Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Voice and Lesson from the Past

Hi all,

I was reading some of my old columns from when I was writing for a paper in South Texas. This column from TEN YEARS ago was as true back then as it is today. I feel we as adults have a responsibility to our youth (blood kin or not) about drinking and the dangers of it. We had a young, vibrant girl die in a collision. The city was shocked even though this type of death was becoming too common. A letter appeared in the newspaper that struck a cord with me... the following column was the result.....
ps- I substituted the name of the city with x-x-x-x..... for personal reasons.


Porch Talk 02-24-99
by Jay `3 Bites' Wilson

I read a `Letters to the Editor' last week in this paper that bothered me and I felt I had to speak out. I speak for myself and only myself.
The letter was written by a concerned student who voiced an opinion of how she, as well as the student body of x-x-x-x, felt about the picture of a `Car Accident' on the front page. In that collision a x-x-x-x High School Student lost her life. It is a sad thing to lose a child or any loved one in any fashion but ... in a senseless collision, the word tragic just isn't enough. Such a loss can not be measured in any way by the simple use of words. Her fault, their fault, or my fault doesn't matter now. She is lost to
us but there is a lesson to be learned.
I agree one hundred percent that the photo showing the car smashed and upside down was a horrible thing. Any scene depicting the place of a death is horrible. I have seen dozens and dozens of them due to serving as a Police Officer and as an Ambulance Attendant for many years. They each tear a little part out of you and it never heals.
I feel for the friends and certainly the family of the young lady who's life was snuffed out in her prime. Their loss is great and not understood by most. The loss of their daughter is a burden they will carry for the rest of their lives. Memories of her will make them smile on good days and bring tears on the bad ones. And sometimes, the smiles will come anytime as will the tears.
I found myself looking at her picture in the obits. She was a pretty, bright, and a well liked person. In her short sixteen years, she left her mark on the world and on the hearts of many. It is sad that none of us will ever see where she could have gone due to a senseless wreck.
A photo of the car was taken by a local news person which is customary for the paper. A decision was made to put it `front page'. The photo told the whole story. But then, maybe there is the reason why the picture was and should be located there. Words can't say what the photo did.
I do feel for the students that were `shocked' by the picture. But maybe, just maybe, a lesson was not taught, but SHOWN to our x-x-x-x youth. The picture only emphasizes what the writer of the `Editor Letter' stated:
"The life of a teenager with many dreams was lost. It is an awakening to all of us. An awakening that came too late. There is a problem in this town with drinking..."
That was a great letter that voices concern for our youth ... by our youth. There have been many things written in magazines and newspapers. I have used my column to try to raise an awareness. Still these useless wrecks take place. There were two that same weekend with one having a happier ending. Still, there's too many lives being lost.
If a picture of an upside down vehicle scares, shocks, or horrifies one student into driving a little more safely, than so be it. The picture was not put there except to draw attention to the tragedy .. and it did. And after reading about this most special sixteen year old and talking to some of her friends, I believe she would want that picture on the front page. I believe, if that photo could get the attention of all her friends and that `shock' saved one of them from dying in a collision, she would approve. She cared for too many people for me to believe anything else.
I know this column is going to be hard for the family and for that, I apologize. Some will think of me as callused, some will think of me as not understanding. They would be wrong on both accounts. You see, this column is not easy for me to write. I have shed tears and fought emotions while writing it. I do understand what it means to bury a child. Molly and I buried one of our sons. We don't like to talk to people about it because it's personal. However, if talking about it in my column would serve a just end, I
The author of the `Editor Letter' should be praised, She wrote a fine letter with many thoughts that most of our x-x-x-x students, as well as adults, don't want to recognize. We do have a problem and I feel good that some of our youth has stated it. It's not the solution but it is a beginning. They passed the ball. Now what are we going to do with it?


I received more comments on this column than any 10 columns before (all supportive). And the ball did get rolling to help our community..

my best


  1. Very moving Jay. We have the same problems here with teenage drinking and speeding. 6 people have died in the year above me from high school all on the same roads, all at different times over the past few years since I have been out of school. Too many lives are lost on our roads, and if your column touched just one student and prevented them from the same then you have done so well. Always love to read your posts. Sam

  2. I remember this sad time, and I hope it never comes around again.

  3. Great thought. Hopefully the kids of xxxxx learned their lesson and history won't repeat itself (as it often does).

  4. Great column Jay. I'm always shocked when I see a photo like that front page because I feel for the family. As you know they're in enough pain. But I never thought of the impact on the teen's friends. I'm sure even the parents, in their grief, would approve of the photo if it saved just one other parent's child. Well written.

  5. Beautifully said Jay. It is a problem all over the country. These kids need things like that photo on the front page to make them think.

  6. Great post and column. Glad you have your own blog too. My Uncle got hit by a drunk driver when he was 17, it paralyzed him from the waist down. He passed away at 43 from Kidney failure. My Husbands Dad was hit and killed by a car load of drunk teen drivers. (I never got to meet him) I'm glad you were proactive in getting some changes rolling.