I've taken on a good many projects over the years. I'm hoping this web page makes a nice final resting place for four of them. As I write this, I'm 66 years old. While I run, bike, hike and lift weights, I could keel over tomorrow. I want to get this material out before I croak. There's a lot of history in these volumes, and I'm a sharing kind of guy. I'm talking the "L" word here. Legacy. Evidence that I accomplished a little something on this Earth. Pick a topic and scroll away for free.
"Favorites" is a collection of 80-some columns written during my Evansville days (1987-2011). Included are pieces on a 91-year-old woman who won't stop bootlegging whiskey, a young man who gets paid for being mosquito bait and the truth about the hit tune, "Louie, Louie."
For "Coming Together," I interview more than 40 men and women who were active in the civil rights movement in the South during the mid-1960s. I used this material as background for my play about the movement, "Jubilee in the Rear View Mirror." For our pre-show, I interviewed three African-Americans in Evansville and Greenwood, Miss., who talk about living under segregation. "Coming Together" has links to both 30-minute videos. The site also features educational information that I use when presenting programs at high schools.
"Columnists: While We're Still Around" is a salute to a once-proud profession that's now pretty much kaput. It looks back on that golden age when subscribers couldn't wait for the newspaper to bang against their front doors so they could read the latest musings of their daily scribe. "Columnists" contains pieces from 27 men and women whose work I admire to include Mark Patinkin, Colman McCarthy, Donna Britt, Dave Lieber, the late Mike Harden and, yes, me. I want to preserve their talent so it can be appreciated by future generations.
"Folks Are Talking" recalls my time at the Bluefield, W. Va., Daily Telegraph with a focus on stories written between 1976 and 1983. You'll meet an early organizer for the United Mine Workers, a pair of coal camp baseball players, a collector of silent-screen western movie posters, survivors of coal mine explosions, a cockfighter, a man who lobs pop bottles out of a homemade cannon and a woman who eats her lunch while skinning muskrats.
28 oral histories of folks Garret Mathews interviewed as a young feature writer on the Bluefield, W. Va., Daily Telegraph between 1974 and 1979.Read Now
Learn about the '60s struggle for racial equality in the Jim Crow South through interviews with 40 men and women who were in the front lines.Read Now
This gathering of columns is my way of breathing life into the profession for at least as long as it takes readers to turn the pages.Read Now
A collection of newspaper columns about Americana, the likes of which are fading from print.Read Now
I grew up in Abingdon, Va., and graduated from Virginia Tech in 1971. From 1972 until 1987, I wrote columns and features for the Bluefield, W. Va., Daily Telegraph. I moved on to write the metro column for the Evansville Courier, and retired from the paper in 2011 after 24 years.
In 2000, I was named columnist of the year for Scripps-Howard newspapers. I won several contest awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the Society of Professional Journalists.
My books include "Swing, Batta" (Michigan State University Press) about coaching 10-year-old baseball players, and "Defending My Bunk Against All Comers, Sir!" (Zone Press) about a scared basic trainee during the Vietnam War.
My theatrical play about the civil rights movement – "Jubilee in the Rear View Mirror" – has been performed three times. My one-act about the fading newspaper industry – "Kill The Column" – was a part of the 2015 Indy Fringe Festival.
I penned more than 6,500 columns on every subject from murderers and moonshiners to an Appalachian snake-handler who's been "fanged," (his word) too many times to count.
I've trotted two marathons, and crossed Indiana in three days (180 miles) on my one-speed bicycle.
I can juggle an eight-pound bowling ball, a basketball and a golf ball.
I've lived in a boarding house. Passed instruments during an embalming. Walked a guy's pet lion. Jumped out of an airplane. Watched Mom die from smoking-induced lung cancer. Had a guy pull a pistol on me while covering a coal strike.
Visited the DMZ between North and South Korea. Interviewed an exotic dancer who wanted to be a herpetologist. Organized an over-40 baseball team that played all-star teams of 14-year-olds. Because it was my idea, I got to pitch. And I hit .350.
My wife, MaryAnne, and I have two children (Colin and Evan) and two grandchildren, Gavin and Ben. We live in Carmel, Ind., and babysit often.
I'd love to hear from you.