The suspense waiting through the long ceremony was enormous as individual press awards were announced for numerous newspapers before the long-awaited, coveted general excellence winners were named last Thursday evening.
Our Wake Weekly group of seven attending the 2014 N.C. Press Association Winter Institute in Chapel Hill was thrilled when the most sought after first place General Excellence award was presented to us.
The Wake Weekly competed with 19 other N.C. newspapers in Division B, for community papers with a circulation between 3,500 and 10,000.
I’ll bet there was never a happier group than this small congregation consisting of Publisher Todd Allen, his wife, Editor Clellie Allen, this scribe and publisher emeritus, my close friend Mavis Dew, staff writer/photographer David Allen, his friend Shelby O’Connell and Associate Editor David Leone.
We were three generations of the Allen family who date back to me starting The Wake Weekly in 1952.
The annual press awards have become a really big affair and this year’s event had an attendance of about 300, including both daily and community newspapers.
The Wake Weekly came home with eight other awards — two first place, two second place, and four third place awards. (See story elsewhere this week for details).
But hold on folks! This was the first time yours truly won an award for Roving Around, and it was for first place in lighter columns category.
When my daughter-in-law Clellie received notice and called me — you would have thought I had just won a million dollar jackpot by her excitement.
Well, I can’t blame her. It was the first time I had won an award for my column after writing it for (hold on) 61 years, usually every week.
Well, part of that problem came from me. I gave up on entering after not winning a long time ago, but I had a change of heart and entered last year.
I have to admit, I was thrilled to be recognized for many hours of painstaking work. However, I love writing it and I especially appreciate readers’ feedback.
Always loved bedside radios but I developed a bad habit
Do you have a favorite small bedside clock radio with an alarm? I think most of us do. My present one, a two-alarm GE, has been at my bedside for more years than I can remember. Something like 35 years is close.
As a young lad of 12, my bedside Zenith radio was my close companion and I loved the modern design, with an airplane propellor-type tuner, as much as I did the harmonious radio part. I listened to the latest ballads after going to bed. The problem was quite often I would fall asleep with the radio on and my step-father, Will Allen, reprimanded me about it to the tune of charging me a penalty of $1 for each time he found the radio had been left on all night.
This was a blow to me because I only made $1.50 a week for daily feeding and watering about 200 chickens next door.
I liked to go to the movies in town at Pitman, N.J. with my buddy Harry, on Saturday when a live vaudeville show was presented. The show had national news, a cartoon, a comedy and often a travel talk (at which we always groaned) at a cost of 50 cents. You can see how this hurt me. I didn’t even have a nickel left over to buy a box of my favorite Jujubes — not to mention there was none for my weekly saving for my first car.
But this became better as I got a little older (age 15) and secured a job at Webb & Lodge Drug Store as a soda jerk and Kodak camera booth salesman and caretaker there. Working six nights a week at a salary of $1.50 per night garnered me $9 per week — quite a boost from the $1.50 per week, and I was happy with my job.
The only hard part of that stint was remembering what drink regular customers always got. They would plop down on a stool at the soda fountain counter and instead of telling me what they wanted, would stare straight at me and if I didn’t catch on and call out their drink, they would say, “You know what I get!”
I had to remember or suffer the embarrassing consequences of standing there until he told me the special drink while others were waiting to be served and becoming impatient.
It was part of growing up and becoming a man.
—Comments or suggestions? Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, invites your input at robertwallen29@ gmail.com or 919-556-3059.