Looking backward, looking forward

Published 10:59 am Thursday, September 11, 2014

As I wrote this column for The Daily Leader last week, I was reminded of two framed prints, each about the same size. One has graced a wall in my office at the newspaper, while the other hangs in my office at home in the Vernondale neighborhood of Brookhaven.

Each now conveys meaning for me far beyond the artist’s intent.

To get to that, I have to back up a bit. A little over three years ago, I wrote my first column for The Daily Leader. This is my final one here.

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In between the two, I’ve had the privilege to play a part in bringing your daily newspaper to you five days a week. It’s a responsibility I haven’t taken lightly, and I believe each staff member of The Daily Leader feels the same way.

After today, which is my last day here at The Daily Leader, my next focus will be on packing for my move to Tupelo, where I’ll be starting a new job.

Which brings me back to the two pictures. The one in my Daily Leader office is a framed copy of a Wyatt Waters watercolor called “Looking Backward.” It depicts Cherokee Street and the Homeseekers’ Paradise sign as seen from a rearview mirror in a car.

The picture in my home office is one I bought years ago at an antique mall in my hometown of Columbus when I used to live there. Titled “Tupelo – Where It All Began,” it shows a Photoshop-color-tinted classic black-and-white photo of a toddler Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley. The print is a poster that promoted Tupelo’s Elvis Presley Festival some years back.

Despite the fact that I began in Columbus, not Tupelo, the picture seems to have called to me long before the town did.

Looking back, I had never lived in Brookhaven before Bill Jacobs brought me here, and I’ve never lived in Tupelo either, but I relish the idea of moving closer to family and roots at this stage in my life.

I’ll be about an hour away and an easy four-lane drive from my hometown, less than two hours from Hernando, where my sister and her family live, much closer to another sister and her family in Kentucky, and an easy drive to Birmingham, where I lived for many years and still have many friends.

So it seems like I’m moving home in many ways, and as a result, “where it all began” seems just as apt as “looking backward” at this stage in my life. Coming full circle is something I’ve done many times. I’ve chosen to leave newspaper work for something else and returned again twice. This will make my third departure. Whether I’ll return to this kind of work again some day, I don’t know.

But I do know that newspapers are in good hands as long as we still have the kind of young journalists in the field as Julia V. Pendley, Daily Leader lifestyles editor, and Katie Williamson, Daily Leader news reporter, both of whom joined us this year. The Daily Leader also was blessed to attract a new, young graphic artist to its newsroom this year – Abbey Barker. These three, two of whom grew up in Brookhaven, joined Marty Albright, Daily Leader sports editor, part-time staffer Brody Coley and me in putting out the news content each week.

I know our readers can rest assured that The Daily Leader news department, along with everyone at your hometown daily newspaper, including our freelance writers/photographers, will keep providing you with the best local coverage humanly possible.

Thank you, the readers, and all of the friendly people I’ve met and come to know here in Brookhaven, for making me feel at home for the past three years and two months.

I’ll carry with me many, many fond memories to associate with my Wyatt Waters print as I begin again.

Rachel Eide has as served editor/general manager of The Daily Leader since July 2011. Emails will reach her at rachel.eide1@gmail.com.