Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Salty Old Editor: An Adventure in Ink

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Salty Old Editor: An Adventure in Ink

Article excerpt

Salty Old Editor: An Adventure in Ink. By Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder. (Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2012. Pp. 304. Illustrations, acknowledgments. $22.50, paper.)

One of the true tests of whether University of Arkansas journalism students made the grade in the 1960s and 1970s was whether they could spell the names of the Dumas Clarion owners. Charlotte and Melvin Schexnayder were fixtures at J-Days, a celebration of all that was good about Arkansas journalism. I could spell their names-thank goodness- and I always enjoyed their visits; I felt a connection between the U of A and journalism across the state.

I knew they were prominent figures in the state's journalism history, but because they seemed most interested in how U of A students were doing, it wasn't until I was an alumnus that I had a better sense of the significant role they played, particularly Charlotte.

All along, you could hear Salty Old Editor, even just standing in the same conversation group as Mrs. Schexnayder. All you had to do was talk to her and you just knew that she had a memoir that needed writing.

The Schexnayders' life together could just as well have been a Frank Capra movie as a Pathe newsreel. On her own merit, Mrs. Schexnayder's career was a series of firsts and onlies, and it all comes to the fore in her recollections of a full life in the Arkansas Delta.

Not to nitpick, but I would have appealed to Mrs. Schexnayder to slow down and write in full at least four of the books that she squeezed into this single memoir.

Book One, for example, would be the rich story she tells of life in the delta in the earliest of her more than eighty years. She spent her childhood and young adulthood in a fascinating place at a pivotal time in Arkansas history, and her take on the era deserves much more than the abbreviated telling readers get.

Book Two, to continue, would describe the burgeoning civil rights movement that eased into the delta. Mrs. …

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