Bandanas help distinguish Curtis Wilkie’s two dogs

Oct. 6, 2004 – A couple of Fridays ago I gave in and drove my vintage Mercedes to Memphis for a few minor repairs, which were to include realigning the front end to
take care of a serious pulling to the right. I was waiting for Clyde Bynum when the crew returned from lunch, and they quickly remedied my complaints including the “Check Engine” light, which had been burning on the dash for some three weeks.

It came on after the car had sat in the hot sun at dialysis for more than four hours. When I cranked the car, it didn’t go off.
It has done this before and the computer was reset. So it didn’t really bother me except at night; in the daytime it hardly showed, but at night it was like a beacon.
Clyde said the computer said it was a vacuum line to the transmission that could be replaced if it came back on.
As to the car pulling to the right, he said, “You have only 14 lbs. of air in the front right tire. No wonder it’s pulling.”
They repaired the tire and it drove like new. Well, as new as a 10-year car with 150,000 miles can drive.
At least I didn’t have to struggle to keep it out of the ditches on the right.
•The following Sunday night we drove to Oxford for the opening session of an Ole Miss Journalism Advisory Committee two-day meeting.
It was a social event, an outdoor dinner, at the home of Curtis Wilkie on South 11th St.
Curtis’ daughter, Leighton McCool of Oxford, who was supervising a cooking team in the carport, greeted us and directed us to the backyard where some 40 plus old friends, classmates and former students were busily socializing.
Curtis, who now holds the Cook Chair in Journalism, finished a year or so after me. He was raised in Summit, MS, and his first reporting job was with the Clarksdale Press Register. From there he went to the Boston Globe, where he spent most of his working years. Several years ago, after semi-retiring to New Orleans, he rediscovered Oxford and now calls it home.
I knew he was home when I saw his two yellow labs mingling with the guests.
They both wore sturdy collars overlaid with different colored bandanas that Curtis said he used to tell them apart. I noticed that one dog seemed to be larger, but he pointed out that didn’t help unless they were together and fairly close.
He was calling one “Binx.”
“What’s his name,” I asked.
“Binx Bolling,” he said, “the Moviegoer in Walker Percy’s 1962 novel.”
“They are both New Orleans dogs,” he said. “The other one is ‘Willie Morris Wilkie.’”
I studied both dogs with a renewed appreciation as we sat at a table with Sherwood and Liz Shiver Harris, Acting-Chair of Journalism Samir and Marie Husni, all of Oxford, and Columnist Bill and Gloria Minor of Jackson, enjoying fried catfish and all the trimmings.
We regrouped at 9 a.m. Monday in the Alumni House Auditorium and heard from a host of University officials and the architect for the addition to Farley Hall, which will house the Charles Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.
Husni described the renewed focus of the department of reportage in all the media and an emphasis on community journalism, which was last taught by me, some 20 years ago.
My daughter, Lisa McNeece, who is general manager of the family’s Bruce newspaper, has been invited to teach the course next semester.
Anyway, following lunch at the Alumni House, the group went to the new Student Media Center in Bishop Hall, where the newspaper, radio, TV cable station, and the yearbook are integrated in a single newsroom—a unique and emerging design for today’s multi media.
There are also special accommodations for integrated Web pages, magazines and advertising and creative design.
•A special treat at a morning break was the appearance of Ellis Nassour, a classmate who has made it big time on the New York entertainment scene.
Nassour has written several books about Patsy Cline, which fosters the image of “The Honky Tonk Angels.”
He was on campus to donate his extensive art and entertainment collection to the Ole Miss Library in honor of his late parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Nassour of Vicksburg.
We had a good visit, in which he chastised me for not answering his e-mail.
I apologized profusely and promised to do better.