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Tucker: Waylon’s advice hits the mark

Posted: May 28, 2015 8:15 a.m.
Updated: May 29, 2015 1:00 a.m.

My friend Waylon Fortenberry of Chesterfield County called me, all hot and bothered, about the big outlaw gang biker shootout a couple weeks ago in Waco, Texas.

“Those guys came looking for trouble, and they found it,” he said of the incident, in which nine people were killed and dozens of others injured. “Next time that situation presents itself, the cops should just cordon off the area and let them all kill each other.”

“I’m sure there are lots of people who would agree with you,” I told Waylon.

But that wasn’t all he wanted to talk about.

“Glenn,” he asked, “how long have you been writing your column?”

“Well, I started in 1972, so I guess that makes 43 years. Doesn’t seem like it, though.”

“And when you left the Chronicle-Independent to go work in Maine, didn’t you tell me you planned to keep writing the column for a year or two, just to give you a little time to transition out of the newspaper business?”

“I guess I did.”

“And how long has that been?”

“It’s been … well, it’s been 18 years now. Holy smoke.”

For years I’ve told you about Waylon and some of his unusual ideas; you know from those discussions that he’s no Socrates. He’s never been known for laying down rational arguments.

But he said something more thoughtful than usual, a remark I wasn’t expecting: “Glenn, when you’ve been doing something for a long time, sometimes it’s better to stop  before you get really stale at it. You know what I mean?”

“OK, I’ll  give that some thought,” I said to Waylon. To tell you the truth, I was in a little bit of a snit about his sudden advice to me.

But I did give it some thought. Slept on it, in fact. And he is right.

So this will be the last time you and I regularly share this space on Fridays.

For more than four decades I’ve sat down -- years ago on a green Royal manual typewriter, now in 2015 using the latest technology -- and faced my weekly deadline.

Sometimes it’s been easy. Other weeks, it’s been difficult; you know that, for sure, because over the years you’ve had to suffer through some real snoozers.

Over time, I came to think of this as a conversation rather than a column.        

I felt as if we were sitting down over a cup of coffee, or pausing for a few minutes on a park bench, just to share a few minutes together, although some of you might be thinking,  “Hey, he was the one doing all the talking.”    

I plead guilty to that.

Many of you are no doubt thinking,  “It’s about time he stopped.”

OK. Fair enough.

But I’m hedging my bet. Though I’m hanging it up,  you might not be rid of me forever.

For newspapermen -- and I’m an old-school guy -- black ink on white paper is in some ways a narcotic.

I might find I’m addicted; that I simply can’t succeed at going cold turkey.

So in a year or so, you might hear from me periodically. Not every Friday, as we’ve talked for so many years, but once in awhile.

I know, I know. Many of you are saying, “Who cares?”

But for those of you who do, I appreciate your sharing this Friday conversation with me for so long. Maybe at some point in the future, we’ll talk again. Black ink on white paper.

And thanks for listening. 

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