so pleased he could see how far it had come. He cut the ribbon.
 Ironically, I now direct the outfit. Forty years earlier he had founded it. Later that year, he died. His funeral  in Memorial Park Cemetery not far from here, was with military honors. The US Navy crest was on his casket.
  Home is the sailor, home from the sea. A Memorial Day salute, veteran!
Ray Tassin, in brown, cutting the ribbon at the Journalism Hall of Fame, with Dennie Hall in dark sport coat assisting, along
 with the other inductees , April 2011. shortly before his death



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