[Added, 1:30 pm April 8: Video from 2007 event in which Jones tells stories about Old-Nashville banking rivalries]
My first stint at the Banner was from 1949 to 1956.
My mentor, writing coach and drill sergeant was Charlie Moss, the legendary Banner editor who pushed several generations of would-be reporters into becoming seasoned journalists.
Here was the Moss style:
One day I was summoned to his office, always a nerve-wracking experience, and Boss Moss had on his desk a 10-page story I had written about a complicated battle over one of the new TV licenses being issued in Nashville.
"Son,'' Moss growled, "what the hell does this say,'' waving my copy.
"Well, Mr. Moss, here's what the situation is,'' which I explained in just a few minutes.
"Son,'' Moss said, handing me back my copy, "get your ass back to your desk and tell your typewriter what you just told me. The readers can understand that!''
When I came back to the Banner a decade ago, and 31 years after leaving, things were, well, quite different.
The blue haze hanging over the newsroom generated by the standard-issue ashtrays on every desk was gone. Paper had been largely replaced by computer screens, the paste pots were gone as was the hot metal type.
And it was god-awful quiet! No rattle of half a hundred Royal manual typewriters clacking out hot stories, no battery of wire machines setting off a chorus of bells when a bulletin or flash was moving, no editors yelling "Boy, copy!'' when a story was ready to move. (They really said that; political correctness hadn't been invented.)
So while it was different, it was a heady experience for me to sit in the office where Charlie Moss sat, to use his desk and to remember him with great love.
For a while I was focused on the difference between the wild and woolly '40s and '50s, replete with practical jokes and great scoops, and today's milder newsroom atmosphere.
But then my senses got straight and I suddenly realized that while many things were different, the Banner staff was still something special. They knew that they were just a little bit better than anyone else, that they had justifiable pride in their professional abilities and that they could always hold their heads high.
They are doing that today, and I'm proud of them for it. The Banner family is, always was and always will be special!
This is the last piece of copy that will be written on my Royal manual typewriter, a vanishing piece of news equipment.
Readers may not know exactly what this ending means, but journalists everywhere will know how heavy my heart is as I strike these characters:
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS