Reaching into the old mailbag - Kathy Jefcoats

As a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I encourage anyone to express their opinion about whatever they want, which is why I enjoy hearing from readers. I don't care if they agree or disagree with what I have written, be it in this column or in an article. The most important point is that they are reading the newspaper and becoming more informed citizens, and exercising their own freedom of speech rights.

The reporters on staff at the News Daily and Daily Herald are required to write a weekly column. We can write about most any topic but aren't allowed to cover issues we encounter on our beats because we have to be objective and cannot show bias. That sort of limits me because I love to write about crime, the court system and law enforcement. I have a minor in criminology and have covered cops and courts for 15 years in Georgia and South Carolina. It is my "off duty" hobby, a lifelong passion and favorite topic of mine in books, magazines, movies and television.

So I end up writing about other stuff, mostly family. I am not interested enough to write about politics and world events. I know what is going on and have opinions about that but just don't want to write about it. I always enjoy getting feedback from readers because I respect the fact they took the time and effort to write me, for good or for bad. I got the most e-mails when I wrote the birthday column about Elton John, a lot from other fans who don't even live here or subscribe but read my column online, which I think is fantastic.

Every time I have written about the U.S. Postal Service, I have gotten a response from someone and this past time was no different. I barely mentioned my dissatisfaction with the post office n a mere blip on the screen of a long list of verifiable complaints I won't even go into n and got a long e-mail from a postal worker. He went on and on about what a hard job it is and how postal workers are misunderstood. He resents the use of the term "going postal," which I didn't even use in the column. I wrote him back and he answered but I clearly got nowhere with him. I finally surmised that postal workers are clearly sensitive about their jobs, jobs for which they are well-paid.

When I wrote about my 2002 trip to New York, I got a wonderful e-mail from a young elderly gentleman from the Big Apple who shared my delight for the city. He and I exchanged several e-mails and I found him a fascinating, intelligent person n and not simply because he reads and obviously enjoys my column.

I got several e-mails about the story I wrote about camping. The hardest part of writing a story is the lede. Sometimes the lede comes to me before the interview is even over, sometimes it takes a while. Even so, once the lede is in place, the rest of the story flows from there. I wanted to make the lede fun, reflective of the story n summer camp. The song, "Hello Mother, Hello Father," recorded also as "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," to reflect singer Allan Sherman's Brooklyn accent, immediately came to mind. It is a cute, novelty song about camps and I thought fit right in with the theme.

I just didn't know who sang it so I did an online search. All the links that came up indicated that it was a Spike Jones song, lyrics were attributed to him so that's what I went with. Several readers took exception to that, including my own mother. (Thanks, Mom.) She and another said the song belonged to Sherman, another said it was some guy named Freeberg. I searched again and Spike Jones was again given credit. Further search also turned up Sherman's version but I could not determine exactly who wrote it. I think Spike Jones either wrote and recorded it or wrote it for others to record.

If you know for sure, let me know.

The latest e-mail came from a woman who objected to my Mother's Day column. She also wrote my managing editor, which is a good indication that someone is really upset about something. I had written about my three daughters, all were unmarried when they had their first child. Two are married now but the third is still single and raising her son on her own. Since the column was about mothers, I felt I had the right to talk about my own family. Sure, I was disappointed they didn't marry first but times have changed and continue to change. I find it so much more important to be supportive to my kids and maintain a relationship with them, despite their choice of lifestyles.

Keep writing and expressing your opinions. They are important to me and should be to you, too.

Kathy Jefcoats covers crime and the courts in Henry County. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by email at kjefcoats@henryherald.com.