Banks County Opinions...

OCTOBER 2, 2002


By: Zach Mitcham
The Banks County News
October 2, 2002

There are photos we need to keep
A photo never changes.
Well, actually, it does. It changes as we do.
A seventh grader’s yearbook shot is one thing during his seventh grade year. It is quite another during his 70th year.
The photos we have of ourselves and of our family members don’t begin as artifacts. Instead, photos of ourselves are often testaments to our self doubt about a bad haircut or a goofy smile.
It’s only years later that we can look at our pictures with third-person objectivity, recognizing that there was historical significance in what style we were wearing at the time or where the photo was taken.
Many people failed to recognize the importance of Civil War photos after the war. They were sickened by the reminders of death and disease. So they threw away thousands of pictures of the conflict. Ken Burns’ documentary about the Civil War notes that many plate glass negatives were even used in windows in garden houses, with the images of soldiers and citizens gradually fading away under the sun.
This is truly a loss to recognize.
We know that the first thought in a flood or fire — beyond the safety of loved one — is not about a TV or couch. It’s the family photos and keepsakes, all that can’t be replaced.
So we hang on to these things, put them in photo albums and shoe boxes. Many go a step further and research their family tree, trying to hook the sunken treasure and pull it through the murky water of the past.
And while there is much interest in these pursuits, it’s difficult to establish cohesion in the efforts. Because these are generally personal endeavors, not community projects.
Of course, there have been those over the years who have worked hard to preserve historical landmarks, records and momentos in Jackson County.
But with each passing generation, the county’s connection to days long gone dwindles, unless efforts are made to document the past in an organized fashion. When pictures and records are tossed away or forgotten, the loss is not just the family’s, it’s the community’s.
If those keepsakes are cast away, no one will see how that old church used to look, how that family dressed up for an outing in their carriage, how the house they lived in looked compared to how it appears now.
Old photos and stories help new generations develop a love for their community. They see that there is still a connection, still a life to the people and places long gone.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


By: Phillip Sartain
he Banks County News
October 2, 2002

Technology and apologies
Technology, lately, has been a source of apologizes for me.
When we all started surfing the Internet and using personal e-mail accounts several years ago, many people thought it was the “revoluntary” way to keep in touch with friends and family members. Instead, it has made us into a bunch of slackers—and I’m sorry for that.
Since my birthday two weeks ago, I have yet to click on a simple button on my e-mail account and say “thank you” to those who actually remembered. Yeah, I’ve read the messages, but I just can’t find the time to respond. And I’m sorry for that.
It seems like that’s a common response among those of us who use e-mail frequently.
We read a message, maybe we put off answering for a few days, and when we do, it’s usually a short, boring apology of why we haven’t written anything yet.
Or we apologize for our “busy” lives keeping us from actually writing decent e-mails.
If your e-mail inbox is like mine, it probably has a few messages from various friends along the lines of: “hey. how are things going? sorry I haven’t written in a while. work has been crazy lately. thinking of changing jobs. i moved into a new apartment. it’s ok. sorry i can’t write more, but i’m at work now. will write more later. bye.”
Gee, and we can’t even bother writing in complete sentences or capitalizing letters either. Choppy and emotionless phrases, that’s how our writing skills have evolved in the past few years.
And we’ve resorted to using too much e-mail at work instead of actually talking to our co-workers.
I always thought it was stupid at the public relations firm that I used to work at that we would send every form of communication through e-mail.
“Susan, have you contacted the Miami office about sending the weekly report?” I would write.
“Yes,” she would respond (with the answer and previous message carbon copied to the Miami office).
Susan’s desk was right next to mine (on the other side of the cubicle wall). Why did we have to send messages through cyberspace just to get a one-word response?
Sorry, but verbal communication leaves no proof that the conservation actually took place (so the policy went).
Even the possibility of conversation is something that is lacking in most e-mails from friends. When someone e-mails me, I like them to tell me what’s going on in their lives. Tell me how the job is going (beyond “well”), tell me about your family life and tell me anything else that may be going on in your life.
Just, please, don’t send me another rehashed, forwarded e-mail.
I have one friend that when I see her name in my e-mail inbox, it does mean that she was thinking about me, but just not in the way that I hoped would be more personal. She usually includes me in one of those “send this message to ten people and something will happen” e-mails or a chain letter on how Jesus loves me.
“Jessica,” I write, “I know nothing happens when you send these things to ten people and I know Jesus loves me, but, please, write me a ‘real’ e-mail.”
“Sorry,” she writes back. “But nothing new is going on here.”
There’s also that one friend who can’t help but send e-mails that shouldn’t be opened in public places. Things start making noises, animated art begins moving and you’re left in an embarrassing situation. Oh, how that’s made me run out of computer labs before. And when I later tell that person I REALLY didn’t want to see that, he usually comes back with, “Sorry, but it was funny.”
Then, there’s the person who NEVER e-mails, except every few years—literally.
A few weeks ago, one of my friends from the Walt Disney World College Program suddenly sent me an e-mail. I hadn’t heard from him since 1998 and I actually posted a message on my website saying, “Have you this person?”. When I asked him why he hadn’t dropped a line after four years, he said, “Sorry, but things happen.”
On a final note, I meant to write this column earlier, but my computer at work crashed. I then managed to bring down two more computers at the MainStreet Newspapers office on the same day. Sorry, but I couldn’t do anything.
Kerri Graffius is reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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