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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Gray Matter: Dorr opens at Chronicle Times

Monday, April 4, 2005

(Editor's note: Marcus octogenarian Margaret Dorr's column "Gray Matter" will be a regular feature in the Chronicle Times, with the personable, skilled writer entertaining and informing readers with her musings and opinion on a wide variety of topics. Please join us in welcoming Margaret to our pages.)

I was pleased to be invited to fill this space from time to time. Now I hope you, the readers, will be equally pleased that I have accepted the invitation. I've been given few editorial restrictions on subject matter or point of view, so I will be free to share my stories and tell my tales. I feel strongly that a successful columnist should remember that it is a two-way thing. The writer is only half of it. You, the readers, are the oh-so-important other half.

"Gray Matter," the title for my ramblings, was suggested by one of my sons. He observed that it captures my age and my perspective while suggesting both a backward look and forward thinking. I was flattered and I hope you find it justified. Perhaps I should begin with a bit of my own story. Longer ago than I like to admit, I earned my BA at the University of Iowa. After a bit of secondary teaching and a stint at medical editing, I settled into my preferred role of housewife and mother. 

Through those years I was always writing, everything from personal letters (in the days when personal letters were a bit of an art form), to letters-to-the-editor, to club programs. That, too, was in an earlier time when the program for a study club involved a lot of intense research, and then pulling it all together for a meaningful educational experience. For a while  I wrote a column in our local paper for the Marcus Library, not unlike the things Mary Jo Ruppert and Mary Borghelinck-Kranig do here at the Chronicle Times. 

When our kids were a bit older, I spent several years writing occasional feature stories for the Cherokee Daily Times, parent publication of this paper. What a privilege it was to work for (former owner-publisher) Tom Miller, the master of them all, as many can still attest. I am sure I learned more under his guidance than most students do today in their journalism classes.

My next venture was a column, again for the local paper, in which I attempted to draw word pictures of  individuals or events from the community. So you see, I've been down a bit of this way before. Of late, I have dabbled a bit with poetry, but that's another story.  Still, I may bore you with snippets of it now and then, so consider yourselves forewarned. Lately, I  seem to spend most of my efforts evaluating the media offerings of others. I often ponder the efficacy of Spell Check, a device which obviously can't detect its user's intent -- whether he means "wear" or "ware," for example. It does make a difference, you know. 

However, if others are now going to read my words, I will be forced to, figuratively, "put my money where my mouth is".  This is where the "two-way" part comes in. It will be up to you readers to keep me in line. Happily, I have a stiff spine and a fairly thick skin. I also have one further advantage which should serve me well. There are very few advantages to this business of growing old, as I well know, so I am shamelessly willing to use any that come my way. The one I have in mind goes something like this. If someone eighty or older (in this case me) comes up with something really dumb, something truly out of line, it's almost certain the average person will just say to himself, "Oh well, at her age what can you expect?", and let it go at that. So, don't let me down, even if you are "above average".  I'm counting on you! We're all in this together.