— THE COURIER —  The little paper that keeps on keeping on

From left, Linda Clark, Larry Hancock and Jim Clark started the Lee County Courier on Oct. 14, 1992.

Where were you in 1968?

I was still living in Port Huron, Mich. I was 12. Lyndon Johnson was president. Civil rights and the Vietnam war were in the news. The space race had begun in earnest. I was a NASA junkie.

Whenever asked at school, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was always “an astronaut.”

My only qualification was, with the help of my parents, Floyd and Ida Clark, I had a scrapbook about all the space missions going all the way back to March 1926 when Robert Goddard, then living in Massachusetts, launched the world's first liquid-fueled rocket.

In 1969, I moved to Mississippi when my father transfered with the Mueller Brass Company to Fulton. Not really knowing anyone, I started roaming the country side with fellow Mueller transfer Randy Schmidt. We started finding fossils, arrowheads and the like.

In my mind, I was now torn between if I was going to become an astronaut or a world class archeologist.

As I moved through junior high and high school, I started doodling in notebooks, filling page after page with drawings, cartoons and writing about characters, I made up, like Mike Sean. “Mike” was from Mike Connors, who was Mannix and “Sean” was from Sean Connery who was James Bond.

When I entered IJC (now ICC) I found out I wasn’t smart enough, or didn’t have the desire to study enough, to become either an astronaut or a world class archeologist. My mother suggested advertising because of the doodling.

Of course, you don’t want to do anything your parents suggest when you’re 19 and know everything. But one day I found myself taking advertising, retailing, marketing, salesmanship, psychology and the like. One of my college advisors Paul Johnson (not the tennis coach) got me a job working afternoons at the Daily Journal.

It was there I met another mentor, George A. McLean. When George met me, he told me something like “If I can help you, my door is always open.”

I actually worked with Ted Johnson, Glen Weeks and Joe Westmoreland, but since I was a teenager and didn’t know better, usually late in the evenings I would stop by George’s office and talk crazy ideas.

At the newspaper, I also met Brad Bullock, who worked for TV9 and would bring in artwork to be PMTed (photo mechanical transfer). We became friends and he got me a job as the assistant art director at the television station.

Later I became friends with the owner, Frank Spain, who eventually sent me to their sister station, TV 24 as the art director.

I lost my way, came back home to Fulton in the early 1980s and went to work in the darkroom at The Itawamba County Times.

I moved up the ladder quickly and became sales manager. Along the way I met my soulmate Linda, and we raised our daughter Amy, back in Fulton where my journey had begun.

As I began selling outside of Itawamba County, I met Leon Malone who ran the Hancock Fabrics stores, and through him Larry Hancock, who owned Warehouse Liquidators. Larry and I cemented our friendship over a Jimmy Buffett concert and became business partners when we started The Lee County Courier on Oct. 14, 1992.

So, Lord willing, this little paper will start its 29th year in October. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I’m usually the only one in the office. Linda helps me a lot from home with everything from setting copy, keeping up with our subscription base and printing out advertising bills at the end of the month.

So if you come by the office and I’m not there, I’m sorry, because occasionally I’m out researching history, following a crime or selling advertising.

Larry is still our business partner and friend. He has always been there when we needed him and remains committed to The Courier today. Many, who subscribed in 1992, are still with us, as are most of our advertisers, who started with us nearly three decades ago.

Our office has always been at the same location — 303 West Main Street. We’ve had seven different landlords, and since 1992, too many to remember business neighbors, who have come and gone, making us the only renter left since 1992.

R.J. Wilemon was the original owner of the property, and he broke up the property according to our needs and wishes.

So thanks for letting my third career choice come true.

Most importantly I thank the good Lord for staying with me, when I certainly didn’t deserve it.

P.S. With these current conditions, coronavirus, etc., email is still the best way to reach me — courierL@bellsouth.net

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