He was what a man should be in many ways. But, one thing I remember most about him was his act of preparing others for the life ahead of them. And, he wasn’t even an official teacher.
I met Bee Landrum in about 1970. It was during that time that I was at the University of Houston, hacking away at journalism courses, as well as a lot of others that didn’t involve journalism.
I had just worked at the Houston Chronicle as a copyboy, basically taking documents from one desk to another in their editorial department. But, I was not really learning anything about newspapers by actually doing it.
Bee Landrum, editor of the Fort Bend Mirror in Stafford, gave me that chance. Stafford was a small city just on the southwest outskirts of Houston and Harris County, located in Fort Bend County.
I wanted to learn about the total operation, so I applied for an advertising position at Landrum’s paper. At that time, the Fort Bend Mirror was located on South Main Street, which eventually reached downtown Houston. The building was an old service station, and the pumps had been taken out, leaving only the holes where they had been.
I went in to speak with Landrum, and he noted my youthful age, and my probable inexperience.
He also noted that I needed to learn a little more about the newspaper business. He said he would think about it, and I should call him in the morning.
I’m sure he already had ideas about what he would do in considering me for the position, but just wanted to find out if I wanted it bad enough to call him in the morning.
I did just that, and he told me to come to the paper. I went, and he hired me.
Actually, I did pretty good, and enjoyed it. I went into southwest Houston cold-selling advertising.
But, I was in college to learn how to report and edit. I wanted to attend the city council meetings. There were three cities lined up there, Stafford, Sugar Land and Missouri City. Bee let me do this, but not before a lot of his own instruction. He showed me what the agenda was all about, and what to listen for. I began covering that on a regular basis.
Bee Landrum also let me travel with a massive group of reporters to the LBJ Ranch in Johnson City. He took me in his car. I lined up like anyone who had been in the business for many years, and shook hands with former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, later having lunch, and watching an LBJ speech in progress.
What more could a young aspiring journalist ask for? Bee Landrum allowed me to work for him, and experience some of the happenings that the journalists do, who I see on TV every night.
I seriously doubt it would have been possible unless someone took me under their wing, and gave me a chance early in life to experience the business from the inside, and its activity.
Bee, I know you have passed, but if you can read this from where you are, please accept my most sincere thanks for helping me in my life. I hope there are lots of others out there like you.
Jeff Riggs is Associate Editor of the Athens Daily Review.