There are many things to love about working at a newspaper, but at or near the top of the list has to be the diversity of the people you meet. For me, the famous people are no more interesting than the ones who quietly do amazing things and never seek publicity.
I worked for about a year at a funeral home, and it might be the only other place where you get to meet so many people from so many walks of life. Everybody dies and, therefore, everybody at some point or another is going to visit a funeral home. The stories I heard in that one year were amazing.
Anyway, after watching "The Irishman" the other day, it struck me that Irby Park covered the Jimmy Hoffa trial for the old Chattanooga News-Free Press, and while I saw Park nearly every day for many years, I never took the time to ask him about that bit of American history.
People like Park saw so much history that dies when they do in many cases.
That led to me to think about other missed opportunities, and maybe even some people who are still alive that I'd love to have a beer or a cup of coffee with.
At the very top of the missed opportunities list is Desmond Doss. Doss and his wife at the time, Frances, used to come into the paper on a seemingly regular basis, and quite frankly, he was just the old war veteran who was deaf and rarely spoke, though she made up for it, and therefore I didn't pay much attention to him.
I was too young and self-absorbed, I suppose, to give much thought to just who and what Doss was at the time. That changed, of course, with the release of "Hacksaw Ridge," the movie that showcased what a hero he truly was.
I don't know what I think Doss would have shared with me had I asked him about his incredible story, but to have been that close to the man and not at least shaken his hand is today a huge regret.
As an aside, journalists are supposed to maintain some sort of decorum and dignity in every situation, which means treating celebrities and famous people no differently than anybody else. But sometimes, well, the fanboy and girl in all of us comes out.
Everybody from Roger Staubach to Usher has been in this building over the years. For the most part, my fellow scribes have avoided asking for autographs and selfies, but I've seen that unwritten rule broken three times over the decades.
Who were the three visitors? Actor Erik Estrada from "CHiPs," Dennis Haskins from "Saved By the Bell" and Mr. McFeely from "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.