Columnist in town Tuesday to sign book

Published 10:05 am Monday, May 23, 2016

Rheta Grimsley Johnson has a way of writing about life that is humorous yet thought provoking. She shares personal accounts that many of her readers can relate to and also introduces them to friends that have made an impression on her life.

At noon on Tuesday, Grimsley Johnson will be at Lorelei Books signing her latest book, “The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge” in which the award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist tells her life’s story through her canine friends.

“My new book is one I’ve wanted to write since the late Memphis editor Michael Grehl gave me a regular column in 1982 and warned: “Never write about your children or your dogs. I think what he really was saying was this: Don’t write like a woman. Don’t be emotional or sentimental. Male columnists wrote all the time about dogs and family. That was okay. I had no children, so that part was easy. But every now and again I’d ignore Grehl’s advice and write about my dogs. My mailbox would fill to the brim. So here it is, a whole book about my dogs, a feminist treatise of sorts,” Grimsley Johnson said.

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In her book, canine characters include Monster, Humphrey, Pogo, Albert and Mabel, which holds the honor of being her most loved pet.

“My favorite pet, my favorite dog, was Mabel, a yellow Lab. She died in the end, but not before teaching me more about life than any other creature has before or since. It was gut-wrenching when she died, but I’d do it all over again. I still miss her. She was the first dog buried over the bridge at my home in a hollow in North Mississippi.”

“Dogs are a heartbreak waiting to happen,” Grimsley Johnson said.

“The dog always dies in the end – in books, in movies, in life. But they give us so much the short time they are with us that it’s worth any amount of hurt to love a dog. They teach us about loyalty, the importance of routine, restraint and unconditional love. We need them a lot more than they need us.”

Grimsley Johnson, whose column runs weekly in The Vicksburg Post, said she knew she wanted to write since she was in junior high. “I wanted to write for newspapers since I was in the eighth grade and got my first byline over a three-paragraph story about a girls’ volleyball game. I was hooked. I’ve written for newspapers in some form or fashion every year of my adult life.”

Grimsley Johnson’s awards include the National Headliner Award for commentary, Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for outstanding human-interest reporting, the Scripps Howard Writer of the Year from 1983 to 1985 and in 1991, she was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

This will not be Grimsley Johnson’s first visit to Vicksburg she said.

“I’ve been to Vicksburg many times, and I have this wonderful memory from 1979 of bringing my father-in- law to the military park to tour in 100-degree-plus weather. She also said she loved the story of why Vicksburg did not celebrate the 4th of July until recently. “War on your home turf is tough and explains a lot about the recalcitrance of our South. I used to drive through Vicksburg a lot on my way from Jackson (where I lived) to Greenville (where I worked in a Commercial Appeal bureau). It was the gateway to the Delta, a dramatic shift in topography. I love drama in any form!”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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