Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 20, 2015

Are We There Yet?

Jay Edwards

I found a handwritten note recently you might find amusing. It was written to my mom, Jean, and dated May 28, 2010.

You will recognize the name of the writer of those few slightly shaky, but very legible paragraphs. He was 87 when he sat down to compose, clearly still possessing a mind of wit and charm, and a heart that cared. I don’t believe he would have minded me sharing.

It goes as follows:

May 28, 2010

Jean Edwards:

At lunch today with Ellis Arnold, EVP, Hendrix, I was reminded of meeting your father at Henderson in 1941. As a freshman pledge in the college fraternity, I was invited to have a beer and serenade the girls dormitory.

I did. 

Was called to Dr. Ellis’ office with other culprits the next morning. Dr. Ellis asked me if I was in the serenade. “Yes,” I answered. 

“Did you have a beer?” 

“Yes,” I answered.

“More than one?” 

“No sir.”

Then he paused a moment and asked, “Shall I call your mother?”

“Please don’t,” I responded. 

He didn’t.

The next time I saw your father was September 1953 in the breakfast room of the Dempsey Hotel in Macon, Ga. I was an attorney with the trial section, Tax Division, U.S. Dept. of Justice, in town to try a case in U.S. District Court.

As I sat down, across the room arose this distinguished elder gentleman – Matt Ellis. He extended his hand with the greeting, “William, I haven’t seen you since you were in my office at Henderson for serenading the girls dorm!”

What a leader he was!!

Bill Bowen

P.S. I tried to phone you at 1:30 p.m.

Treasures like this make me grateful mom never threw anything away. And a reminder of the dying art of the handwritten note, which I hope is but a short-term trend. 


A more recent note came from a little 11-year-old girl in Philadelphia to a boy in her class, which read, “Do you like me?” with two check boxes underneath the question for “Yes” and “No.”

The boy didn’t check either box, and wrote the following on the note as a reason: 

“I don’t know. I don’t know myself yet. Plus, I’m under a lot of stress at home so I can’t tell.

“P.S. You don’t know yourself until you’re 18.”


More romance. I mentioned last week about being a Harold Robbins fan, during the days of high school hormones, but how the guidance counselor at Catholic thought it was not great literature. (I wonder if he still has my copy of “The Betsy.”) 

My favorite book by Robbins was “The Carpetbaggers.” In the movie version, sultry Carol Baker played Rina Marlowe. It was released in 1964. 

Later that same year, a Masai chieftain, who must have seen the movie, offered to buy Baker for 150 cows, 200 goats, and $750 cash. This was impressive because they usually only had to fork up about $200 and 12 cows for a wife in those days.

But you might remember in the “Odyssey,” the slave girl Euryclea was bought by Laertes for 20 oxen, so it seems the market has remained fairly stable throughout the years. 


The end for William Palmer came on the gallows in 1856. He was to be hanged for poisoning his best friend. As he stepped out from the wooden platform onto the shaky trap door, he looked back nervously at the executioner and asked, “Are you sure it’s safe?”

Sources: The Best Worst and Most Unusual by Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler; and Fox News

Jay Edwards is editor-in-chief of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist. Contact him at jedwards@dailydata.com.