Pensacola, Florida
Friday July 19th 2019


Outtakes—Paths Crossed

By Rick Outzen

As the end of 2018 nears, I like to reminisce on the many people who crossed my path throughout the year. These are a few that stood out.

Raymond Reese
In January, Nancy Jean Jenkins, 55, was hit by a car while trying to cross West Cervantes Street near Attucks Court. She died the next morning. In March, Faith Shoemore, 39, died after being hit near the H Street intersection.

The late Raymond Reese asked for us to point out the deaths were preventable if only Cervantes had better lighting. I did try to expose the hazard, but no one had a sense of urgency. The city had made a request of Triumph Gulf Coast to improve the road though Brownsville and preferred to wait for the funding.

On May 28, Raymond passed away. A week later, a 28-year-old woman and a baby were killed when they were struck by a vehicle while crossing the street. This time, city officials listened and promised to add more lighting. Today when I drive on Cervantes, I think of how many lives may have been saved if city hall had listened to Raymond. I regret he didn’t live to see the improvements.

Palmieri Family
In April, I traveled to Oxford, Miss., for a book event at Square Books. I shared the stage with Jennifer Palmieri, author of “Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World.”

I made the trip in part to promote my novel, “City of Grudges,” but I also wanted to visit with Jennifer’s family and pay tribute to my college classmate Dana Palmieri Drago, Jennifer’s oldest sister.

Dana and I were shy freshmen who became friends while sitting in the Zoology lab in 1975. After graduation, she had a successful career in banking. Dana passed away last year from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

In Oxford, I got to spend time with Dana’s daughter, Becca, Jennifer and their family and friends. I told them about what Ole Miss was like in the ‘70s, family, politics and writing over dinner at Central Grocery. It was a wonderful evening.

Mike & Mike & Elise
“City of Grudges” got me an appearance on “Morning Joe” with Joe and Mika Scarborough. The hosts and MSNBC staff couldn’t have been more gracious. My highlight was to be on the same panel with awarding columnists Mike Lupica and Mike Barnicle and Holly Springs, Miss., native Elise Jordan.

On camera, I tried to hold my own and represent Pensacola well. Off camera, Lupica wanted to talk Ole Miss football and the Manning family. Barnicle discussed politics and investigative reporting. Jordan asked about my visit to Square Books and Oxford. I was in heaven.