I haven’t always been beloved like I am now as your editor – or at least I’d like to think I’m somewhat beloved. Okay, I’ll go with somewhat liked or even tolerated. No, there was a time, back in the old days, that I was despised by some, enough that they formed a club against me.

Um, maybe I should explain. As I’ve referred to before, I wasn’t always the sweetheart I am now, writing my funny columns and trying to lighten the mood. Back years ago I was one of those jerks who tried to tell everyone how to live their lives, bloviating about my politics and ethics like I had a one-on-one direct line with the Almighty. You can see how that would be irritating, especially when you had to read that drivel each week in my column.

So, unbeknownst to me until quite recently, my misguided meanderings in the form of newsprint had brought the ire of several high school students who didn’t care for my politics. I made enough of a bad impression on them that they got together and formed a club – a club against all things Duane. They called it S.A.D. – Students Against Duane.

“You used to be a real jerk,” said Carol, one of the students (who is now in her 30s) who formed that club nearly 20 years ago as she revealed the existence of the group to me a few months ago as we talked in a social setting. “We had meetings and talked about you.”

Now, while I am not the same jerk I used to be, I still think somewhat highly of myself, so the revelation that there was a club formed against me was both disappointing and appealing at the same time.

“What did you talk about?” I asked. “Did you serve drinks?”

Rolling her eyes, Caro shook her head. “We just talked about what a jerk you were and how we could get you fired from the paper,” she revealed. “That, and we drank.”

“So it was a drinking club?” I quipped.

“Not completely, although there was some drinking,” she replied. “We were actually a political action club. We thought about picketing you.”

Sorry folks, but that brought a smile to my face. “I would have loved that,” I admitted. “Still would. I’ve never been picketed.”

She gave me a knowing nod. “That’s why we didn’t do it,” she said. “We knew a pompous jerk like you would get a kick out of it.”

“I still would,” I smiled. “Think you could get the old gang back together?”

She slapped me on the shoulder. “You’re not the same person now,” she pointed out. “Folks like you now.”

“Eh,” I shrugged, referring to the butt beating I took at the polls when I ran for office back in 2018. “The voting public doesn’t.”

That’s when it hit me. If these students hated me so bad, why didn’t they use the voice they had – letters to the editor?

“Someone should have written in,” I noted.

“We figured you wouldn’t run anything we had to say,” she replied.

All I could do was laugh. “Oh, you have no idea,” I grinned.

While the fact there was a student group formed just to talk about me (and drink), came as a bit of surprise, I was very cognizant of those in the community who didn’t like me. How? Letters to the editor.

There were some outspoken folks who took advantage of the letters to the editor option. However, the letter I recall best is perhaps the shortest letter to the editor every published.

It was written by the mother of someone who I’d put in the paper for a crime. Unlike my political rants that brought the ire of those from the opposite side of the political arena, this had to do with a factual story that I published.

The letter, in its entirety read – “Duane has no brain.” That was it. Four words. The lady signed her name and listed her address. It was well-within the size limit, obviously, and my editor thought it was funny so he ran it.

“If we ran that, we would have ran your stuff,” I continued my conversation with Carol.

“And, you know I was the President of S.A.D.?” she revealed.

“You had elections?” I laughed.

“Yep,” she smiled. “I probably got more votes than you did when you ran for office.”

Ouch.

“Okay, Duane,” I can hear you say, looking for a deeper meaning to my stroll down memory lane. “You said all that, for what?”

To point out the importance of letters to the editor. There was an entire club formed against me yet I never knew their angst when it came to my writing. Had they simply availed themselves of the open forum they could have expressed themselves.

And, it isn’t just ranting about things you don’t like. You don’t have to be anti-Trump or pro-Trump or have a political agenda but we do run political letters as you’ve seen. You can write in to talk about concerns, likes and things that are on your mind. If you don’t like something about the paper, you can vent. Or, better yet, if you like something about the paper, you can praise us. Just remember, I spell my name Duane if you’re writing in to praise. If it’s to criticize, Duane don’t work here, man.

It’s your forum, you ought to use it. Provided it isn’t libelous and it’s somewhat coherent, I’ll run it. I do ask, if you can, to email the letters since it’s often hard to read the chicken scratchings some people have. Hey, I can say it since I can’t read my own handwriting.

If you’ve got something to say, email it to me, dsherrill@tullahomanews.com and address it as a letter to the editor. Sorry, “Duane has no brain” has already been taken.

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