May 3, 2010 Rotogram


om Dawson and Alan Lang, co-authors of Kings of Tort, a chronicle of the downfall of prominent Mississippi attorneys Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and Paul Minor, are our program guests.


Next week, Julie Jordan of the Mississippi School Board Association, will explain “Turnaround Schools,” a cooperative project with Mississippi State University.


Invocation and Pledge: Rodney Foil

Attendance: Numbers improved, but it looked like guests almost matched members. There were 104 members (33 exempt, 2 honorary) present and 86 (17 exempt, 10 honorary) absent.

Guests and visitors: Visiting Rotarian was Bill Overstreet of West Point. Members brought 21 guests including Ann Chiles of Frank Chiles; April Windham of Maridith Geuder; Barbara Clynch of Ed Clynch; Becky Favre, Greg Jeffries, Katie Britton and Michelle Wood of Melissa Dixon; Bernie Imes, Beth Profitt and Patsy Bowen of Sandra Harpole; Carolyn Bryan of Nellah Taylor; Jennifer Blackbourn of Richard Blackbourn; Jennifer Gregory of Jon Maynard; Kevin Daniels of Bob Daniels; Lynda Forbus and Lynn Black of Jack Forbus; Margaret Allen and Mary Fox of Bill Fox; Pattie Molen of Marshall Molen; Roxie Brock of Jeremy Brock; and, Vicki Leach of Robert Leach. Guests of the Club were Margaret Ann Chandler, and RYE students Francesca Scaravelli and Kasper Eriksen.

Makeups: Carey Hardin and Roy Ruby in West Point, Marshall Molen as speaker in Canton and Mike Hainsey as speaker in Aliceville, Alabama.

Kudos: Filling in for President Martha who was at the District 6820 meeting, President-elect Tommy Tomlinson noted that Nancy Hargrove is first vice president and president-elect of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Additionally, she will be on the faculty of the T.S. Eliot International Summer School in London in July.


Past-president Larry Box brought us insight into a lifelong Starkville citizen and the club’s 1978-`79 president. Larry said he wanted to tell us “a bit more than I suspect you know” about longtime attorney William Ward.

      College students now renting Ward’s old homeplace were exploring the attic and found a box of memorabilia about William when he was seven or eight years old.

      It seems he was well-known as a singer specializing in yodeling. After an appearance on a Birmingham radio station he received fan mail of 15 to 20 letters and cards from throughout South complimenting him.

      In that same box was a Starkville newspaper clipping that shed light on Rotary activity from the Spring of 1929.

      What then was known as District 16 embarked on a club-to-club program to get to know each other better. Starting in Columbus, a Rotary shield was carried to Macon by a delegation of Rotarians. The news account noted the culmination of the journey:

      “The sixteenth district Rotary shield completed its goodwill journey . . . last Monday when the Starkville club delivered it to the Columbus Rotary Club.

      “Sixteen Starkville Rotarians and guests attended the weekly luncheon at the Columbus club on Monday at the Gilmer Hotel and furnished the program . . . .

      “Featured on the program were solos by Mr. Robert Blackwell and Master William Ward. Master William captivated the hearers of the entire assembly with his singing and yodeling.

      “President W. W. Magruder of the Starkville Rotary Club was introduced by Governor Birnie Imes and after a few well-chosen and appropriate remarks delivered the shield to the Columbus club where it will remain until the district conference in Clarksdale next week. Five months ago, the shield started out on its trip to 28 clubs . . . .”


In the inimitable style of Southern Living, Eleanor Griffin, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, opened the program with a multimedia presentation “Soul of the South.”

      The 44-year-old regional publication, first targeting a 16-state audience from Texas to Delaware, is now a national magazine in the top 100 of circulation.

      Griffin explained the philosophy that she follows in her “Keeping It Southern” column and the publication’s development. She is resisting our “one size fits all world.”

      Just as the multimedia feature spotlighted the “Soul of the South,” the magazine is seeking to capture a culture that may not be here in 100 years. Griffin’s formula for success is that the magazine must be both emotion and economics driven.

      The magazine targets Southerners by birth or by choice. She noted that the fastest growing circulation is around Charlotte, N.C. where the banking industry has drawn many people from other regions.

      Following the strategy that spawned the publication, the editors continually focus on younger audiences. For example, “Mama’s Way and Your Way” is a feature that seeks to preserve old standards in a contemporary manner.

      In architectural pieces, the goal is to feature vernacular buildings, not mixed media styles. Gardening  features emphasize pass along plants.  Kitchen features look for Southern, but convenient, recipes.

      In a quick look at the magazine, Griffin listed her “Ten Truths about Southern Living.”

  1. It’s always Christmas, because the holiday issue is so complex in production.
  2. Yummy food covers are a hallmark. She embraces a friend’s assessment that it is “gastro-porn.”
  3. An increase in southern microbreweries has resulted in more staff “research.”
  4. Editors focusing on new southern hotels call their research “sleeping around the south.”
  5. Readers’ love to send pictures of their homes, some of which are great and some are scary.
  6. “Done in a Day” features take more than a week to produce because of attention to detail.
  7. There are at least four prisons with subscriptions.
  8. They have no intention of listing calorie counts.
  9. Seeking small town joy, the publication strictly maintains a balance between the urban and rural South. For instance, Canton and Kosciusko are slated for features this year.
  10. Editors make it look easy, because all but three are southern born. Griffin said, “Time, Inc. owns the magazine, but we live in Alabama.”

She closed with a note on the future of magazines saying, “In the next decade most weeklies will move to electronic distribution with only a monthly print version. However, small titles will continue to multiply.

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