Segars remembers times with Franklin at The Chronicle

What can I offer my good friend Larry Franklin as he contemplates retirement in only a matter of weeks? Advice? I’m sure he’s already gotten plenty of that. Money? I don’t have any. Old whiskey and a long cigar? Well maybe we can share. I was in about my 13th month of contemplating the true meaning of life the other day and my meandering mind suddenly locked on my old friend, now crowned with a shock of white hair. Damn, I thought, ole Larry is getting old. But he is, to my chagrin, a couple of years younger than I am. Surely, life holds more for my good, aging friend than bedpans and teeth in a glass. Ironically, he and I got started in the same place, and, more than 40 years later, we are ending our careers at about the same time and in about the same locale. To his great credit, he has a great love and respect for the print industry. He stuck with it, in the same location for more than 40 years. I wandered to the dark side and became a government man. He is more courageous than I ever was, to practice the art of local newspapers with a dedication and talent that really requires an inner strength uncommon in these days of fake news, blathering talking heads and enough hypocrisy to spin great journalists in their graves. I met Larry Franklin in the winter of 1975. Donny Wilder, the best editor I will ever know, took a chance on a much disoriented 25-year-old who had survived two years of graduate school and a brief stint in the United States Army. An old college professor had summed up my life in an off-hand comment. “I believe Mr. Segars has some sense but he has the appearance of an unmade bed.” To be truthful, that was really an unfair attack on beds. I guess Larry was my first, and maybe best, professional colleague. He was the advertising manager for the Chronicle in those days, which meant, really, that he hit the bricks every day, convincing sullen business owners that, yes, there is great value in quarter page ads in a weekly newspaper. Larry was grounded, married to his delightful Janice and a member in good standing of the Clinton Rotary Club. He wore a coat and tie at a time when I came to work after a long night in an unmatched pair of loafers. Larry was a professional making his way in a career of his choosing and I was an unmatched loafer. Still, he was, and is, a thoroughly decent and honorable man. If Donny Wilder can take a chance on this strange one from Cross Hill, he could do the same. We became good friends immediately and, now, as doting grandfathers, that friendship remains. The Chronicle in those days was, to me, great fun and an adventure. I actually learned something valuable about life as I covered the late Charles Cummins at District 56 and the late Leon Gilbert, one of the best city managers Clinton was fortunate to hire. Back at the office, I became a champion “inserter” in the press room. Sophisticates at the New York Times could never know the joy of inserting newspapers. It came down to simple math. When you publish a 24-page newspaper on an offset press with a maximum web of 12 pages, somebody has got to put Section B inside of Section A. Part of that was my job and I got to be damn good at it. I loved, and still do, the sights, sounds and smells of a well-run press room. The men in the back took me under their wing and, while I could already swear when I got to the Chronicle, I got a lot better at it after five years. nI also learned to flip a cigarette butt, lit end up, about 29 feet. Enough nostalgia. I want to commend and congratulate my friend Larry Brock Franklin for an extraordinary career in one place. As I told him in an e-mail earlier, he was fair and honest in the news coverage and fearless in his commentary on the major issues of the day. The Clinton community and local newspapers are the poorer for his leaving. Congratulations, my friend The first round’s on me. (Ernie Segars is the former associate editor of The Chronicle and retired as the Laurens County Administrator.)

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