I am still beaming with pride after attending The Decatur Daily’s 100th birthday celebration on June 8. The magnitude of the accomplishment keeps hitting me in the heart. You’ve always been referred to as “The Daily family.” That came home to roost.
And what a fine product it is.
Members of the community were at the celebration, also. They weren’t outsiders; they are the family, too. The Tennessee River region is the driving force behind The Daily. You, the reader, are the reason a reporter spends time researching a story, or why a pressman spends Christmas Eve running paper rolls through a printer. When the power is out and the roads are a sheet of ice, you are why a carrier dons an extra pair of socks to deliver a paper into your hands. Every day.
I wish I could have met William Randolph Shelton, the first editor of the newspaper. I wonder what he was like. Did he imagine his newspaper still being distributed 100 years later? And his son, and his son, and his son, doing the same? “The Old Man” (I called him Pop), in my child’s eye, should and could have been governor of Alabama. Then there’s Barrett Shelton Jr., my father. It would take an entire two-ton roll of newsprint to describe how much love, respect, humor, learning, experience and wisdom he has put in my life. And then there’s Clint Shelton, my brother. I’ve watched him grow into a fine man, who, like the men before him, has made the quality of his city, county and region the driving force behind his every waking day.
There is a new historic marker on First Avenue in Decatur. It’s located just to the right of The Daily’s building. On June 7, Clint borrowed post-hole diggers and mixed the concrete to plant the sign. I went with his family that evening, before Friday’s open house, to admire his handiwork.
Not often do you get to see a historic landmark placed in your business’ honor, so we all stood in silence and read the sign, letting the history sink in. The front of the sign is the history of the newspaper. On the back is the history of the Sheltons and the four generations at the helm of the newspaper. As he finished reading the family side, one of Clint’s boys remarked, “I guess they will have to change that.”
Yes, William or Hudson, or any one of the fifth generations of Sheltons, I hope they have to change it, too.
Leigh Shelton Cassady of Enterprise is the daughter of Barrett Shelton Jr. and the sister of publisher Clint Shelton.
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