My own jailer

In 1995 we spent four months in Ekaterinburg Russia where we lived in a two-room apartment.    We were cautioned by our Russian landlord “Don’t open the door to anyone you don’t know.  Not even if you look through the peep hole and they are wearing a uniform.  Criminals have disguised themselves as a militia to break into apartments.”

So when we entered our apartment, we unlocked a steel door and then unlocked a bolt on a thick wooden door. After we entered

we engaged the lock on the outside steel door,

threw a one-inch bolt latch on the steel door,

keyed the bolt lock on the wooden door,

put on the chain latch on the wooden door,

and finally before bedtime we attached a pipe brace form to the door handle that wedged against the floor.

Soon I began to feel as if I were locking myself into a jail for which we were paying $275 per month.      I felt like my own jailer.


My sweatshirt—a Christmas present from an irreverent daughter—says “I Used to Teach, Now I Have No Class”.

Words remind that a former student telephoned me at home one Saturday night. He remembered that I recruited a half-dozen students then led a march between the aisles, clapping my hands together, and humming the march from an opera.

“Professor Elam, I’m calling from outside Chapel Hill. I’m standing here with another member of that class. You wanted us to remember the opera title and what the letters might remind us. We can’t even agree on the opera title.”

I beamed into my telephone. “I’m glad you remembered that class. You may also remember that the opera title suggested four steps for writing an advertising or promotional message. The opera was ‘Aida;’ the four steps: A—get attention, I—develop interest, D—create a desire, A—call for action. A-I-D-A.”

The ex-student replied. “Thanks for nothing, Doc. I just lost a drink at the bar.”

Begin the Blog

 In the 1930s, Will Rogers wrote a syndicated front page three-paragraph daily memoir.    Will told us where he traveled, whom he met, and how our world was going.     Will was not only a comedian and movie star.   He was America’s home-spun philosopher.    Still known for his “I never met a man I didn’t like.”

Today, Will’s column probably would be called a “blog.”   He would take his readers traveling down memory’s lane.

At age 88, this old journalist published his first novel. Writing chapters for other books about everyday. So why not write you a blog?

Let’s call Dick Elam’s blog “Been There”.   You just read the first of more to come.