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If your last name was Avant-garde, you would be expected to have some cutting-edge skills.

Well, Zaila Avant-garde certainly qualifies.

The 14-year-old became the first Black champion in the 93-year history of the Scripps Spelling Bee, winning the annual event Thursday night by correctly spelling "Murraya," which is defined as "a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals."

If you say so.

But beyond her historic victory, Avant-garde's skillset is far beyond "remember I before E except after C and when it makes the sound of 'a' as in neighbor or weigh."

Avant-garde holds several basketball-handling Guinness world records, including the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously.

Wow.

 

WRONG NUMBER

In the times of COVID-19, food delivery folks like Uber Eats have become more common and offer more options.

But we're officially through the looking glass when DoorDash is offering Chuck E. Cheese deliveries.

Who in their ever-loving pizza mind would think of that mechanical mouse in their first 15 pizza choices? Seriously?

That dairy-covered cardboard is a gooey bridge to birthday cake as the kids-version of a casino hums in the background, powered by hundreds of dollars in tokens gladly spent for thousands of tickets redeemable for dollars worth of prizes.

 

THE COST OF HONESTY

So, late last month, a 62-year-old man in Gillette, Wyoming, allegedly called his local sheriff's department wondering why he wasn't arrested when authorities raided his home the previous day.

Sheriff's department employee Quentin Reynolds asked the man why he should have been arrested, and our too-honest 62-year-old reportedly admitted that he had been using meth.

That, Reynolds deduced, was why the caller imagined the deputies raided his home. The caller allegedly told Reynolds that 10 men were following him as well.

Deputies caught up with the caller as he was driving away from his residence and arrested him, shockingly, for driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

 

OBIT OBSERVATIONS

It happened June 29, but a true pioneer here in Chattanooga died last month.

Horace Traylor, the first Black graduate from the University of Chattanooga, died in Miami. He was 90.

Traylor graduated from Zion College in Chattanooga in 1953, becoming the first Black person to earn a bachelor's degree in the city, according to a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga news release. He was the president of Zion College from 1959 to 1964, when the institution was renamed Chattanooga City College and where he continued to serve until the 1969 merger with UTC. He got a master's degree in education from the University of Chattanooga in 1965.

Here's more from a UTC news release:

"His commitment to higher education paved the way for generations of young people and lifelong learners to experience the transformational impact of achieving a college degree," UTC Chancellor Steve Angle said of Traylor. "Our city and our university are better because of his leadership. While we mourn the loss of Dr. Traylor, we also recognize and celebrate his achievements from a life well-lived."

Well done, Doc, well done indeed.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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