My Connection, an Introduction to a Beginning

i have a lot on my plate today and i am a bit too tired: i slept well and long last night, which for some reason makes me sleepy in the mornings requiring a nap, both the joy and the bane of old people. i mean, you may be only as old as you feel, but right now, i feel old. Tomorrow, when my Friday morning golfers tee off just past dawn i will feel young again (for about three holes when reality will set in). i also have been posting here much less frequently than i intended. i also am feeling homesick and hope this new idea reconnects me with back home. i plan to re-post the best of my Lebanon Democrat columns here on a yet to be decided frequency.

This is the first column of my “Notes from the Southwest Corner” written in October 2007. i wrote 500 of them, one every week for just shy of ten years. It certainly wasn’t for the money: i payed for a round or three of golf with my monthly fee. But it was one of the most satisfying things i’ve done in my life. Thank you, Amelia Hipps, Jared Felkins, The Lebanon Democrat, and the dear hearts and gentle people of my home town. i hope you enjoy revisiting those halcyon days of column writing.

Notes from the Southwest Corner: My Connection
by Jim Jewell

SAN DIEGO, CA – I live in San Diego. My home remains Lebanon.

I live here because I married a native, a rare breed when I met her. Yet I am more of a Middle Tennessean now than when I left for the Navy in 1967.

I like San Diego. In Tennessee, I cannot see Navy ships from the top of my hill. My home does not require an air conditioner. But Lebanon has a charm which won’t let go. I have said many times, the song “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” describes my feelings.

I am torn between two worlds.

I probably have had more jobs than almost anyone. The Navy was largely responsible: I was a first lieutenant, anti-submarine officer, and shipyard coordinator for a sonar suite installation on a destroyer; executive officer of a Navy unit aboard a merchant marine troop ship; anti-submarine officer on a guided-missile destroyer leader; a destroyer chief engineer and shipyard overhaul coordinator; an NROTC associate professor; current operations officer for an amphibious squadron; weapons officer, overhaul coordinator, and training officer on an helicopter carrier; executive officer of  a destroyer tender; director of leadership training, and facilitator for an excellence seminar. I was also sports editor of the Watertown Daily Times in New York between my first Navy obligation and reinstatement to active duty.

Fifteen jobs in twenty-three years.

Generating the list, I also considered other jobs I’ve had, starting at ten years old. This includes yard maintenance; newspaper delivery; water plant worker; grave digger; service station attendant; auto parts inventory worker; camp counselor; clothes salesman; sports writer; newspaper correspondent; and radio announcer. Eleven jobs in fourteen years.

After the Navy, I carried on job instability.

A life-long job was created when my wife gave birth to our second daughter the day I retired. In a little more than a week, I went from being a commander to “Mr. Mom.”

In this capacity, I chased more occupations: writing the first draft of a friend’s book about his Prisoner of War (POW) experience in Vietnam; organization development consultant; energy regulatory newsletter editor; facilitator for Department of Energy nuclear site reorganization; career transition consultant; automobile sales trainer; customer service trainer; business development manager; military training marketer; business management columnist; awards shop manager; and executive coach.

The jobs in this phase total fourteen, bringing the grand total to forty jobs. That’s pretty close to being a jack of all trades. I believe “master of none” also applies.

Underlying all of this flitting about have been three constants. I have a great love for my family, who remain my top priority. Lebanon has always been my home, and I remain connected. Finally, I have always had the desire to write.

This column attempts to tie the three together. “Notes from the Southwest Corner” is intended to give my perspective on Middle Tennessee, a recollection of my youth, and other thoughts I would like to share.

I want to describe places I’ve been and people who affected me. There will be some thoughts about running an organization and some “sea stories.” I plan to present similarities and differences between life on the “left coast” and in Middle Tennessee.

I won’t tell you HOW to do anything. Most of you are as smart as me and can figure it out on your own. I will refrain from political comments. Also, I don’t plan to make any religious pitches.

My goal is to write well for a place I love. I am shooting to give you anecdotes and thoughts which you can use as you see fit to your benefit.

From birth until 1967, I lived across the street from J. Bill Frame. He was the publisher of the Lebanon Democrat. He was the most intelligent, knowledgeable person I have ever known. He was also kind, and understanding. The Democrat was journalism as I knew it then, and he may be the reason I have this drive to write. J. B. Leftwich, while a professor at Castle Heights taught me journalism.

So in a way, I have returned home. It is with joy I write for the Democrat. It is with pride I write where J. Bill Frame once ruled. It is an honor to write alongside J. B. Leftwich, who taught me and many leading journalists in the country.

Writing here is real close to coming home.

I hope you enjoy the read. I know I will enjoy the ride.


When i grew up in the newspaper business, i typed on an old royal typewriter with rough light brown draft paper, two-column format so the editors could make pencil corrections before sending the copy to the linotype setters. The editing version of short hand included the writer showing the copy was concluded used the shortcut “-30-.” i still catch myself putting this shortcut at the end of my drafts, although i stopped using it for the column about halfway through when i realized it was just extra work for the editor. You see, they had gone to cold type a long, long time ago and such editing notes on paper were superfluous.

Hmm, maybe there is some deeper meaning in there for me.

And i should add after this was written, i was also the Programs Director for Safety, Environmental Regulation, Military Liaison for Pacific Tugboat Service in  San Diego: it’s been a varied and mostly enjoyable life.



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