Everything I needed to know...

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By Becky Barnes

“You don’t want to eat onions on Tuesdays because they make you sleepy,” said Thelma Taylor to a young journalism pup.
Tuesday was and still is deadline day at The Cynthiana Democrat and if anyone knew the do’s and don’ts of deadlines, it was Thelma.
She was the first woman to earn editor status for The Cynthiana Democrat and I know exactly how she did it. One word... caring.
Thelma had a passion for Cynthiana and Harrison County and more importantly the people who make up that community.
I came to work for the paper in 1976, with the ink still wet on my high school diploma. Thelma was still writing, mostly feature stories. That’s what she liked best.
She wanted everyone to have their name in the paper because she believed that everyone was worthy of a feature story... from a doll house on KY36 to a two-headed calf at Rutland.
As cliche as it may sound, she knew no stranger and she was never shy about sharing her opinion, stranger or not.
I suppose my first introduction to Thelma Taylor was as a high school student and reading the local paper following the April 3, 1974, tornado.
Her coverage taught me something that I didn’t really recall until years later while I was attending the American Press Institute. They called it ‘testing your market.’ Thelma called it journalism.
Testing your market basically means to figure out the shock value and your community’s tolerance.
Thelma had no qualms about drawing a line in the sand. She would run a photograph if she believed it told a story. She wouldn’t run a shocking photograph just for the sake of running it.
Her coverage of that tornado included a photograph of a cow that had been impaled by a 4x4. Shocking? Yes. But it told the ferocity of the storm and the havoc and devastation left behind.
Her stories of the same event made me cry and smile at the same time.
Thelma left the paper shortly after I joined the news department. However, she made numerous encore appearances. Each time an editor left, Thelma would be called up to fill in; and when I had my children, Thelma was my sub.
In the years since, she still let me know she was watching out for me. She’d send me a card with an “atta girl” note or a possible story idea.
She will truly be missed, but not forgotten.
Each Tuesday, when I order my lunch, I still remember... no onions.