Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Adding more names to the list of dinner invites

I’ve been wanting to write about why socks don’t get darned any more if they have holes in the toes, but I think I’d better dispense with some pressing business first.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned four people I would like to have dinner with – not all at once, of course. I have since given the subject additional thought, and came up with dozens of other names, but except for two of them, they are all comedians.

Nothing wrong with that. I love comedy. But in addition to my original four – Frank Sinatra, Steve Allen, William F. Buckley Jr. and Duke Ellington – I added only two names of people who are not comics.

They are Edward R. Murrow and Stan Musial – an unlikely pairing, but I deeply believe in disparity when it suits my purpose. My purpose here, of course, is to fill 22 inches of space as measured by the computer, not by your ruler, in case you choose to whip it out and apply it to this page. But I digress.

Several readers responded to my thoughts as a challenge and came up with lists of their own of folks they would like, if presented with the opportunity, to dine with.

I have sifted through these comments, eliminated the ones that included fanciful dinner partners, such as Snow White, Cinderella and the Wild Man of Borneo, and have elected two “entries” as co-winners.

I approached the subject with some trepidation, not to mention uncertainty, because nobody really “entered” anything resembling a contest, and the co-winners didn’t really win anything except getting their names in the paper.

But they are good people, solid citizens, so they deserve to have their dining partners of preference revealed. They are, in no particular order, Agnes Harper and Gene Gaster. They live in Mentor and Madison, respectively.

Agnes, during her distinguished career in education, was one the prime news sources of David Jones when he patrolled the education beat for the paper for many years.

But I have known her well also, and I found her choices to be interesting. Well, two of them, anyway.

At No. 1 she chose Eleanor Garfield, erstwhile mayor of Mentor Village. “I believe that she had a very interesting life,” Agnes wrote. “And she accomplished so much, though she had to defend the name of Garfield at times.”

At No. 2 she placed St. John, because “I dearly love his book in the Bible. It is so full of love. And I feel that that is what our world needs so much of today.”

Her third choice was me, but although I feel I don’t deserve the honor, her logic made sense. She said this column often takes her back to the days when she was deeply involved in education and politics, and I helped her on occasion with rumblings about what was going on in the Mentor Exempted School System.

OK. It’s flattering, and I guess I can accept it.

Gene Gaster does some writing in Madison. I have a copy of his latest book, “Finders Keepers,” and look forward to becoming immersed in it.

At No. 1 he picks Thomas Edison. “I have five U.S. patents,” Gene wrote, “and Thomas Edison stands out as the man I would choose as No. 1 dinner choice.”

His next choice is Irving Berlin, because “I love music and play the guitar. He wrote so many songs I love to play, including ‘White Christmas.’ I debated this one because I wanted to list Les Paul, a fabulous guitarist.”

Finally, he picked Mark Twain because “I love writing.”

Just as I did, Gene slipped in a fourth choice.

“My all-time favorite movie is  ‘Casablanca,’ he wrote, “And as a young man I thought I was in love with Ingrid Bergman, so she would be my fourth choice.”

I can understand that. The lady of the house and I saw her just the other night in a great Hitchcock film, “Notorious,” and she was terrific. So were Cary Grant and Claude Rains.

Of course, different people have different tastes. I at one time had a boyhood crush on Audrey Hepburn, not a bad looker herself. But I was in the Army at Fort Hood, Texas, at the time, so I never had an opportunity to give her a call.

Who knows, I could have invited her to a football game between the Fort Hood Tankers and the Fort Sill Cannoneers.

But I don’t even know if she cared about football. She probably never heard of our star running back, Johnny Champion, who played for the Washington Redskins before he got drafted.

We lived in the same barracks. He has probably never forgotten how loud I snored.


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