Notes from Jackson Street: Realities of growing up


By JOHN A. WINTERS, Publisher

“Yes sir, Mr. Winters.”

Damn. A polite kid. 

The “Yes sir” didn’t bother me at all. Nice kid. Obviously from good parents. He will go far, especially since politeness is sorely lacking these days. 

But the “Mr. Winters” part, yeah, didn’t really need that. And the simple reason is that for decades when anyone said “Mr. Winters,” I just turned around looking for my dad. 

For years I have asked people to call me “John,” when the “Mister …” starts rolling off their tongues. I say the same thing every time, “my dad is Mr. Winters, I’m just John.”

“Yes sir, Mr. … John.” 

For about 25 years I worked for Morris Communications. It was a private family media company that included about 30 newspapers from Georgia to Alaska, Texas to Kansas. William S. Morris III was the chairman. It was one of the largest privately held media companies back in the day.

He made it very clear that his name was “Billy.” And he expected you to call him that. He is the quintessential Southern gentleman with one of those classic Southern drawls and treated everyone with respect. 

He was a wonderful mentor to me and gave me incredible opportunities in my career. I think you could say you worked with Billy, not for him. At least that is always how I felt. He was about as unpretentious as they come.

I’ll admit wavering between “Billy” and “Mr. Morris,” on occasion, and he would kinda give me a sideways look if I went with the latter. I always admired that about him, one of the richest men in the state and everyone knew him as “Billy.”

 I guess my problem with “Mr. Winters” is that it means I’m growing up. Ha, I’m getting old is the truth of the matter. 

It does not happen often, but every now and then I get carded at the grocery store. I find this insulting. Don’t I look like I’m over 21? This especially irritates me when I have my 18 or 21-year-old son with me. 

I can feel their snicker. 

So I will look at the young lady and point out I am probably three times her age. 

And she will respond with a “yes sir.” Again, nice kid. Obviously from good parents. She will go far, especially since politeness is sorely lacking these days. 

I will not win this standoff, so I hand over my ID. She looks at it …

Don’t, please don’t.

“Thank you Mr. Winters.”

Leave a reply