A few weeks ago I got a small package in the mail along with this note, “Mr. Davidson, I read with interest your column where you quoted Paul Harvey regarding ‘Dirt Roads.’ One problem: He didn’t write the piece. I did. You can check it out in the enclosed book which Mr. Harvey quoted and gave me proper credit.”
He then went on to give me Paul Harvey’s secretary’s name and phone number. He concluded by saying, “I’d appreciate a correction. Thanks.” The note was signed Lee Pitts.
Of course, Mr. Pitts is exactly right. The title of his book is, “People Who Live at the End of Dirt Roads,” and it contains a quote by the late Paul Harvey on the back cover. The same day I got his note I wrote him back to apologize for not giving him proper credit for his work.
The fact is, I had never heard of Pitts until that day. This is a common problem and one of the reasons I decided to write this column. Paul Harvey did indeed quote Pitts on his national radio show and gave him proper credit. However, because this piece was so good, many people passed it along to their friends, but somewhere along the way the name of the real author was lost in the shuffle.
In other words, some person gave Paul Harvey credit as being the author and it just spread from there. Case in point. A few days after I got the book and note from Pitts, I got another forwarded email that was titled “Dirt Roads,” and sure enough it listed the author as Paul Harvey. I later learned this email originated in Canada. The truth is, Pitts is a fantastic writer and I can understand why Paul Harvey would want to quote him. I consider it a privilege to set the record straight, at least for those who read my column.
Here is a little background information in the event you are not familiar with his writing. Pitts is the executive editor for “Livestock Market Digest,” a weekly newspaper serving the livestock industry. He is the author of five previous books and a syndicated weekly humor column. His is a recognized byline in rural weekly newspapers and monthly magazines throughout the West. He has spent the last two decades traveling around rural America writing stories and speaking about agricultural issues and the agrarian way of life. When he is not busy traveling down dirt roads, he makes his home in Los Osos, Calif., with his wife, Diane.
Pitts has a way of touching your roots and making you think about the values that have shaped our country. I particularly liked the chapter titled, “The Golden Age Of America.” After he had attended a farm sale auction, here are some words that he penned, “Car after car hurried past me, filled with antiques and relics and broken dreams. It seems we value relics, but not the society that produced them. Middle America is vanishing. These small towns along the way either flourished and grew into a city with all its problems, or they died. If enough families move away, a small town dies. If enough small towns die, the heart of a nation is destroyed.”
Again, the title is, “People Who Live at the End of Dirt Roads.” You can pick up a copy at your local bookstore or contact the author by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In light of what I’ve been saying, giving you an email address is kind of ironic. The Internet can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we use it.
Here is a suggestion that I hope every person who reads this column will heed. When you get a “Forward” email, check to see if the author is listed. If not, add the words “Author Unknown.” No one likes to see someone else’s name on something they have written.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)