Monday, January 21, 2019

Telling storiesThis

One of my favorite radio shows when I was a kid was Paul Harvey. He knew how to find good stories and how to tell ‘em. I’ve learned, there are stories all around us if we take the time to look and listen.
Last summer when the mercury had very little room at the top of the thermometer, Jilda and I needed a few groceries and reprieve from the heat, so we headed to Walmart.  
The tiara lady smiled and greeted us as we walked in. She’s been greeting customers for years. She always makes me smile, even when I don’t feel like it.
As we strolled around the store, Jilda said, “A story about the Tiara Lady would be a good story for the paper.” On the way out, I stepped over and asked the tiara lady if she would consider letting me interview her for the Mountain Eagle. She wasn’t sure anyone would want to read about her story, but she agreed. 
We’d always called her the tiara lady because every time you saw her, she was wearing a tiara to greet customers. Her name is Marlene Williams Young.
I made an appointment with her for a few days later and took my camera. We spent a few minutes talking. She told me some great stories, and I snapped a few tiara photos.
The story appeared in the paper in July and went viral. It was shared over 12,00 times on Facebook and thousands of people read her story.
The CEO of Walmart sent Young a private message on Facebook thanking her for taking such good care of Walmart customers.
Someone from People of Alabama saw my article and contacted her about doing a segment. Since the release of that clip, over a million people have viewed her story. People have asked for her autograph. I’m guessing this story changed her life.
The same month I interviewed the tiara lady, I came across another story idea while driving home. A painted rock in the yard of an older gentleman piqued my curiosity. I’d seen the rock a hundred times, but that day I SAW it. 
Glancing into the yard, I saw the man sitting in the shade with his dogs at his feet. I flipped on my blinker and turned into his drive.
When I asked if he would consider letting me do an interview, he said, “Sure, sit down a spell.” We talked for over an hour. 
His name was Drennen Baggett, and he was 91 years old. He told me he had Native American blood flowing through his veins. Baggett had led a colorful life. 
When I asked him about the painted rock in his yard, he told me the story.
One day while sitting in his shady resting place, he looked at the rock from a distance and thought, “I could paint me an Indian chief with his war bonnet on that rock,” Baggett said.  He went to Walmart and bought enough paint to do the job.  
Baggett had defied death a number of times, but he fell ill not long after the story appeared in the paper.
His daughter told me that he had framed the article that ran in the paper and kept it by his bed. I got word that Mr. Baggett died on December 30. 
I know I’m not Paul Harvey, but I thankful I have an opportunity to tell the stories of some amazing people.

This was the sky tonight as we headed to yoga.


  1. Like a good photographer, it takes a certain "eye" to spot an interesting personal story.

  2. I am so glad that you were able to tell Mr Baggett's story - and that he appreciated it.
    We NEED storytellers.

  3. Like a good photographer,

  4. I bet you could find some good stories at Tim Horton from the regular patrons. I don't go to Tim Horton here but I know a lot of retired people meet there every morning to shoot the breeze, especially retired men who worked together. They go there to reminisce.

    You do have a keen eye and ear so I'm sore there's an endless supply of good stories out there.

    I'm glad that you could make a difference in that gentleman's life even if it didn't go viral.
    Everyone deserves a moment of fame.

    Good luck in your next story.
    Hugs, Julia

  5. Sorry for the typo.

  6. The stories are there. They are just waiting for someone astute enough to recognize and share them.

  7. I miss Paul Harvey! Thank you for celebrating the 'extra' in ordinary people!

  8. What a great story and the picture you chose just put the exclamation point to it. You done good, we enjoyed the story to the Tiera Lady and this one is neat. I too, loved Paul Harvey and any good story teller. You fit. ;-)

  9. Anonymous9:38 PM

    You're a good storyteller with both your camera & your keyboard!!

  10. Paul Harvey was great and I loved his Rest of the story. I love the story of the Tiara lady and this old made his day by not only running an article about him but taking the time to stop and have a chat. Many older people go unnoticed


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