A True Tale From My Newspaper Days: "Jackie" and the Mayor
This is a
true narrative about a real guy, "Jackie Davis," and unless you are prone to believe everything you see and hear, there is NO ONE with that name in this or any of my works. I wanted to keep my friend's real name a secret--and more to honor his name. Thanks in advance for reading. Kenneth
My Friend, "Jackie" Stood
a good 6’, 3” with hands as big as a Halloween pumpkin. Davis was loud, sometimes obnoxiously-funny, and hated sports.
Jackie Davis loved two things: George Dickel and drinking. Any two-cent dunce knew that, and could see it throughout each day of the work week. I seen it once. I was seriously-amazed.
But Dickel and drinking aside, Davis was arguably the best Beat Reporter, bar none in the area of Atlanta, GA., There were those who argued that a few news-writers in the two daily papers in Spartanburg, SC, where elite hard news-writers worked. These chumps were very liberal—always making a barge-load of cash. I was just there for the ride—on the morning that I met Davis, a day that fwill survive forever in Newsprint History as well and re-told and expanded numerous times in Back Room Poker Palaces and Drinking Emporiums.
It had been my long-time dream to meet Jackie Davis, a Writing Legend if one really lived. There he sat, punching his electric Royal typewriter as if it were an annoying guy next door named, Bill, a noted bum, liar, and bet welsher, who Davis had just walked in his front door to see this snake, Bill, kissing his wife, Manda, who probably welcomed the hot kisses, but didn’t say either way--when Davis who in his wide-open mode of throwing his bulky fists into each empty place in Bill’s face. Sad when a potential-adulterer gets his butt handed to him. Adultery is a dangerous game.
Davis, (after whipping Bill), went to the kitchen and grabbed a brand new bottle of George Dickel, poured himself a double, gulped it down like spring water, and sat down in the living room staring at Bill who was feeling so busted, that he dared not make Davis any further PO’d than he already was. Manda, playing the role of a remorseful wife, married (and divorced) 12 years to Tony Masters and now married (for 22 years to Jackie) and now on her way to a second divorce. Things for Mandy had not worked out well. But she knew how to manipulate the Georgia Court System to get as much Alimony as humanly-possible. The bankers loved Manda. If she got hungry, she could eat.
Davis downed another double, walked over to where Bill was still staring at the floor worried about how bad Jackie was going to finish beating him like a mangy stray dog that lives safely in a dark alley on the Dangerous Side of Atlanta—where rumor had it that on certain nights, a gang of wild drug addicts filled the alley chanting Anti-Police jingles while under the spell of their drug of choice. In this case, it could have been Mary Jane, Horse, or Blow. To an Atlanta drug addict, no one with any born sense ever checked to see if it mattered.
“So, you leaving, Manure Mouth?” Jackie said between sips of his drink.
“Uh, yeah . . .sure, Jackie,” Bill stuttered and stood up. “But, Jackie, I . . .”
“Shut your mouth, ‘Bill,’ or I will, No. Tell ya’ what, there ‘Bill.’ You leave. Never darken my door. And take Manda with ya,” Jackie said lighting an unfiltered Camel—still getting tight from his drinks.
“Give it!” Jackie yelled. “Now! . . .all of it!” he said not looking at her. Jackie knew her tricks—and knew that she was only after his cash from the look of her purse bulging. Jackie thwarted what might have been a clean get-away (by Manda) and his Drinking cash that he had stashed away inside of his top dresser drawer.
What a sad scene. Jackie, now staggering from the Dickel and Manda all-but running to try and beg Bill for cab fare. Now it was just him, George Dickel, and his electric Royal typewriter that had been with him through now-one nasty break-up, three or four serious drinking binges, and fights with strangers in whatever bar he happened to be in at the time, and the clothes on his back-- suits, shirts, and pants (with pleated pants) that were hanging in his one closet.
That was the first story that Jackie relayed to me about where he came from and why he was sitting in the City Room of The Atlanta Ledger, pounding-out a very disciplined front page story about some rather suspicious commotions that had taken place in the mayor’s office—and the commotions were rumored to be Mayor Tucker with his hot personal assistant, GiGi Stewart, a great looking woman of 32, divorced, no kids, and great legs.
Mayor Tucker’s expensive Mahogany desk had scratch marks, according to the City Detectives, but Mayor Tucker laughed (to the press), as he explained that those scratches were made by him trying to catch his wife’s pet cat, “Zulu,” a pedigree Persian, that he had taken to work to cat-sit “Zulu” that day when his wife, Karole was taking a personal day to visit her sister in Douglas, GA. Karole was on Tucker’s City Payroll as a City Consultant pulling down a good 65 Gs a year. Life is a circus when you have power, wealth, and a smooth mouth.
One of the (many) things that Jackie did during my meeting with him was, typing “the fool out of his Royal” so hard that some near his desk had sworn of seeing white smoke rising from his typewriter—and telling me the Mayor Tucker story without missing a beat. In Old Time Newspaper Terms . . .a man or woman who can sit or stand and write notes and carry on a sensible conversation with an innocent by-stander is the mark of one tremendous newspaper reporter and writer.
Jackie had more amazing things than just telling great stories and typing a story for his paper at the same time, he could also pull those “all nighter’s” when the paper’s three shifts were “on the clock” when the paper would publish a multi-section Special Editions and every hand was appreciated. During a Special Section mock-up and printing . . .Jackie, who had been at his desk since the previous Friday—Saturday and Sunday typing stories that wouldto run in the Special Section, stood that Sunday at 10 a.m., ran to the break-room, and was sitting sin a chair dead to the world asleep.
But according to Paul Jenkins, the First shift Press foreman, Jackie, after two hours of sleep, woke up, and in a flash ran to his desk and typed the letters from most of his keys to just get the Special Section to press. And Jackie, it had been said of his co-workers, was not among the normal human beings in our world. Jackie was never late, talked too much, or spent that much money. He always ate the worst in food choices--sardines with popcorn, for example, and his love for 90 proof whiskey. I’ve already told you about his love for George Dickel.
The most-amazing thing that I witnessed during my meeting with him was not only amazing, but something that stuck with me for years later.
Jackie, not a smoker, did like to light-up a nickel cigar, take a drag, and place it in the ashtray on his desk that he seldom emptied. Jackie was not plagued with OCD, because in this time-frame, OCD had not been discovered yet—but still, Jackie did not see himself as a slob. Just overly-spread out.
On this exciting day of meeting Davis, he would leave his desk to relieve himself in the men’s rest room down the hall, and on the way back to his desk, he would sneak outside tp the employee parking lot to where his ‘78 Vette was sitting and there he was get a few nips of his George Dickel that he had hidden underneath the front seat. He loved that Vette that he nick-named “Rust Bucket,” because as he put it, “She gets me where I need to be.”
During my meeting with Davis, I took a break to get a needed cup of coffee in the break room. When I had drank my coffee, I walked by Jackie’s desk piled high with Court summons, past-due parking tickets, empty styrofoam containers where a corned beef on rye had been several nights before and the photo of Mayor Tucker who Jackie was using to insert the photo to run with his blistering story about Tucker and Karole and their alleged “commotions” that City Hall employees allegedly said was comign from the mayor’s office.
And . . .there Jackie would go almost every two hours, like a well-oiled watch, running back to his Vette to take nips of the Dickel and this time . . .when I walked back by his desk, I heard him talking to the City editor, Mike Fuqua, who had grew up with Davis in the Print Game, and I could hear Fuqua on Jackie’s phone yelling, “put the booze away, or you will be fired,” and Jackie would keep slurring away those tough questions that Fuqua had told him to put into story form. Jackie went a step further. He was going to include Mayor Tucker’s liquor-fueled quotes with the story for a front page story of the Evening Edition, Jackie’s favorite place in the entire paper.
With the conversation with Fuqua being over, I just had to sit down and watch Jackie do his best work. With each stroke of his keyboard, he would look up to a steno pad where he had taken notes from Mayor Tucker at a private dinner at the mayor’s country club: The Red Flamingo. As Davis went about his writing that I could describe as “blazing,” I wanted to tell him to slow down, but had told me earlier that someone in years past,told him to slow down and the nasty aftermath that happened as Jackie, who lost his temper and told, who he remembered as being a copy boy, to shut his mealy mouth shut if he knew what was good for him. Jackie looked sorry about that blow-up because at heart, Jackie was not a cruel man, even at his worst and drunkest time.
I counted nine sheets of paper filled with paragraphs about Tucker and what Jackie had said and how Tucker had answered. I got up from my chair and gently touched Jackie on the left shoulder.
“What’s up, kid?” Jackie said without looking up.
“Can we talk for a minute?” I asked. Thinking any minute I will be cursed out.
“Yeah . . .what’s happening?” Jackie said and I respected his passion to be finished with his story.
“Did you and Mayor Tucker, uhhh, have a few drinks last night . . . when you were asking him Fuqua’s questions about the commotions . . . that were investigated by the City Detectives?” I explained.
“Sure, bud. Me ‘n the mayor go back years, and yeah . . .we were putting some Dickel away. What of it, kid? Hurry! I got to get this story out!” Jackie said and even slurred his speech a bit.
“Well, Jackie, the story were you and the mayor uhhh, drunk, well, how are you remembering Mayor Tucker’s answers to write your story?” I stated very nervously.
“I’m not,” Jackie winked and went back to typing. “What about the mayor?”
“He won’t either,” and never missed a keystroke of his typing.
Jackie’s story was excellent. And I never let his drinking make me see him as less of the amazing writer and reporter than he was for many years.
© 2018 Kenneth Avery