I became a writer because of an angry wife.
When first married, I had a job as an insurance salesman, requiring meetings with potential clients in late afternoon/early evening. My wife, an elementary school teacher, had to be up and away in early morning. The arrangement was irritating. We were something like ships passing in the night.
One morning, while still asleep, she came into the bedroom, shook me awake, and said in a sharp, demanding voice (one I had never heard until that day), “When I come home today, you’ll have another job.” She wheeled and stormed out of the room and the apartment, leaving me stunned.
As I took coffee that morning, there was a thump against the front door of our apartment. When I opened the door to investigate, I saw a small, rolled-up newspaper in the hallway – the Decatur-DeKalb News. I took it inside, opened it to the classified pages, and saw an ad that read: Wanted: Young man to learn interesting profession.
There was a telephone number.
I dialed the number, more out of curiosity than anything. The voice that answered said, “Decatur-DeKalb News.”
It was a blind ad, a teaser. They were looking for an errand boy, someone to sweep the floor and perform the various tasks that mark every small business on earth. Still, I went to see them and interviewed with Bud and Mary Crane, the owners. Frankly, they did not want to hire me. I had a college degree; they were looking for a high school dropout.
Hearing the echo of my wife’s demand – “When I come today, you’ll have another job . . .” I asked how much they were paying.
“Forty dollars a week,” Mary Crane told me.
I again heard the voice of my wife.
“I’ll take it,” I said.
And that was the beginning of it. I swept floors, ran errands, handled the classified sections, and then I began to realize how much joy the writers seemed to be having – Linton Broome and Laura Rimer being the primary staff. I asked if I could do an occasional story and was welcomed. Writing for a weekly newspaper did not require a journalism degree in the early 60s. You only needed a typewriter and a strong false sense of worth. Two years later I was employed as a sportswriter by The Atlanta Journal. It is where I learned the craft of writing.
And the rest is history – accidental history born of a wife’s anger.