Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kudzu and Wildflowers Remembered

North Carolina’s Doug Marlette, best known as an editorial cartoonist and creator of Kudzu, died Tuesday in a single car crash in Mississippi.

His editorial cartoon work had a wickedly sharp edge tempered with a certain Southern gentility and I’ve enjoyed looking back over his recent cartoons and reading about his life.

Marlette’s 2005 commencement address to Durham Academy includes some amusing recollections and advice. He exhorted the graduates to "be suspicious of experts", by recalling his own high school days:

All I knew was that I wanted to draw pictures for a living. The counselor looked stricken. "Douglas, believe me, when you get to college, artists are a dime a dozen." Then, looking at my grades, he said, "Why don't you use your math skills and drafting ability and study architecture?"

It’s a pretty good read - you might feel like you’ve met a new friend. Archives of his work, information on his novels and much more at the Doug Marlette website.

Then another loss yesterday when Lady Bird Johnson passed away. Now, THERE was a first lady.

The fact that we’re treated to a daily dash of color down by the highway is due in part to Lady Bird’s crusade for highway beautification, her appreciation for wildflowers and her efforts for conservation.

And if that weren’t enough, she’s credited with helping to get Head Start underway in the 1960s. Lady Bird championed some worthy causes all her life.

In March of 1967, Lady Bird Johnson came to Jackson County to visit Western Carolina University and Canada School. The Sylva Herald online archive lists several other nice stories about that day. I imagine you wouldn’t have to go far to find folks who remember it like it was yesterday. That must have been a memorable day.

Finally, some quotes from Lady Bird Johnson:

Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.

The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.

Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.

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