John Surratt: The man behind the facade

Published 10:00 am Friday, January 2, 2015

It’s 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and I’m sitting at my desk searching what’s left of my brain for a topic to begin a new column.
It’s a well-known fact that writers don’t rush things when they plan to put down their innermost thoughts on paper for the edification of others. We are patient beings and we want to set the right tone and be careful in our selection of words. Therefore, we wait for our muse to speak and give us the inspiration and wisdom to put just the right words on paper.
My muse spoke about 2 p.m. with the reminder, “You have a column Friday.” And Thursday being a holiday and I won’t be at the paper unless something blows up or burns up, the panic button hit to remind me it’s time I get off my duff and write this thing.
So here I sit wondering what to write about and what to say. I’m afraid this inaugural piece won’t impart words of wisdom or anything intellectually stimulating that will require deep thought, so I’ll pull a few things together and give you a look at me.
Baring, or almost baring a reporter’s soul can be a dangerous thing. I remember reading a story years back about the new editor of one small town paper who literally opened his soul to everyone in town, talking about his arrest for passing bad checks, his divorce and financial difficulties. When he was asked about the column, he said he wanted to get the jump on the rumormongers in town.
I’m not going that far.
I’ve been in Vicksburg almost four years now, and I believe I’ve finally settled in. As those who deal with me on a daily basis know, I grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated from LSU. Cut me and I’ll bleed purple and gold. I’ve been married 40 years to one of the most patient people in the world.
I’ve been a reporter, editor and photographer for almost 40 years. I cut my teeth covering local government and politics in Louisiana working first in Iberville Parish, which is across the Mississippi River and south of Baton Rouge and in the 1970s, was one of the most political parishes in the state.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a New Orleans Saints fan. In fact, I rarely watch the NFL and I haven’t watched a Stupid Bowl since 1995. I enjoy college football, and my favorite teams are LSU and whoever plays Ole Miss or Alabama, except during bowl season, when I feel SEC fans need to stick together.
I hate driving in New Orleans, Atlanta, and almost feel the same way about driving in Jackson, although I enjoy going to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and visiting Books-A-Million in Jackson and the Bass Pro Shop in Pearl, even though I don’t hunt or fish (never had the desire to hunt, and although my dad taught me to fish, I’ve never had the patience).
I’m aggravated by poor service, which is the result of working retail when I was in college and being influenced by bosses who emphasized customer service and were quick to criticize if they saw a customer standing alone.
I don’t like standing in the 20 items or less line at the store while the clown at the register learns to count to 20. I also get peeved trying to leave an event only to be blocked by people standing in the doorway visiting and holding up traffic.
I enjoy Cajun music and Zydeco music, Dixieland and Big Band. I enjoy visiting the Vicksburg National Military Park and looking at the Mississippi. My only wish is that I could convince my wife to take trip on a riverboat.
So now I come to the end of this first column with the promise I’ll have better things to write about in the future.

John Surratt is a reporter and can be reached by email at

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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