The things the story didn#8217;t tell you

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

If you are among those who have already gone out of your way to welcome the new guy n me n to Ahoskie, thanks. They say Mississippi is the hospitality state, but, based on the past week, that’s a title I’d give to North Carolina.

If you’re a regular reader of this newspaper, you probably saw the story last Saturday that told you I was here and outlined most of what I’ve done to make a living the past many years.

That story did not tell you some stuff, though.

I’m kind of an atypical newspaper publisher.

For instance, I’m pro-gun. At one time I spent just about all of my spare time shooting and reloading. Back then, without looking at the books, I could tell you how many grains of which powder you needed to put into a cartridge to get a specific velocity with a specific bullet.

I punched a lot of holes in paper with both pistols and rifles and I’ve shot some groups I’m pretty proud of. When I took the concealed carry course in my native Texas, I shot a perfect score. (But I only made 98 on the written test.)

I’ve shot mule deer in Utah, pronghorn antelope in New Mexico and whitetail in Texas.

Another “for instance”: I’m probably the only newspaper publisher you know who can comfortably drive a Freightliner condo pulling a fully loaded 53-foot trailer through Chicago and back it square up against a dock.

In the wake of a divorce 10 or 15 years ago, I decided I never wanted to see another newspaper and didn’t really care if I ever saw another human being again, so I went truck driving for a couple of years.

My co-driver was a big, black dog named Dog. We’d stay out 30 days, sleep at home for three or four days and then go back out. Dog is the only Lab I know who has visited every one of the contiguous states except Florida and Rhode Island. She’s been up into Canada, too.

Back then, Dog didn’t weigh near as much as she does now. Today, she struggles to stay under 100 pounds. She was a lot more active back then, too. If she saw a body of water n any body of water n she wanted to be in it. Today, she avoids sprinklers.

Those characteristics all apply to me, too.

I’ve interviewed three presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before they became presidents, and Jimmy Carter while he was.

(Though I didn’t know it at the time, I interviewed Carter in Washington the day the helicopters en route to try and rescue the hostages in Tehran were getting into trouble in the desert.)

I was in Los Angeles during the riots there. I didn’t mean to be and I didn’t mean to stay as long as I did and I wouldn’t want to do it again, but, now that it’s history, I’m kind of glad I was there.

I started writing an automotive column in 1983. I guess that’s kind of what I do instead of golf. I’m a charter member of the Texas Auto Writers Association and, over the years, in connection with the column, I’ve met a lot of really interesting people, had some pretty interesting experiences and have driven some pretty upscale machinery.

I can even match the raccoon story Amanda VanDerBroeck told in last Saturday’s paper.

I was evaluating a 500-horsepower Mustang at the time, headed home after a day at the newspaper in Athens, Texas. I lived about five miles out of town and it was just starting to get dark. As I rounded a long, gentle curve, I saw the world’s largest raccoon start across the road. I knew I was going to hit him and I knew there was nothing I could do about it. I also knew that, because that high performance Mustang’s front end was designed to cheat the wind and was mostly fiberglass, it was going to suffer significant damage.

When the inevitable happened, I could hear little pieces of the $50,000 automobile tinkling off down the road behind me.

As soon as I got home, I called my wife and told her I’d been involved in a fatality accident. She didn’t think that was very funny. Even today she doesn’t think that’s very funny.

David Sullens is publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. He can be reached by calling 332-7218 or by e-mailing