News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2007

Steve Stewart

Computer was roomful, not a laptop

Clifton Taulbert, best known for his books, shared tidbits about his life in an interview with Patrice Stewart.

While serving in the Air Force in the 1960s, he got a top-secret job with the 89th Presidential Wing in Washington, D.C. He can’t say much about it, but he was involved with some of the earliest computers.

“This computer was so big that it took up a room by itself, and everyone involved worked in white jackets,” he said. “When I think about it today, with a laptop on my desk, I realize the evolution of the computer has just been incredible.”

More memories

Clifton, author of “Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored” and “Eight Habits of the Heart,” will be the featured speaker Monday and Tuesday at Calhoun Community College’s sixth annual Writers Conference.

He’ll share more of his memories at 7 p.m. Monday at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts ($10 admission) and Tuesday at 9 a.m. at Calhoun’s Aerospace Training Center.

Bad cat, unhappy wife

Decatur City Councilman Ray Metzger has a stray-cat problem, Chris Paschenko reports.

During interviews for the city’s animal shelter director, Ray asked applicant Mindy Gilbert what he should do about a “tiger-looking” cat that jumps his fence, harasses his other felines and eats their food.

“My wife doesn’t want him back there,” Ray said. “He’s not neutered. He has no collar. I don’t want to call the animal shelter. I bought one of those BB guns that shoot plastic up to 90 feet away. I don’t think I’ve hit him yet.”

Mindy, a former contractor with the Humane Society of the United States, smiled and drew laughter when she told Ray, “I think you should make your wife happy.”

Political payback

When Holly Hollman locked her keys in her car at Cowford Campground’s open house, several people came to her aid.

Former Ardmore police Capt. Gary Daly said he could open it if he had a Slim Jim.

Athens police Lt. Floyd Johnson and investigator Daniel McNatt brought one.

The Slim Jim didn’t work, but a hooked metal rod one camper gave Gary did the trick.

Holly offered to provide everyone lunch as thanks.

“She’s been around politicians so long, she knows how to play the game,” Gary said. “The lunch is free and being provided by someone else.”

County workers were grilling pork tenderloin for the public as part of the open house.

Kill ’em with kindness

In Seattle, FBI Special Agent Larry Carr has a formula for thwarting would-be bank robbers.

Larry’s theory is that an overdose of courtesy will unnerve them and give them second thoughts.

“If you’re a legitimate customer, you think, ‘This is the friendliest person I’ve met in my life.’ If you’re a bad guy, it scares the lights out of you,” said banker Drew Ness.

It seems to work. Seattle bank robberies dropped from 80 in the first three months of 2006 to 44 during the same months this year.

Send stories for You Don’t Say to, or call Weekend Editor Steve Stewart at 340-2444.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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