Remembering Gene 

Remembering Gene

Gene Prescott's photos brought to life thousands of news articles in the Arkansas Gazette for almost 40 years. When Gazette readers picked up their paper every morning, Gene's photos were there to give them a good visual sense of what happened in the accompanying news articles. That was not an easy task but Gene did it superbly. Gene helped make the Gazette the dependable, honest newspaper that it was.

I hated to hear that Gene died. He was a really good man and lived a full, honest life. Is there any higher honor than that?
Gene and I worked dozens and dozens of news stories for almost 25 years. He the photog and me the reporter. We had the same routine when we would meet up to tackle the story: Gene would ask me what the general nature of the story was going to be, who were the principal players and were there any special shots that he needed to get. Sounds simple? Not always.
Once in Forrest City, during a highly charged racial confrontation in the late 1960s, blacks and whites were at each others' throats. A hundred state troopers had locked down the city. Tension and guns were everywhere. Three hundred angry white people met at the courthouse to organize resistance to the black uprising.

Gene had quietly slipped around the city taking photos; he was almost like a phantom, getting photos without bringing attention to himself. He was simply a great news photographer.

Meanwhile, I was back at the courthouse listening to the prosecuting attorney rail about the “black rebellion.” The prosecutor noticed me — a reporter — and everyone wanted to throw me out of the meeting. I told them, they didn't have to do that; I'd go peacefully. When I walked through the courtroom doors, with the sheriff right behind me, Gene was there with his camera poised.

Gene yelled at me, “Why'd you do that?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Why didn't you let them throw you out...that would've been a great photo!”

That was Gene. Always looking for the photo that defined the moment. We'll miss you, Gene.

Wayne Jordan
Little Rock


In reference to your description of me in your review of The House in the Feb. 18 edition as “The Democrat-Gazette's Eric Harrison (of Sims sauce-hating infamy),” I really don't mind your taking a swipe at me, even an anonymous and underhanded one. And if you feel that at-tempted put-downs improves the quality of your restaurant writing, by all means, go for it.
But at least have the decency not to misquote, or at least to misinterpret, my opinion.

Semantics aside, there is a world of difference between “Sims' sauce is not our favorite,” which is what my review of Sims actually said, and “I hate Sims' sauce.” Or perhaps your writer only sees things in absolutes and is incapable of distinguishing shades of gray.

And by the way, at least my readers know that it's my opinion they're looking at because I put my name on my reviews. For more than 30 years I have put my byline on every review I've written, and I intend to always do so. I believe a reviewer, any reviewer, establishes a relation-ship over time with his readers based on the percentage of time the reader agrees or disagrees with him. Why the Times expects its readers to trust the opinion of a writer who doesn't identify himself, I'm sure I don't know.



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