Bits of Stone for Sunday, March 31
By Dean Stone | (email@example.com)
Messages appreciated on Hall of Fame selection but I’m not newsmaker
While I deeply appreciate the messages of congratulation, my role remains that of a reporter/editor, not a newsmaker.
I was not even aware of the first story or editorial about my selection as a member of the initial class of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame in The Daily Times until I picked up my copy of The Times.
Also, I can assure you that had I been involved in some crime, I would have received the same treatment as any reader. That is standing procedure. Don’t ask, just treat employees like any other resident and that is the way it should be.
I have been blessed with a long life, a wonderful family and have initiated a lot of programs which I felt were beneficial for the entire county but none for my own benefit, gain or public recognition.
While we are involved in personal matters, some have asked why I haven’t gone on to “bigger” or “better” things. Over the years I have had opportunities to move to larger markets in other states, but to me there is nothing better, bigger or more important than Blount County, where I was born and raised. We are very fortunate to have had a good family-owned newspaper here since 1883. I have visited all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries and I have not seen anything which would attract me away from Blount County and our Smokies.
Over the years the owners have kept The Times updated in equipment and staffed with capable employees, always comparable to or above other communities of our size. A number of area residents have found The Times as a starting place to go to larger responsibilities in journalism and other fields of endeavor.
Last week was an important date in Blount girls basketball history
For the benefit of younger readers, girls basketball has always been strong in Blount County. The early strong teams in the 1930s were those coached by John Arthur “J.D.” Davis at Everett.
In those days, in order to not “overtax” the girls, they played on a court divided into three sections with each team limited to two players in each section: two forwards, two centers and two guards. Of course it changed to two sections and now is full court.
Very few teams made it to the state tournaments but over the years, with the establishment of various divisions, it became easier.
When there were no classifications and the smallest schools competed with the largest for the state championship, Victor Allen’s Friendsville boys finished second in the state; in the spring of 1959, coach Vernon Osborne’s Alcoa boys and a few days later coach Galen Johnson’s Porter girls brought home to Blount County the first state championship trophies.
Long before UT ever heard of the beloved Pat Summitt, Blount County was a hotbed of girls basketball and I anticipated that some day it was likely two Blount teams would play for the state title. At the time I was both managing editor and sports editor but because of managing editor duties could not attend state tournaments.
Nevertheless, I had stated publicly that if two Blount teams ever played in the state finals I would go, come hail or high water. Well, it happened 50 years ago this past Saturday on March 23, 1950.
Coach A.J. Wilson’s Walland girls and coach Johnson’s Porter girls were in the finals. But I had a higher calling that night. My son, Neal, was being born at Blount Memorial Hospital. I stayed home where I belonged.
Porter won the championship, 36-25, having defeated Walland in five of six games that season. Walland was state runner-up in a usually highly competitive game.
That is apparently the only time two teams from the same county battled for the state championship.
Other outstanding local girls basketball coaches of the period included Bob Berrong at Everett, Marvin Boring and Bill Wallace at Friendsville and William Blount, J. Fred Sentell at Townsend and Friendsville, Tom “Honk” Boyd at Townsend and Everett.
Of course, the above means my son Neal had his 50th birthday this past March 23
Many readers realize my red cap has become my trademark. That wasn’t planned.
I have a continuing problem with growths other than hair on my scalp. Several have been a type of skin malignancy and had to be removed. It also means I need to keep my head out of the sun, so I wear the cap most of the time, even indoors.
I have learned that since I am a veteran it is correct for me to salute instead of removing my cap during the national anthem. I have also learned to feel comfortably respectful by placing my hand over my heart without removing my cap during a prayer, even indoors.
In the course of time, it has been suggested that I should give Neal an identical red cap. These are not just any red cap. The top is of six pie-shaped leather panels, the exact same type “newsboy” cap which young men wore a century ago when selling newspapers on the busy streets of New York and Chicago.
Jones Media Human Resources Director Jo Ann Hopson, who had found the one being worn, was able to locate another which I gave Neal for his 50th birthday. Under undue pressure, I share the requested photograph and the story.
Dean Stone is editor of The Times.