Friday, June 13, 2008

Rheta Grimsley Johnson

Had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to attend the local public library's Lunch and Learn program and hear newspaper columnist and author Rheta Grimsley Johnson speak about her career and her new book Poor Man's Provence Finding myself in Cajun Louisiana. The book billed a memoir and travelogue is an account of the people she has met and grown to love and appreciate in the Atchafalaya Swamp and the town of Henderson, Louisiana. Home for Rheta and her husband for half of each year she uses words to paint a vivid picture of the area and the people.

She was an engaging speaker and has some long time ties to our area. She attended school in Montgomery, Alabama where her parents still live. A graduate of Auburn University, she was editor of the Plainman, the campus newspaper, in 1974-75. Her first marriage (which she characterized as "many years ago") was to a local boy, the cartoonist Jimmy Johnson, whose Arlo and Janis cartoon strip ( ) I consider to be a peek inside my own home and marriage. She is now married to a retired journalism professor who once taught at UAB in Birmingham, but now she says "He is a duck hunter." She shared fond memories of our Valley area to the some 100 Senior citizens (and a few of us less Senior) who attended the event.

Rheta is also the author of Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz and America's Faces. Her newspaper column appears three times a week and is published by Kings Features Syndicate. Find out more about Rheta at

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