There are certain articles that stick with a person. They’re not always the absolute best, or the most snazzily written. Sometimes nobody remembers them except for one or two individuals. Sometimes they vanish into the yellowed abyss. Sometimes it feels as if they were never written; figments of someone’s imagination.
Back in the mid-1990s, when I was starting my career at The Tennessean in Nashville, I was blessed to have an editor named Larry Taft. Though we had little in common when it came to backgrounds, politics, interest, Larry taught me a ton about reporting, responsibility, professionalism. He was the kind of editor a writer liked—someone who’d spent years in the field, and knew what it meant to chase a story.
Anyhow, one day Larry told me about a piece he’d written way back in 1983, in the aftermath of the tragic death of Memphis State football coach Rex Dockery. On Dec. 12 of that year, Larry had been in attendance at the Lawrenceburg Quarterback Club’s annual awards banquet, where Dockery was slated to speak. The coach, however, was late, and word began to spread through the room of a plane crash. Larry’s resulting story is an absolute masterpiece. I found it tonight on Newspapers.com, and wanted to share.
It has stuck with me …