Former editor's toughness challenged me to get better

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- Thomas Paine

Let me tell you about Harold Reames.

He died on New Year's Eve and was buried Wednesday in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

The notice in the paper was pretty standard. It mentioned his love for the Carolina Gamecocks and his love of writing music and poetry.

It also mentioned that he was a former city desk editor of The Augusta Chronicle.

Well, he was all of those things, but like many of us he was a lot more.

For one thing, Harold was an editing prodigy. When he joined The Chronicle in the 1970s, he advanced quickly.

In fact, he might have been the youngest editor The Chronicle city desk ever had.

He was talented in other ways. On Saturday nights after editing the first edition, Harold liked to take out his guitar and strum some soft folk ballad in the mostly empty weekend newsroom.

"A quick mind," his old boss Jim Osteen remembered when I brought it up last week. A challenging mind, too.

Harold and I seemed to spend all our time arguing.

Every time I would turn in what I thought was the perfect news story, Harold would quickly find its flaws.

He was a stickler for The Associated Press Stylebook and its hundreds of well-known and lesser-known rules. Our exchanges were collegial, only in the way that Clemson and Carolina play collegial football.

At first I got mad, but then I decided to do something about it.

I took home my AP Stylebook and read it. And read it. And read it.

I learned those rules because I wanted to show Harold Reames that I knew as much about writing as he did.

Eventually he left The Chronicle to do something else. I know that he remained in the area, occasionally writing letters to the editor.

Now he's gone.

I hadn't talked to Harold in almost 30 years. For most of those years I didn't want to, but now I wish I had. I would have thanked him for pushing me to get better.

There's something about time that wears out grudges, and I know I've long forgotten whatever harsh words were exchanged.

There's also something about time that remembers the good in all of us.

That's why when I think of Harold I see him on a Saturday night sitting in an empty newsroom playing his guitar and waiting for that final edition to come off the press.

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JohnSorrells
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JohnSorrells 01/07/07 - 05:05 pm
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Sorry to learn about Harold's

Sorry to learn about Harold's death. Your recollections of Harold as an excellent editor match mine. I also recall another love he had; a late '70s model Monte Carlo, and woe be unto anyone who said something derogatory about Chevrolets.

Back in those days, too poor to go out, we spent many a weekend night at our house in North Augusta with potluck dinners, bring your own beverages and guitar-pickin' sessions with editors Tom Hutchison, Ed Dawson, David Lotts, Harold and various other Chronicle editors and staffers.

We all took turns playing a favorite song, and Harold always led off his turn with "Fire on the Mountain," made famous by South Carolina's own Marshall Tucker Band. I always thought he did their song proud, and I still recall the opening riff and chord progression for the song that he taught me, although I seldom pick up the guitar anymore.

David Lotts was killed several years ago in a motorcyle accident, and I lost track of many of the other Chronicle editors and reporters of my era, but I always hoped that Harold would some day find the "gold in them hills that was waitin' for me there." He certainly deserved it.

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