To my wife on our 41st anniversary

Published 9:41 am Friday, August 14, 2015

In the 40 years I’ve been a reporter, photographer and editor, I’ve had a lot of highlights and great moments, but my greatest highlight occurred 41 years ago Sunday. I married my wife.

During that time — and the entire time we dated — she has been my best friend, confidant, lover and biggest supporter. It’s hard to believe she has put up with me for as long as she has. When people ask me the secret to our long-lasting relationship, I jokingly tell them, “love, respect, trust, and the realization that had I married anybody else, I’d be divorced by now.”

Our relationship began in a freshman English class at LSU and was influenced by a bad ankle. As a freshman, I severely injured my right ankle — which still gives me problems — in a pickup football game, forcing me to spend more than a month on crutches. I sat at the start of a row of desks so I could either prop my ankle on a chair or extend it into an aisle. It created an obstruction my fellow students, including Marcia, had to negotiate to get to their seats.

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But it took a date to get things started between us, and after that first night out, it was never the same.

We overcame geographical differences — she was from North Baton Rouge and I was from South Baton Rouge. That may not seem like much now, but back when we were dating, you were talking about very different areas in the same city.

For the unfamiliar, Baton Rouge at the time was distinctly divided into almost two separate and unique communities, split by the Choctaw Street railroad crossing. Folks in the south rarely went north of the crossing, and most folks in the north rarely went south except for work.

North Baton Rouge was primarily blue collar and the south, white collar. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the geographic and economic divide was manifested in bitter intercity rivalries between high schools like Istrouma and Baton Rouge High, Lee High (my alma mater) and Glen Oaks.

But we managed to adjust. The distinctions between north and south Baton Rouge were never an item of disagreement between us, and Marcia eventually accepted my crazy friends.

Though she never wrote an article, my wife has been as involved in the news business as long as I. She has served as proofreader, photo assistant and driver (after she caught me loading a camera with film while traveling 50 miles an hour over a narrow road in East Baton Rouge Parish). She got an early exposure to what I do when she accompanied me to a meeting of the Church Point (La.) City Council that lasted six hours (7 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and has understood my late hours.

As I look back over the past 41 years, I realize how much Marcia has meant to me and how hollow my live would be without her, and I’m ashamed to say I have never really told her how much I appreciate her love, understanding and support.

So to my wife, I will say, “Happy anniversary. I love you, I can’t live without you, and I’m looking forward to another 41 years.”

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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