My grandmother knew him well. His name was Frank Smith and he lived up the street only a few doors away from her.
She loved to sit on her front porch and await his visit, and even have a little chat with him when he dropped her mail in the box. I would perch on her big old porch swing and keep her company as she watched for his arrival.
Mail brought letters from her grown children who lived in Newnan and Birmingham, the church bulletin, her bills, of course. And once a week it brought the North Georgia Tribune.
That was a much anticipated event and she couldn’t wait to be able to see who was doing what, who had died and who was visiting whom.
In those long-ago and mostly forgotten days before the Internet and emails and all the other ways we now stay in touch, the local newspaper, the telephone, the radio and hand-written letters were the ways we stayed in touch. And most people who lived out of town rarely dialed long distance because it was too expensive. Communication back then was both simpler and more complicated.
The local newspaper was a portal onto the world.
The owners of the newspaper, Ralph Owen and his brother, Buster, were known for their wit and keen powers of observation, and the two wrote a front page column that everyone eagerly awaited.
The obituaries also ran on the front page, and they were just as eagerly anticipated.
Back then it seemed everyone knew everyone, and there was the one favorite column in the paper called Did You Know which told who visited for Sunday dinner, or who had weekend guests or whose grandchildren were in town for a visit.
People from all the little communities across the county would send in their snippets, from Free Home to Woodstock to Waleska. Some communities even had correspondents who gathered the news for their neighbors and sent it in.
There were few major news happenings in the county back then, and there were plenty of stories about Kiwanis meetings and garden clubs and sports events to fill up the front page. And there was enough state and national news mixed in to keep it interesting. Whatever was going on, you knew you could read about it in the North Georgia Tribune.
When I was in college the Owens decided to sell the newspaper and folks around town like my grandmother were worried about what that might mean.
They were scared that some outside operation might come in and change things so that we wouldn’t get to find out what was actually happening right here in Cherokee County.
But our luck held, and Mr. Otis Brumby, owner of the Marietta Daily Journal in nearby Cobb County, purchased the newspaper.
As the town watched with bated breath, Mr. Brumby did what no one had dared hope, he offered a commitment to strengthen the newspaper and make it even more local than before.
The newspaper was renamed the Cherokee Tribune, publisher Neely Young and his family moved to town to run the Tribune and a new era for journalism kicked off in the community.
In the first issue the Tribune announced plans to keep the focus on Cherokee County, to report on what mattered most to those who lived here, and the new name was given as proof of the plan.
For 40 years the Brumbys have kept their commitment to our county to provide a local newspaper where people can find out what is happening right here where we live and raise our families.
From that first issue that featured Cherokee High cheerleader Taryn Teague and football captain Art Cook on the cover, right up until today, the newspaper always reflects the people and organizations that make us who we are.
The company also hired local residents as often as they could to report the news, take photos and serve as editors.
Cherokee County has a long lineage of newspapers, and those publications were the forerunners of what has become the Cherokee Tribune today. The North Georgia Tribune had published for 40 years before becoming the Tribune and prior to that, way back to the 1870s the Cherokee Advance was in publication before becoming the Tribune.
These days Mr. Brumby’s son, Otis Brumby III, is heading up the newspaper and keeping it on course to be a community publication.
He is just as dedicated as ever to keeping our local newspaper strong, and as much as I to remember the past, I am looking forward to what the future has in store for the Cherokee Tribune and Cherokee County.