Emptying out the reporter’s notebook

Published 8:00 am Sunday, April 16, 2023

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Boxes of notebooks are an occupational hazard for a journalist.

Moving back to Mississippi from Alabama, I discovered notes from 20 years prior; interviews with everyday folks and some pretty impressive leaders; random story ideas; and lots of scribbles and partial notes.

Stacy Graning

Anyone who asks “show us what’s in your bag” will find at least three notebooks – two partially filled and one fresh, clean one waiting to be broken in. Those easy-to-spot reporter’s notebooks are stashed in the console of my car; in my overnight bag for trips; and in the junk drawer at home that once held the ubiquitous phone book. The fancier waterproof versions have even made appearances over the years in Christmas stockings and birthday boxes, just for fun.

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About once a month I tackle the stack on my desk – cataloging and noting important things to remember, filing them away. It never fails that I stumble upon notes that are worth sharing, and since this was a week for cleaning out the notebooks, here’s some items that piqued my interest and, I hope, will pique yours as well:

…Bells are simply amazing. St. Mary Basilica installed new bells during Holy Week, and the photos Ben Hillyer took of the bells are mesmerizing. As with our Catholic faith, the bells are rich in symbols and meaning, a beautiful tribute to the glory of God. We’ll share more about the new bells and their history in the next edition of Natchez the Magazine. But in the meantime, take a moment to listen and enjoy…

In talking with folks about the masked bandit (aka raccoon) that made its way into the Adams County Courthouse last month, we learned that the intrepid critter isn’t the first to break into the courthouse. The first one apparently wreaked havoc in the judge’s chambers and, folks say, prompted then-Judge Al Johnson to keep a stick in his office … just in case. Having battled a repeat visitor in our Brookhaven office for nearly a year (he likes to drop through ceiling tiles), I can appreciate the stick and the wariness. Anyone who has an effective, humane critter remedy, please let me know …

One of my most treasured gifts last Christmas came from my daughter-in-law, who found it at the Natchez Farmers Market, and sunny spring days are the perfect time to visit that Saturday morning market on the Natchez Bluff. I was lucky enough to chat with a young shopper two weeks ago who’d spent the morning at the market with her father, stocked up with edible cookie dough and other treats. They were settling in for a sandwich lunch on the bluff and talking about how much they enjoyed the market. If you have the chance this weekend, head to the bluff and enjoy.

… If you’re at the market Saturday, be sure to stop by the First Annual Pooch-a-Palooza fundraiser for the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. Starting at noon at Smoot’s Grocery, the event features crawfish, bands, silent auctions, raffles and a cornhole tournament.

…And the best part of both the market and Pooch-a-Palooza? Pups are welcome. So, if you see me there with a large, shedding lap dog who proudly answers to Leonard (Fournette), come say hello.

We might just find some interesting things to add to that notebook.

Stacy G. Graning is regional editor of The Democrat. Contact her at stacy.graning@natchezdemocrat.com.