11/08/04 — OPINION -- Good reading

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OPINION -- Good reading

By Gene Price
Published in News on November 8, 2004 1:59 PM

Many years ago, a Chamber of Commerce committee composed of representatives of Wayne County's major employers was making its annual pilgrimage to Washington. The trips were to exchange views and concerns with our congressional delegation.

On this particular trip, Lawson Withers, head of Wachovia Bank here and probably president of the Chamber, and I visited the Senate Gallery while Sen. Everett Dirksen was delivering a speech.

As we left, Lawson commented: "Senator Dirksen could read a telephone book and keep his audience spellbound!"

The great senator had that kind of delivery.

And he probably could have been even more mesmerizing reading from the classified ads in any daily newspaper.

"The classifieds" undoubtedly are one of the most important marketplaces in the country. The contents are useful, interesting, sometimes intriguing and often entertaining.

I have mentioned some in previous columns. Like the one offering "Chester drawers" for sale; and the "Nice boat and trailer with wench." Some might have wondered whether that referred to an electric winch or an electrifying wench.

The late Editor Henry Belk, who brought me to Goldsboro to be city editor in 1952, read -- or had read to him -- every day every word in the newspaper, including the legal notices and classified ads. His findings often steered the news department to stories we might otherwise have missed.

Hundreds of readers each day peruse the classifieds for something they might want to buy, or offer something to sell. I shared sometime back the time a fellow came in wanting to advertise for a prospective wife. He listed the desirable qualities and then offered: "Will share pitchers." (Presumably mugshots.)

Then there's one I missed, if indeed, it ever ran. My hunting and fishing buddy Paul Garrison was telling me about the exasperated wife who swore she was going to run this one in the classified ad column: "FOR SALE -- Set of Britannica Encyclopedias. Unused and not needed -- husband knows everything."