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Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 by

More notes from the road from author Mark Ethridge:

A week from tonight, I’m the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Queens University Friends of the Library in Charlotte – another of the many speeches I’ve made to literary groups and at universities since NewSouth Books published Grievances almost a year ago.

This one stands to be a little different.

On May 8, 1974 – thirty three years prior, almost to the day – my grandmother, Willie Snow Ethridge, addressed the same group.

As the Friends of the Library reported in a recent newsletter item, “Willie Snow Ethridge came to Charlotte (from a weekend at the Kentucky Derby) to talk at Queens about her 1973 book, Side By Each. A scrapbook in Everett Library documents her visit as speaker . . . Reporters at both The Charlotte Observer and The Charlotte News found her to be engaging as a person and a writer – part of her grandson’s inheritance from her and other well known writers in his family.”

Being Mark Ethridge III leads people to assume I most closely identify with my newspaper editor father (Raleigh Times, Akron Beacon Journal, Detroit Free Press) or my newspaper publisher grandfather (Louisville Courier-Journal, Newsday) – especially since I’ve been both a newspaper publisher and an editor.

But the fact is, I’ve always had as much in common with Willie (that was her given name and that’s what her sixteen grandchildren called her) as I do with the journalists for whom I am named. I especially identify with her love of stories and her humor.

I’ll likely never equal her talent and I’ll certainly never match her output. Willie Snow Ethridge published sixteen books. I’ve published one, although I’m finishing another and plotting a third.

But the newsletter story carries the headline A First For Annual Meeting.

If I didn’t feel any legacy pressure before, I certainly do now.

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