All of the Wonderful People: Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd Says Goodbye

A good marker for the time to quit is when you have enough happy hour stories to last the rest of your life. And, y'all, I am way past that goal line. Four decades in the news business - the last 28 years here at the Dallas Morning News - have been a gift, a privilege, a funhouse ride. Even now, in an era that has left respected news organizations in financial turmoil and that casts reporters as cartoon political demons, people tell me how interesting my job must be. Why yes, I tell them, it is. But what I'm really thinking is, Brother, you ain't a-woofin'! It would be rude to lord it over people, but the unvarnished fact is just this: I am extraordinarily lucky. Working in the news business is a front-row ticket to history, in its grandest and most humble iterations. I have seen every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter; shaken paws with celebrities, interviewed authors and experts and athletes. I was on the convention floor the night of Bill Clinton's first nomination; I got lost in a rural midnight snowstorm while covering the 1996 New Hampshire primary (and stumbled into a friendly fire station, where they gave me hot coffee and directions). I have covered red-hot murder trials from opening arguments to final verdict; froze my ... elbows ... off at the Winter Olympics, talked to war veterans, escaped from a near-riot in the back of a police car ("Keep your head down, ma'am," a blase officer kept advising, as rocks and bottles crashed against the windshield). I was in a fiery hot-air balloon crash. I've gone to car wrecks and plane crashes and murder scenes. When the first troops returned to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga. from Operation Desert Shield, crossing a mist-shrouded landing field like ghosts emerging from the ether, I was there with their waiting families. I stood next to a weeping elderly man clutching a bucket of fried chicken - his returning nephew's favorite treat. I wept, too. So, yes, I say modestly, eyes downcast and kicking ineffectually at the dirt: It has been an interesting career, indeed. I've got enough stories now to be the biggest bore at every oldtimer reunion and family potluck from now 'til doomsday.The most singular luck, though, is in having met and written about people who changed me, stayed in my head, showed me something important. They aren't celebrities or big newsmakers. They aren't "influencers" in the trendy talk social-media sense - but they influenced me. They're ordinary people, local residents who left a permanent impression. Their stories, one way or another, are all love stories, and love stories are the best kind.If you can pardon the presumption, I would like to sign off (-30-, as newspaper dinosaurs put it) by recalling five all-time favorite people it has been my precious good fortune to meet, interview and write about. In no particular order:  Continue reading...

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