Friends with Words

Five local writers and one Friends of Literacy student were honored at the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame luncheon on Thursday at the Lighthouse Knoxville. The 2014 Friends of Literacy East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame inductees are:

Each of the winners prepared some remarks. Here is the text of my speech. I did throw in an ad-lib or two on the fly.

Thank you to the Friends of Literacy. It is an incredible honor to be included with the other great writers here today and with all the inductees from previous years.

I believe that good writers must first be voracious readers. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that embraced reading. My father was a reporter for United Press International and later he wrote as a public relations executive. My mother was a schoolteacher who taught second grade.

As a child, I was a regular at the Crestwood Library in Yonkers, New York. I was nominated for this honor by one of the librarians who knew me as a child and I’m thrilled that Ms. Nancy Waters traveled from New York to be here today for the ceremony.

My most loyal readers are also my most loyal proofreaders. My wife and kids are always the first to spot a typo. Not a week goes by without me getting an email or text that says, “Dad you spelled this word wrong.” I’ve learned to use the WordPress smartphone app so I can fix my mistakes on the go.

I appreciate my friends who let me share their stories online. I like to write a little bit about being Catholic, a little bit about food, a little bit about my fig tree, a little bit about comedy improv, and a lot about the Body Farm. Sometimes I write about movies or TV shows that I like but mostly the blog is about the community that I love and call home.

My “blogfather” is here today. Back in 2005, blogging was social media. Twitter and Facebook weren’t words that we use everyday. I thank Rich Hailey for helping me get my blog started and for inviting me to various blogger gatherings around town.

You may have noticed that I also get the honor of presenting an award today to David Lauver. After the winners were notified in July, the station that was the radio sponsor of this event last year dropped out due to a format change. Melissa Nance contacted me and asked if I had any suggestions. I did. I approached two of our department heads, Rich Bailey and Bruce Patrick, who are here today. They agreed to take on this event as the radio sponsor and I’m delighted that they did.

A special thanks goes to my wife Jere, who has patiently and lovingly tolerated my blogging hobby for over nine years. She has waited for me to photograph her food before she can eat, she has taken countless pictures of me in various places for the blog, and she has interrupted our trips so we can seek out a WiFi connection for me to upload some pictures or a blog post. I can think of a recent example where we pulled off I-81 to get to a McDonald’s just before it closed at midnight and another time when we sat in our car next to a Panera Bread that had closed but left its WiFi network turned on.

Thank you again for this great honor and thank you to the Friends of Literacy for their mission which proves that it’s never too late to start and that everyone can get a second chance.

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