FLORENCE GILKESON: Sad Farewell To Our Office In Carthage
Woodrow Wilhoit was not an editor, but in many ways he personified the traditional "editorial we."
That definition dates back to the days when most newspapers were small and provincial. The editor often was the only employee. That meant he sold ads, gathered and wrote news, wrote editorials, put the newspaper together, ran the press, delivered the paper, kept the accounts and collected payments. That justified a plural pronoun.
For years, Woodrow was the go-to guy for multiple services while he worked for The Pilot. As head of our Carthage bureau, Woodrow covered all the news in and about Carthage, and he knew everything and everyone in town.
He covered Town Board meetings, Chamber Council meetings, church events, Rotary activities, and oh how he did cover sports events, especially all athletics at Union Pines High. He took advertisements, handled subscriptions, answered questions and was all things to all people.
When The Pilot assigned me to Carthage, the newspaper never intended me to follow in Woodrow's footsteps. No one could do that. Still, the people of Carthage and even to the north and west of town managed to find this office in its convenient location in the block beyond the historic courthouse and across the street from the Courts Facility.
Although I had covered county government for The Pilot since the late 1970s, I still felt new when I moved into this office with fellow reporter John Chappell and the late Carolyn Lewis, who worked part-time helping with office duties and with the Moore County Telephone Directory.
Despite their warm welcome, some Carthaginians regarded me warily as if I were an upstart trying to follow in Woodrow's footsteps.
One businessman eyed me with suspicion when I took my car to his garage for inspection. He eyed my registration address, which of course was in Laurinburg, then asked why I was in Carthage. I told him about our new office and its location, only to have him ask about Woodrow. He continued to look suspicious, even after I told him that Woodrow was in poor health, was a patient at Pinelake and no longer worked for The Pilot. (Woodrow died in 2001).
But I felt welcome here almost from day one. People dropped by to say hello. I was the recipient of home-grown flowers and garden-fresh tomatoes and squash.
By the time you read this, I will no longer be in the Carthage office. The Pilot has closed its office in the county seat and has called me back to the main office in Southern Pines, where I started out in October 1978 when Sam Ragan was editor and publisher. The offices there are now twice the size they were in those days, and the technology changes are mind-boggling. It will not be the same.
I will miss Carthage and the sound of the Bicentennial clock across the street on the Courts Facility plaza, maybe even the noisy street in front of this building. And I will miss the beautiful yards that bloom so gloriously every spring. Most of all I will miss the people.
The return to Southern Pines will shorten my commuting time from Laurinburg by about 20 minutes, but I will miss the convenience of dropping in at the courthouse, the Ag Center, the Elections office, the Planning Department, and the Animal Shelter, just to name a few.
The decision to close this office was not mine. The Pilot is not abandoning Carthage by any means. I will continue to cover county government and related subjects. And John Chappell will continue to cover the news of Carthage and Robbins and other parts of northern Moore County.
You can still drop in on me. You'll just have to come to Southern Pines, and remember, parking there is no worse than it usually is in Carthage.
I'm on vacation this week but hope to see you soon.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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