Thursday of Lent 3

Jeremiah 10:11-2

The Managing Editor

I don’t know if he drew the caricature of himself, or if that pen and ink sketch of his face was the work of another, but the managing editor of the Bonham Daily Favorite had a column that began above the fold and took up the left column of the front page. His daily feature was called “Odds and Ends,” in which he made observations on life in our small town. In the same column, he might mention something he overheard at the donut shop, say something sweet about the love of his life, and talk about the birds at his backyard feeder. As a nine-year-old, I began mowing lawns, and I found out he lived only three streets south of ours. I never mowed his lawn, but I did look into his backyard to see if the birds were gathered there as he had described. My Dad taught me to read three papers every day, two from Dallas and ours.

The summer I was hanging out at the Chamber of Commerce calling parents to bring back their sons’ baseball uniforms at the end of the season, Bob mentioned in his column that I already looked forward to break time every day. He might drop in the Chamber to see what was happening. Annette, the secretary at the Chamber, would make a run to the donut shop while I answered the phone. My parents got a kick out of the kid getting mentioned in “Odds and Ends” and clipped it to send to my favorite aunt, Caroline, in Springfield PA.

My parents were not Bonham natives. Mama would always be “Miz Zooomwalt,” that Yankee lady, which caused Mom to say, “It’s Zumwalt” (rhyming the first syllable with hum). Her mother born in Germany would visit every other summer, so that made Mama “different.” When Dad would take around our own Papa Joe, our Sicilian-born step-grandfather, folks realized the Zumwalts were very exotic folks. Probably the only thing that saved us was Daddy belonged to First Baptist for 15 years.

The managing editor did just that. He managed the details of local interest, but the publisher oversaw the policy that kept the folks with deeper pockets happy. I remember attending the Kiwanis Club lunch with my Dad one day. The guest speaker must have been in state politics. He said, “I’m glad to be here and not in Dallas today. They have Republicans there.” Somebody piped up, “We had one of those here once, and when he died, we buried him outside of town.” Big laughter all around. They were conservative to a man, but Mr. Sam Rayburn was a Democrat, and that was really all anybody had to say. During Watergate, my girlfriend’s adopted aunt said, “If you had lived through the Depression like we did, you would never vote Republican.” And that’s the way it was in Bonham, as Cronkite might have said.

While the publisher was in Rotary and hung out with the professionals and business owners, the managing editor was a man of the people. His comments sometimes seemed a bit inane especially when the world around us was going crazy in the 1960s, but the managing editor had a gentle touch. His wife was “the Mrs,” and it was obvious they were crazy about each other after all the years together. When our relatives would visit, they got the biggest kick out of reading the Favorite and his “Odds and Ends.” He captured the rhythms of small town Texas, daily life to the T.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the managing editor and all those who love people and your simplest gifts which cost nothing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Put twenty-three pennies, nickels, or dimes in a bowl or box to feed the poor (Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard).

Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, NC

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.