Finley

It’s been a while since I’ve used the following pledge to prove my accuracy as a leading columnist:

“I guarantee that most of what I write is 95 percent accurate most of the time.”

You may remember me repeating that phrase over the years. And I mean it.

While we’re at it, I also guarantee that my “Accuracy Rate” (or Quotient) is far greater than NBC News. Hands down.

I thought of this the other day when I stumbled across some old columns I produced in the past. Looking over that splendid work, I admit I’ve done some columns over the years that many Discerning Readers might’ve questioned. They would be wrong. Mostly.

So after intense research (FALSE), I’m going to examine some old pieces and rate their accuracy.

Here’s what led to one old column (TRUE):

The one time I didn’t have to be accurate was when a professor at Wharton County Junior College (go, Pioneers!) gave us a Subject Matter and told us to write about it. Boy did I hit a home run and got the only “A” I ever received in college (TRUE).

(NON-EDITOR’S NOTE: I actually racked up some 10 hours of college credit over two stops at WCJC, once before I met and married Fiancée Margie and then after we became husband and Wife Margie. Impressive, huh?)

Testing our brains, we were instructed to write a paper on “a man who, while walking along a beach, discovers a broken boat oar.” That was it. That was the Subject Matter. (TRUE.)

Being a scholar (FALSE), this was a no-brainer for old Jimbo, or T-Bone as I was known far and wide then (TRUE).

Indeed, if I say so myself, it was brilliant work. It’s why today I write humor-type literature and not junk about the United Nations.

Here’s how I hit a Grand Slam on the assignment:

The man I had walking down the beach was a down-and-out bum, a man to whom life had been extremely cruel. He had no hope. Despair was his daily companion. He didn’t smell good, either.

So he’s walking down the beach thinking about ending it all and drowning himself by walking to China under water when he stumbles across this broken boat oar. Only this is no normal discovery.

On what would be the end of the paddle, there is a strange inscription. He can’t make it out, and neither can his fellow bums.

So he takes it to the Museum of Natural History, smelly and all, and, to his great delight, learns the oar, according to the inscription, once belonged to Viking explorers. It had been floating around for centuries.

To his shock, he learns the oar is worth $1 million. Remember, this was in the 1950s, when, unlike today, even major league baseball players would’ve died for that much money. (Today they’d feel underpaid.)

Excitedly, the bum readily agrees to sell the oar. The next day, in a fancy ceremony, he receives a check for $1 million.

Now, finally, his life can change. He can buy the things he’s always wanted – probably a new Studebaker automobile – and enjoy the rest of his days, maybe even with a woman.

But as he leaves the museum, check in hand, he steps into the intersection and is, sadly, struck by a Pearl Beer truck.

He dies instantly. Rich but now dead.

You might think that’s cruel, and it may well be, but it got me an “A” and my teacher said it showed great depth on my part when it comes to the written word.

Admittedly, it also proved, like NBC News, that I’m better when I can stretch the truth.

This tale of blowing away my WCJC professor is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Next Sunday, if I still have a job, I’ll tell you about a couple more true Incidents (MOSTLY) that I’ve had the honor to write about.

Jim Finley is a retired managing editor of The Sun. He can be reached at viewpoints@baytownsun.com, Attention: Jim Finley.

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