Every year I depend on the words of others to help me write columns. Sometimes, they practically write themselves.
At the end of the year it is fun to look back and remember some of the better words people have given me.
"He called the owner, a guy named Sid Garris, and I auditioned over the phone. I actually laid the receiver on a table and played my guitar into it. He said sure, and sent me an airline ticket to Houston where the group was and told me to show up."
-- Roy Culbertson of Belleville explaining how he became a member of the New Christy Minstrels back in the 1970s.
"It looked like the plane dropped something. It hit the hangar and the entire hangar blew apart. I thought someone had made a terrible mistake."
-- Dallas Harvey, a Pearl Harbor survivor, describing the first thing he saw during the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. He spoke to fifth-graders at Columbus Elementary School in Edwardsville.
"You know, the first one is always a bargain."
-- Auctioneer Adam Jokisch while he was selling a $90,000 locomotive. Sure enough, the bids quickly jumped into six figures.
"We felt like the entire community got together around Jacob and I and said, 'We're going to give you a big hug.'"
-- Angie Hutchison, of Belleville, whose husband and son were killed in a car crash which injured her and another son, describing the fantastic help they had gotten from friends, family and complete strangers.
"I know what it is like when you write a book. You're wondering, 'Is there anybody out there?'"
-- Reporter Kevin Killeen of KMOX radio talking about promoting his novel about growing up in a Catholic school called "Never Hug a Nun."
"The CO was kind of a wise guy. He told me there are two ways to get out. Graduate or die while you're here. I said I'd find a third way."
-- Peter Lecce of Collinsville on how he got out of airplane mechanic school and into glider training during World War II.
"I forgot how noisy it was and how bumpy."
-- Charles Woodford, of Belleville, a former tail gunner in a B-17 in World War II who took a ride in a restored B-17 at St. Louis Downtown Airport.
"I think it has an attitude, but it is dignified. Everybody involved had fun."
-- Sandra Hakanson, director of Mascoutah Senior Services talking about their pin-up calendar featuring mature models and a little bare skin.
"The bad part about it is that 10 to 15 minutes before the truce began, a buddy next to me got killed. It was a crappy war."
-- Art Hock of Belleville recalling his service in the Korean War.
Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org