Way back when I was pondering my direction in life (this was in college, not last week), I found a lot of ways to spend my spare time.
In addition to writing groundbreaking stories for the Red and Black, the University of Georgia student newspaper (perhaps you read some of those stories? Like that stunning review of an Ozzy Osborne concert?), I worked as a resident assistant, played on the school's Ultimate Frisbee team and on my residence hall's softball, bowling and football teams and spent time running my motorcycle into the sides of cars. (Well, one car, just once, but it really hurt.)
Not much time left in there for studying. So until I got into my major courses - easy stuff like journalism law and Southern literature - my grades were pretty weak. I didn't fail anything, mind you; I just muddled along with mid-C's.
Little did I realize that I was presidential material.
Just over a week ago, the Boston Globe finally managed to get hold of John Kerry's college transcripts. The paper points out that during Kerry's presidential challenge of George W. Bush, Kerry "was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex," while Bush "was the populist who mangled his sentences."
Lo and behold, it turns out Bush got better grades at Yale than Kerry. Kerry racked up four D's, while Bush got just one. And though each student's grades were worse in their freshman years and improved later, the grading system changed for Bush's class that graduated two years after Kerry - so Bush's final 77 actually would have been higher than Kerry's final 76.
This belated revelation from the Globe is unlikely to put to rest the liberal myth of idiot Bush and genius Kerry. At least I feel a little better knowing I could hang with them on grade-point average, even without the head start of private prep schools.
No, UGA isn't Yale - but it was founded by Abraham Baldwin, a Yale graduate. So I like to think it's the next step in Yale's evolution, with students smart enough to be in the South. And smart enough to know there are better things to do in Athens than just study.
Goodbye, Dr. Agee
Speaking of UGA, I was saddened this past week to hear of the death of Warren Agee, dean emeritus of the Grady College of Jouralism and Mass Communication at Georgia.
Dr. Agee's class was generally a journalism student's first stop in J-school, and an intimidating one, at that. Not that Dr. Agee was intimidating, mind you; he was a very gentle soul. But his Journalism 101 class was in an auditorium with hundreds of students.
Even so, Dr. Agee easily made connections with any students who sought him out. He was incredibly patient and kind, and helped lay the educational foundation for what has become my career.
He made a difference at the J-school. And me.
It was a shock to learn this past week of the death of Bryant Thomas, a boyhood friend who has lived for the past several years in Graham, N.C.
Thomas, son of Talmadge and Peggy Thomas, was just two years older than me, and in the past few years had suffered complications from hepatitis. Apparently those complications are what suddenly brought the big man down.
Though Thomas's father passed away a few years ago, Miss Peggy - who was my bus driver when we were kids - is still around, as is his brother, Danny, and sisters Charlotte and Ann, and all of them still live here.
It seems like just yesterday that Bryant and I were playing "Red Rover" during vacation Bible school, and with the snap of a finger that long-ago childhood and Bryant are both gone.
God bless his family, and may God rest his soul.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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