Carl Langley told great stories

Storytelling ... that's what journalism is all about.

-- Tom Brokaw

At the heart of any good newspaper reporter is a storyteller, and former staff writer Carl Langley, who passed away over the weekend, was a good one.

I came to know Carl in the 1970s when he worked in this newsroom for the Augusta Herald .

It was in the idle moments when you've sent the day's copy out and are awaiting the page proofs that I remember Carl telling two of the funniest stories I've ever heard.

One involved a Northern traveler driving over a bridge in Screven or Emanuel County back in the 1950s.

It was a hot day, and the motorist had the windows of his car down when a buzzard flew into his vehicle.

It couldn't get out, but it flapped and squawked and the driver couldn't steer off the road because he was on a bridge.

Carl told it beautifully -- part Jerry Clower, part Lewis Grizzard -- it was hilarious.

I would tell it to you, but ... it's not my story. It's Carl's. And I couldn't do it justice.

But speaking of justice, the second story involved a civil rights protest in some rural South Carolina county in the 1950s or 1960s.

Carl said a black woman, tired of being pushed around by white deputies, had emptied her purse of the things women keep in purses, and inserted a brick.

When the time presented itself, she swung that purse in short arc and brought it down on a bully's head.

Carl swore he had taken a photograph of this moment of impact, but someone else had purloined the negatives and sent them to Life magazine for a lucrative fee.

I don't know if that last part is true, but it was a great story.

Carl was a great guy.

POLLEN POWER: Most of us gripe about the yellow dust blanketing our cars this time of year, but not everyone.

I heard a youth minister last week encourage youngsters to pray that any rain wait until this weekend's church parking lot car wash.

"We want those cars really dirty by the weekend," he said.

SKIN GAME: Frank Allen writes in to offer this tip:

"Reference your mention of cracked skin on finger tips in your article. I found that what does help if you already have cracked skin on finger tips in cold weather is to use a Chap Stick lip balm many times a day on the cracked skin to heal and eliminate the pain. The Chap Stick medication stays on longer than other first aid creams I have tried, and is easy to keep with you."

Thanks, Frank. I still find relief in sealing the cracks with Super Glue. Except last week, when I didn't let a finger "patch" completely dry. It was still sticky enough to take some of the finish off my car's interior door handle, and permanently bond it to my finger tip.

TODAY'S JOKE: A barber gave a haircut to a priest one day. The priest tried to pay for the haircut, but the barber refused, saying, "You do God's work."

The next morning the barber found a dozen Bibles at the door to his shop.

A policeman came to the barber for a haircut, and again the barber refused his pay, saying, "You protect the public."

The next morning the barber found a dozen doughnuts at the door to his shop.

A lawyer came to the barber for a haircut, and again the barber refused payment, saying, "You serve the justice system."

The next morning the barber found a dozen lawyers waiting for a free haircut.

More

Kirby: Letter of reference from pastor can help a lot

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.

– Theodore Roosevelt

I always tell... Read more

Kirby: Looking back on a historic blast from the past

The wheels on the bus go round ...

– Child's song

City traffic was disrupted and thousands of commuters... Read more

Kirby: Boozing, bicycling offered as cold cures

To stay ahead , you must have your next idea waiting in the wings.

– Rosabeth Moss Kanter

 ... Read more

Drivers have come a long way

No one wants advice – only corroboration.

– John Steinbeck

The amazing thing about driving a... Read more