This is the e-mail that I wrote to my newsroom to say goodbye.
From: James, Andrea
Sent: Friday, August 25, 2006 4:16 PM
To: *Newsroom Group;
Subject: That lucky old sun
Thank you so much for the past year and a half.
I’ve had the time of my life in Mobile and it’s been an honor to work with all of you.
(For anyone who isn’t plugged into the Register rumor mill: I heard Steve Myers was coming back to town so I took a job as far away as possible. Barring any hurricanes that mess up my flight plans, I will start as a business reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Sept. 19.)
This is a great newspaper full of competent people. We miss that sometimes in the day-to-day shuffle — but you are truly working for one of the best newspapers in the South and the most aggressive newspaper in the state. It informs and unites South Alabama, a growing vibrant community on the beautiful Gulf Coast. People here read their newspaper. In many towns, that isn’t the case.
It’s been a privilege to work here and be a part of that.
Also, I just hope you realize what a special and unique part of the world you live in. The geography and the mix of Alabama, Southern, Gulf Coast and beach cultures all blend to produce the quirky city that is Mobile.
I once wrote home to my family in New Jersey, “The trees are bigger. The talk is slower. The weather is hotter. The food is spicier. These things combine, I think, to make the people more eccentric.” — Nowhere is that more true than in this newsroom. (We all know who I’m talking about.) And I’ve loved every bit of it!
When I came here on my interview, Mike Marshall gave me a copy of “Stars Fell on Alabama,” by Carl Carmer. (You didn’t want that back, did you Mike?)
Although it was written in the 1920s, his words capture Mobile in a way that mine can not. He calls it “a city of intimacies that have stood the test of time.” Indeed, his descriptions hold true today, almost 90 years after they were written. So I share select excerpts from his chapter on the Port City:
Mobile stays in the heart, loveliest of cities. I have made many journeys down the Black Warrior and I have always found happiness at its mouth. Few travelers “pass through” Mobile. The old city rests apart, remembering the five flags that have flown over her. Spain and France and England and the Old South, grown harmonious through the mellowing of time, are echoes in the streets.
The air is soft in Mobile — filled with sea moisture. The tropics reach toward the town from the south. Palms raise straight trunks to the greening tufts that cap them. Fig trees and oleanders, magnolias and Cape jasmine, Cherokee roses and azaleas make the breezes heavy with sweet odor through the long warm season. It is a gentle air.
With all its outward semblance of calm, Mobile is gayest of American cities. Its free spirit, less commercialized than that of New Orleans, has kept its Gallic love of the fantastic and amusing. Behind the ornate balconies and long French windows that sedately face the streets live a people to whom carnival is a natural heritage.
It is easy to become adapted to the rhythm of this city. Acquaintances gradually become friends. The processes of earning a living are slow and comparatively unimportant to the living itself. Dignity and charm and gayety permeate life there. Mobile is a city of the lotos – bringing forgetfulness of everything except the pleasant passing of the hours.
Thank you for your friendship, for many firsts (sweet tea, crawfish and Mardi Gras to name a few), and the pleasant passing of the hours.
Please keep in touch.