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Life is like a box of chocolates

By By James Crawford
News Editor
Ok, I know the headline is a popular saying from the ever-so popular movie Forrest Gump but this week it just seems to be appropriate. As you may or may not be aware we now have a new publisher here at the Advance. As the weeks progress, he'll be out on the town getting to know each and every one of you and to talk about the direction he'll be taking the paper in.
The reason for the headline came from a conversation I had Tuesday morning with several colleagues at the Advance about how funny life is and how things seem to change at a moments notice all the time.
The daily grind of a paper is at the same time exhilarating and frustrating. It's always a matter of hurry up and wait and then why are you running behind. But it's a life I truly love. The challenges are endless and the fun of meeting new people is a constant high.
It has been my pleasure in just a brief five year career to have met many famous people through my writing career such as the current President George Bush, whom I met at a Randall Publishing fundraiser when he was still running for office. In person, he doesn't exactly make the best first impression but then he was very busy with the speech and all and the many handshakes. I even had my picture taken with him. Each time I get to meet someone famous I get somebody to use my camera and take a picture. One day I'll a wall full of memories.
Miss Alabama was a sight to see and she was very charming to have a conversation with. It's always nice to see someone young with a good head on their shoulders who are bound and determined to achieve things in this life.
I've tried to instill those values in my daughter and when possible I've dragged her along to meet some of these interesting if not famous folks. She had a blast at the wrestling match with the Steve from the Jerry Springer show look-a-like and I took her picture with the lady champ that night, although I can't remember her stage name at the moment.
I just remember my daughter wanted the picture real bad and I was about to get it for her -score one for me in the daddy book.
My biggest pride and joy in terms of meeting celebrities happened believe it or not in the beginning of my career. On an assignment from the Tuscaloosa News back in Tuscaloosa, I went to Oakman, a little town just outside of Jasper to meet country legend Merle Haggard.
Now at that time, I didn't have any awards, no press pass, and the only camera I had was a disposable but I was hungry and I love the man's music so I had the desire. All night long, I tried and tried to get backstage and set up an interview to no avail. The stage manager wouldn't help me and this one particular obese security officer decided it was his mission in life to block my access to Haggard at all costs. The guy even followed me around the arena to keep up with me.
To make a long story short, a certain roadie was influenced in ways we won't talk about to help me out and get me access to back stage while we distracted the security Gestapo.
After Merle settled down he came back off the bus and for a magical 45 minutes I watched my favorite country singer sing acapella with a handicapped boy in a wheelchair who's only wish in life was to sing with the Hag. Of course, still being on duty, I managed to get most of it on cassette tape through a hole I cut in my pants, the security guy wouldn't let me tape any other way so I cheated. I also got my picture taken with the common man's poet and I saw a young, handicapped boy live out his dream while I lived out mine. It's something I'll never forget and this career made it happen.
So no matter what road I take in life, I've many stories yet to tell and many people yet to meet, some famous, some not but all equally deserving because life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you're going to get and its up to you to make the most of it. Happy eating!
James Crawford is News Editor of the Atmore Advance. His column appears on Wednesday's. You can reach him at the office at 368-2123 or via e-mail at james.crawford@atmoreadvance.com