by Tommy Towery
The first issue of Lee'sTraveller (pictured above) was typed on stencils by Bob Walker and printed by yours truly on a memograph machine located in the little glass room in the back of Mrs. Parks' typing room. All the first year issues were done in the same basic way, with each issue improving just a little as we learned the newspaper trade. The next year, we took the layouts to White's Printing in Five Points and those issues were printed on high quality bond paper. The papers sold for 15 cents each and we usually made a small profit. That method of printing was still being used when I graduated from Lee in 1964. Later, after I left, the paper's size was expanded and it was printed on real newsprint. I did not get involved with Lee's Traveller for over 35 years after I received my diploma and decided on my own to start a web based newspaper for the alumni. The first issue of the internet version of Lee's Traveller hit the web on March 31, 2000, over 13 years ago. The original software and the original web site were both maintained by Homestead.com and over the years I have outgrown the capabilities of the software, but was afraid to take on the challenge of changing it. I was comfortable with what I had, and so I never accepted the fact that there might be something better or sought a better solution to something that I felt wasn't really broken.
Sue and I attend a church that has seen changes in its routine recently. The second traditional service each Sunday was combined with the contemporary service and we were forced to make some changes in our normal (and comfortable) lives. It was explained to the membership that sometimes changes must be made and sometimes people must accept the fact that those changes are inevitable and just accept and adjust to the changes or give up something they have become accustomed to.
That is the situation we now find ourselves in with Lee's Traveller. Faced with changes in computer systems, software and hardware requirements, and my own retirement and travel limitations, I found that I needed to change the way I have always done things and find a method that works better. It will take some adjustments by the readership, and I will continue to try to correct and improve the process as it ages. Surely if Sue and I can deal with changes in such a major issue in our lives as religion, you will try to accept some needed changes in something as small as a high school alumni newspaper.
I would like to revisit the topic of the creation process and life of Lee's Traveller with a reprint of an article I wrote and published in the June 11,2007 issue.
Lee's Traveller -
by Tommy Towery, Editor
Class of '64
Certain events in the last couple of weeks indicate that I need to restate some things about the concept behind Lee’s Traveller so that everyone might have a better understanding of its purpose. At the suggestion of the adviosry board I will do that. Since this is an anniversary week of sorts, it seems appropriate that I share the following information with you. Part of this story was told in the past but has been updated with current information.
This week we celebrate the 6th anniversary of doing a “weekly” issue of Lee’s Traveller online. Several of you have sent me e-mails in the past, asking how it got started and what it takes to keep something like this going week after week. This seems like a great time to take the opportunity to tell the full story.
First of all, many of you remember that I was editor of Lee’s Traveller back in 1964 when my class graduated. When I left Lee I went to what was then called Memphis State University and earned a degree in News/Editorial Journalism. Although I never wanted to be a full time news reporter, I did enjoy learning the skills it took to write news and feature stories. Later on, while in the Air Force, I earned another degree in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland. The writing skills and the technology skills became a successful combination when the world wide web became so popular in the late 1990s.
In 2000, I had already worked on setting up and maintaining several websites at my office, and was becoming quite skilled in the process. When I was teaching small businesses how to establish themselves on the internet, I saw an opportunity to use those same skills and the world wide web to create a site for the ’64-’65-’66 alumni of Lee High School. Since those three classes have taken the opportunity to combine resources when it came time for reunions, they were the focus of my main audience. My original goal was to have a “meeting place” to exchange information about the upcoming 2000 reunion.
As I was working on setting up the web site, I found out that a classmate from 1968 was also thinking of doing the same for his class. He was not as far along with his design or moving in the same direction or speed in setting one up as I was. I contacted him and told him of my idea, sent him a sample link to view what I was doing, and asked if he wanted to cooperate on a multi-class site. He said that it was his idea and he was working on one for all the alumni including our classes. He stated that had been trying to work on his for several months, and by his own statement, had put it on the back burner because he did not have the time to devote to it.
I suggested to him that one site for all the alumni would include too many people and might be more than one person can handle and do a good job. When I showed him what I had done, he must have felt threatened because he quickly registered the web name that I was considering and started sending out notices that his site was the “official” site for all Lee High Alumni. I should point out that recently I noticed that site has ceased to exist, and the web name had not been renewed by the owner but is still unavailable.
At that time, our reunion committee had just started working on the 2000 reunion. I contacted them, told them of my idea, and asked for approval of my site as the official site for our three class years and was granted that status. The reunion committee was getting together at Carol Jean’s house for a session, and so I found a web hosting service and created a simple web page. I drove down to Huntsville that weekend and showed them how it could be used to help spread the word about the upcoming reunion. The night we all got together to view it, everyone seemed pleased with the concept.
I was only given “official status” for the site by those three year groups, and that is why 1967 and 1968 were not added to our site. Although we are the ’64-’65-‘66 official site, other class year alumni along with anyone else who wants to join in with us are welcomed as visitors with full participation rights.
The official launch of the site was March 31, 2000, with the initial idea of having a place to post notices about reunion activities and to keep everyone informed about the progress being made on reunion plans. The concept of a weekly newspaper was not part of the original plans.
Reunion update information and a few photos were added in a random and arbitrary order over the next few months. The method used to update the site was to remove the older stuff and replace it with new stuff on the same page. Most of these items were just notices about the upcoming reunion and not really stories. The manner used did not back up the old pages or content, and as a result, most of those items were lost. A few of the stories were saved however, but not all of the content of the site. I still have a way to recall any issue done since June 10, 2001, so if you are interested in a back issue then please contact me.
At the reunion in August, 2000, I made a public announcement of the availability of the website and the site’s address was posted in the directory. Apparently very few classmates either heard the announcement or read the directory, because some of those that attended that reunion still have not visited the site. The updates continued past the reunion at random times, but were not of a frequency that people knew when to visit and read the new stuff.
Finally on June 10, 2001, the first issue of a "weekly" website was posted. It included mainly stories written by me and e-mail responses to those stories and ideas from many classmates. The weekly idea continued, again only with limited usage by many.
On July 23, 2001, the web page first used the name Lee’s Traveller. I had not used that name before because I thought that the Lee High School newspaper was still using that name and I did not want to conflict with them. When I found that Lee had changed the name of the paper, I adopted the Lee’s Traveller name to the site. Lee’s Traveller was the name given to our first high school paper by Woody Beck. Mrs. Parks was the sponsor of that paper and felt that the name (which came from the name of Robert E. Lee’s horse) was a fitting name for a school paper.
Since that first weekly issue on June 10, 2001, we have missed only one week in putting out a weekly edition. That was the week following September 11, 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist event, and I ended up having to drive to Iowa instead of flying so I was unable to meet the deadline. We have not missed another weekly issue since that date. So, officially, we have missed only one week of giving you news and memories in the last 364 weeks.
NOTE: Since that was written in 2007, we have gone another six years without missing an issue giving us uninterrupted issues for 676 weeks.
Also, I am making the mission statement available for viewing by clicking on the link in the left navigation column. It also covers the acceptable topics from submitters.
As we continue to evolve, you might also see changes made to give the largest amount of viewers the best experience possible.
Honolulu, HI - Aloha Classmates from the 50th state. Can you remember where you were the day it became a state? I was still at Huntsville Junior High. Sue and I are traveling again, and because of this trip, some long and overdue changes are happening to the website.
It has been a problem on some of my trips to keep the web site updated since I did not have full access to the software which I have used to build the website in the past. I have searched and searched for an easier way to do that with only the tablet that I like to travel with, and finally came up with this option. I will try it for a few months and see if I can do what I wish to do with it and if you accept the changes. I have discovered some problems with how the page is displayed on an iPad or other tablet computer and I am working on a solution.
One thing that I expect to happen is that I will be able to keep a running index of the past issues in the column to the left of the page and that way you can easily review some of the past issues without having to go one week at a time.
So, let's give it a chance to work out and please send me your suggestions and comments.
Your Favorite Songs Prior
To High School Graduation
Featuring White in the Title
Craig Bannecke, LHS '65 - Well Tommy, I missed it on Blue, after seeing the submissions of" Blue Moon" and the Fleetwoods "I'm Mr. Blue". Clearly, those were the favorites. Plus all these years I have know John Drummond, I'm some what perturbed that he never told me he moon lighted as the lead singer for the Fleetwood's "Who Knew ?" But I digress..... "White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation" is my favorite. It was a big hit for Marty Robbins in 1957 charting at #2 for 5 weeks on the Top Country Charts. Every Spring just before graduation WAAY radio would play White Sports Coat as all the Huntsville high school Seniors were preparing for their Proms and Graduations. Even to this day when I hear this song played which is rare, it brings back fond memories of a magic time in all our lives when the high school right of passage to adulthood began with this song.
Jeff Fussell, LHS '66 - First up and top of my list is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. While this tune dates back to 1942 written for the movie “Holiday Inn” and featured again in the 1954 movie “White Christmas”, it is a timeless song that can’t be tied to any decade. It’s been covered by dozens of artists, but none have ever come close to Bing.
A tip of the hat and honorable mention to Marty Robbins’ 1957 hit “A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation), Procol Harum’s beautiful “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (1967), and Cream’s “White Room” from their 1968 masterpiece “Wheels of Fire”.
Tommy Towery, LHS '64 - The first song that came to my mind (after the obvious choice of White Christmas) was the fast paced Southern song by George Jones, "White Lightning." Only after hearing from Craig did I revise my "favorite" song before I graduated from Lee to his choice of "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation.' I think this was every boy's dream of the perfect outfit to wear to a prom. Back then I could not afford to rent a tuxedo but I usually had a white sport coat hanging in my closet left over from Easter. When the prom really came, I wore a black suit. That did not make much of a subject for a song though.
Your Favorite Song Prior to High School Graduation
With Green in the Title?
Remember, it does not have to be a song that came out while you were in high school but only one that was a favorite before you graduated from high school. This is basically any song that you liked before you graduated. (or left school).
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Dee Clark
Tommy thanks so much for reminding me what a great singer Dee Clark truly was. He is no longer with us. The road stories he told me about touring with Sam Cooke and The Supremes and Chuck Berry and more are priceless.
Subject: Blue Songs
Subject: Craig Bannecke
The picture of Craig Bannecke dove hunting was great. Looks the part with his dog and all. Nothing like what I did this last weekend with my brother in law, Sammy. First, no dogs to fetch the birds. If you can't drop them close then you are doing something wrong...at least that's his excuse. I am not a big bird hunter, but I do have a couple of shotguns.
Please send comments and suggestions to email@example.com