Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009
CHARLOTTE ó Some observations from Thursday’s dedication of the Bill Graham Library.
Post Photographer Wayne Hinshaw and I knew we’d be in for a long, hot day.
The skies were Carolina blue and it was muggy and humid by the time we arrived at the library around 11.
Thank God, organizers decided to set up a huge tent ó revival style, I guess ó over the proceedings. We were in the parking lot so you can imagine how much more miserable it would’ve been.
I was happy to be in the shade at the press tent. According to our press contact, Jeremy Blume, there were more than 100 credentialed media from all over the world in attendance.
The Times of London and the BBC were there, Jeremy said, and we heard someone from Australia was coming, but no one seemed to know for sure.
I sat beside a woman from a Canadian television show.
She gave me her card and told me her name: Patricia Paddey.
“I’m the only Patty Paddey you’ll ever meet,” she said with a friendly smile.
Her faith-based news and current affairs program, she said, “examines how God is at work behind the headlines.”
The Charlotte Observer had seven staff members onsite; Ken Garfield, the paper’s former religion editor was there. It’s always good to see him, as well as David Whisenant from WBTV.
The journalism fraternity is a small one ó getting smaller every day, it seems ó so it was good to connect with people we knew and meet new folks, too.
nnnWe all agreed that the port-a-johns were the nicest we’d ever seen. I went into the handicapped accessible restroom because it was closest to the press tent; it was a large room with a rug on the floor, a bowl of mints, a sink and of course the toilet.
Wayne asked if we could get them for the Pops at the Post concert.
The library’s PR group gave us a run sheet with our materials. That’s a minute-by-minute rundown of the program.
It was slated to run 1 hour, 37 minutes.
I found it interesting how the mayor of Charlotte, the governor and two former presidents received a maximum of 4-5 minutes to speak.
Former President Bush’s speech was listed at 12 minutes, but I’m not sure he spoke that long.
nnnPeople have asked me who was in the crowd. That’s a little hard to say as the PR folks did not provide us with any lists.
At the media tour, Franklin Graham noted that a number of “men of God” would be there.
Evangelist Joel Osteen sat a couple of rows behind us, as did Erskine Bowles, president of the UNC system.
I was looking at the assigned seats before the program began. Barbara Bush was on the first row with members of the Graham family.
I noticed some abbreviations: PL, PS, LD.
PL was political leaders, so PS must’ve been political staff. But what was LD? I asked a staff member who had a list.
“Let’s just look,” she said.
We chuckled when we saw the notation: Large Donors.
I ran into a Secret Service agent and wanted so badly to interview him.
But I knew better.
“You probably can’t tell me anything, can you?” I asked.
He said he could tell me a few things, nothing of which I could print.
It reminded me of the time Pat Buchanan came by the Post when he was running for president. A Secret Service detail was with him. Rose Post peppered the agents with questions.
Finally, one of them asked, politely but firmly, “Why do you think we call it the SECRET Service?”
An old story but a good one.
Gathering music began about a half-hour before the dedication, and so made it feel more like a church service.
This was no casual dress occasion.
The 1,500 invited guests wore their Sunday best.
It was a bit like visiting the Presbyterian church ó albeit one whose air conditioning was on the blink.
The occasional breeze was welcome.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.