Editorial board opinion: Lehrer honored Victoria with his visit

By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 25, 2010 at 1:25 a.m.
Updated June 27, 2010 at 1:27 a.m.

We were honored to have a visit here at the Advocate from PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer on Friday morning. He was in Victoria for the National Korean War Conference.

Advocate senior reporter David Tewes briefly chatted with Lehrer, who shook Tewes' hand. "I was honored," Tewes said. "I'll never wash my hand again."

With good reason: Lehrer is a national figure, renowned for his journalistic work and for the 20 or so novels he has written.

Lehrer interviewed also with Advocate reporter Erica Rodriguez for a story, as well as Broadcast News Editor Bill Clough, who created a video story for online publication.

At the Advocate, Lehrer commented that the newsroom (now on the second floor) used to be on the first floor back in the 1950s. He had come to the Advocate while he was attending classes at Victoria College. Many of us at the Advocate wish we could have been at work when Lehrer showed up with local historian Charles Spurlin, who organized the Korean War Conference.

Most people know Lehrer for his journalistic work as news anchor for PBS NewsHour and as moderator for presidential candidate debates. He started at PBS in 1975 with the MacNeil/Lehrer Report with Robert MacNeil. Later, the show was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour followed by The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

What Lehrer remembers about Victoria has to do with education, writing and buses. Yes, he loves buses and worked for Trailways while in Victoria as a ticket agent and attended Victoria College in the 1950s. At Victoria College he worked with the student newspaper and brought it to the Advocate for printing.

The bus station was across the street from the Leo Welder Performing Arts Center at Goodwin and Main streets. It was part of the setting for his 1996 New York bestseller "White Widow."

"'White Widow' comes literally out of my life as a Trailways ticket agent. I came away from the experience permanently fascinated with the men who drive those big inter-city buses. Forty years later, that fascination grew into my desire to write a novel about the loves and dramas of their work and lives. I created Jack Oliver, one of the best there was on the Houston-Corpus Christi run, and away he and his story went. Before I could stop him, he had fallen madly in love with a passenger . "White Widow" is the result," Lehrer had commented in his author's note.

Lehrer is a great writer. In his "White Widow," he used Shakespearean elements for drama, such as storms to denote tragedy and many asides to show the complex character of Jack Oliver.

We say again that we are honored to have this wonderful author and newsman visit our community. And we want him to know that he is always welcome in Victoria.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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