BL: They won’t make Caulton Tudors any more

C Tudor
BobLee
November02/ 2017

They won’t make Caulton Tudors any more

This is not a compilation of anecdotes between the late Raleigh-area sports columnist Caulton Tudor and me. Nor is it a personal tribute to a man I didn’t know any better than 98% of you “knew” him. A very fine and very humble gentleman from all the comments from his colleagues over the past several days.

Caulton Tudor passed away Tuesday evening from “a lingering illness” which is often a euphemism for some form of cancer. He was, at 70, a member of my generation. “We” have reached that point in the Life Cycle, that upon our passing, no one laments “but he was so young” because we aren’t.

 

I met Caulton Tudor just once and very briefly about ten years ago. Former N&O columnist Ruth Sheehan asked me to conduct a seminar for N&O reporters on “the influence of the Internet” on how news is and will be covered. Caulton attended my presentation.

NOTE: FWIW… my prophecies then about how Internet technology would drastically change “the information business” have all come true.

If given an opportunity to ask Caulton Tudor one question it would be a question that everyone with an unusual name deals with.

At what point do you simply ignore misspellings and mispronunciations of your name? His name was “Caulton”… not “Carlton”.

I assume “Caulton” is either (1) a family name or (2) a misspelling on his birth certificate. The latter seems to happen a lot with AfAm births. Caulton was not AfAm.

A second question would be how long it took him to learn to spell Krzyzewski correctly… if ever.

His colleagues called him “Toots”. That’s not a nickname given to someone not popular with ones’ colleagues. Reaffirming his legacy of conviviality.

He was from the central NC rural community of Angier… attended ECU and Campbell… and spent his career as a reporter / columnist with various forms of the News & Observer until 2013 when he joined WRAL’s digital sports team.

I have no clue of the circumstance of his leaving the N&O in 2013. Many/most longtime employees have left The N&O in recent years under tenuous circumstances. The publishing company is permanently “downsizing”… faster than Marie Osmond on NutriSystem.

The title of today’s opus refers to the fact Caulton Tudor spent his entire adult life writing about the local / regional sports scene… from the early 70s until the past few months. I believe he was still sending in columns to WRAL thru the early/mid stages of his fatal illness.

He would have pecked away on a portable “typewriter” for multi-decades, transitioning to a “laptop” the past several decades. No clue if he transitioned well with that. Did he miss the clackety-clack of typewriter keys? Many writers of “our generation” do.

Over 40+ years he covered numerous “big sports events” involving local high school, college and pro teams. Who won and who lost those games likely spread out pretty evenly, and to my knowledge, not influenced one iota by a single word Caulton wrote about those games.

Blondie despises the use of “unique” especially the phrase “most unique” because little or nothing really is “unique” despite our efforts to “uniquefy” everything about our lives and circumstances.

That said, covering “sports” in The Triangle-area does have a uniqueness in that there are three “major college” sports programs within this media market of a 50-mile circumference of RDU Airport.

Not EVERY one of the 1.5 million humans in this market area is a live-or-die partisan of one of those three programs but enough are to make a sportswriter’s life a “game of solitaire with a deck of 51”. He can’t win.

My all-time favorite Caulton Tudor story (yes, I’ve told it several occasions) was a column he wrote pre or post a “big game” between State and Carolina 12-15 years ago. … football or basketball? … doesn’t matter.

The Internet was already well-habitated with board monkeys of all species with their sinister “fan forums” and “chat rooms”. The average IQ hovering in the mid 30s or so… able to feed themselves but only with plastic sporks… never with anything sharp or pointy.

Caulton broad-brushed his comments analyzing both teams as he should. BUT… all that did was piss off BOTH tribes of board monkeys.

“THIS PROVES once and for all that ^%$#*^ Tudor is a ______ homer.” Insert the hated “them team”.

Both sides had turned Caulton’s column upside down and held it up to a mirror revealing the satanic message he had encoded in his words cursing “our team”. How stupid of Caulton to think he could get away with such a trick!!

Every regional board monkey knew Caulton went to ECU (and Campbell)  which is bad enough…. BUT his wife  not only was a UNCCH alum but apparently WAS A SEASON TICKET-HOLDER. How stoopid does The N&O think we are by golly.

I don’t recall the proof positive that Caulton was OBVIOUSLY an NC State “homer”. Maybe he was spied eating at Amedeo’s once… or a similarly heinous act.

Over 40 years Caulton Tudor had to have written a minimum 2-3,000 game recaps and/or columns. If he was EVER less than effusively praising “your team” you never forgave or forgot THAT column. You cut it out and taped it on your bathroom mirror as a forever reminder what a low-down dirty-lying scallywag “That Damn” Caulton Tudor surely was.

Caulton Tudor was a “That Damn” before Dan Kane had ever typed the word Nyang’oro the first time.

Hard as it may be to believe… there was Life in this area before The Great Unpleasantness @ UNCCH. In a time long long ago there was The Jimmy V Scandal. Caulton wrote for the Raleigh Times back then. An evening newspaper for Greater Raleigh long since dead and buried… to be joined “soon” by its eeevil big brother The N&O. Suffering also from “a lingering illness”.

When elders gather to gnaw on the bones of The Jimmy V Scandal, Caulton is not a central character. The sportswriter villain then was Mickey McCarthy along with N&O Editor Claude Sitton. Both were quite “That Damned” in those days and still are today… when elders gather.

They won’t make Caulton Tudors any more…

…because “newspapers” are on life-support these days. Plus, nobody is employed by anybody for 40 years anymore. We live in a very disposable society and employees are as disposable as those plastic sporks … used to feed those lunatic board monkeys.

When Caulton was satisfied with a column, he jerked it from his typewriter… handed it to a copy boy of some sort… it passed thru a editor’s glance and was sent to the typesetter. The next morning “it” was on driveways all across Eastern / Central North Carolina… pissing off 1,000s of partisan fans over their morning coffee.

I wonder if Caulton Tudor even had columnist’s remorse… “maybe I shouldna hadna oughta wrote what I wrote quite like I wrote it”…?

Websites have advantages over “print” in that they can be continually updated and edited and simply deleted.

I bet A.J. Carr, Tom Suiter and Bob Holliday will be at White Memorial Presbyterian for Caulton’s service.

I bet Dick Herbert and Joe Tiede and Don Shea met Caulton at the Pearly Gates.

I hope St Peter doesn’t call him “Carlton”. …but if he does, I doubt that bothers him anymore.  If it ever did.

###

More of BobLee -Link

AP LOGO

AgentPierce’s Latest  – LINK

NCNV

NCNews&Views -LINK

 

BobLee
  • Rummie Reply
    2 weeks ago

    BL, thanks for doing this.Lived in Raleigh many moons ago and knew “Toot” and Inez socially. He was a great American and an outstanding Journalist. He was a humble guy who, I believe, never realized just how talented he was. That’s a great trait!

  • MC in Goldsboro Reply
    2 weeks ago

    Well done, BobLee. I never met the man, but I spent some time in the newspaper business in a previous life (not as far back as hot type, but pre-computer), and I knew a few folks among the local/regional sportswriters, and from what I could tell, Caulton Tudor was universally respected and very well-liked among that group. As others have mentioned, he had a reputation as a very humble individual. Your assessment of there “never being another one like him” is spot-on, as usual. The local/regional sportswriter, as we once knew them, are quickly going the way of the dinosaur and the buggy whip (much like the local newspapers). Once again, you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you, sir. I’m not sure why the demise of “print news” has to signal the demise of “writers such as Caulton Tudor” but it appears to be the case. … FWIW I have no clue what Caulton’s “politics” was… nor do I need/care to know.

  • wolfbuff Reply
    2 weeks ago

    As you might tell from my “internet name” I’m a Wolfpack fan. But I always liked Tudor’s columns and found them to be fair. In fact, I would often look for his column first in the sports page. On another note, I know you don’t lament the fall of the newspaper. But there is something about picking up a paper and skimming through it for the articles of interest. For the most part, internet news is dumbed down and more and more outrageous just to get clicks. I usually have to read multiple articles on the same topic to find what probably is mostly true. I never felt that way about Tudor.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      My non-lament is not for newspapers in general but rather what they have evolved into… especially the local Triangle version. I read a morning newspaper daily until about 10 years ago when I “had had it” with The N&O and went cold turkey on “print news” and have never looked back. I share your concern with “digital news”.

  • BC78 Reply
    2 weeks ago

    This was a lovely remembrance. I grew up reading him, of course. These old-school newspaper columnists are going and won’t be replaced.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      They are not being “replaced” literally as well as figuratively… sigh.

  • fayettewuf Reply
    2 weeks ago

    I always liked Caulton Tudor’s work and was a subscriber to the Raleigh Times. I never saw the homerism in his work. I admire the old school journalists. Sorry to hear of his passing.

  • Ken.G.T Reply
    2 weeks ago

    NOBODY does eulogies like you BL… even when I don’t know the dearly departed, I feel like I do after reading your tributes. Another Home Run…

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Thanks. People tell me I oughta turn it into a business… “Eulogies R Us”. Problem is there’s NO repeat business, and collecting from “no pays” is a REAL problem.
      .
      “Coach / CNR” has me on retainer to do his… but that Ol Coot is probably gonna outlive me. 🙂

  • Doug Reply
    2 weeks ago

    I’d say “old school” sums it up nicely. I was reading Mr Tudor’s work at 23. He was around 26 by my math and I thought the material was from someone much older than the three years that actually separated us.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      40 years with one newspaper… THAT just doesn’t happen.

      • scott Reply
        2 weeks ago

        My Dad spent 40 years in the sports dept of the Greenville Daily Reflector. Been retired about 15 years now.

        • BobLee Reply
          2 weeks ago

          Did he write about Rodney Knowles and Jack Foley?

          • scott
            2 weeks ago

            Yes, he did. I don’t remember them myself, but Mom says yes. I will talk to him later and get more details.

          • BobLee
            2 weeks ago

            See if he remembers Rodney’s nickname? He surely knew Jack Stephens from Kinston Daily Free Press.

          • scott
            2 weeks ago

            He said that he doesn’t remember the nickname, but they were seniors the first or second year after he came here. He did know Jack Stephens.

          • BobLee
            2 weeks ago

            Rodney was known, at least to Northeastern 3-A opponents, as The Jolly Green Giant. He was 6’9″ 240 and had classic battles with New Bern’s Bill Bunting. I believe Knowles went to Davidson (?) but was not a prominent college player. No clue what ever became of him.

          • scott
            2 weeks ago

            Mom said one of them was a mayor somewhere down near the coast.

  • rivlax Reply
    2 weeks ago

    I always liked Caulton Tudor because he was an afternoon-paper guy like I was for most of my career, first at The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger, then The Durham Sun, before moving to The Durham Morning Herald in 1988. I see from the stories today that he moved to The N&O in 1989, so he made the switch to A.M. about the time I did, mainly because our beloved P.M. papers were dying. Afternoon paper people could always perform on deadline better than morning paper people because they had to write two or three stories before noon each day. Caulton Tudor could bang out fine fast prose with the best of them. RIP.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      WHO KNEW there was such an AM / PM rivalry? Thanks rivlax!

  • Mayberry Jim Reply
    2 weeks ago

    Great job BL, much respect to Mr. Tudor.

    I use a search engine to locate & contact people as part of my work. I searched “Caulton Tudor” across the USA and he is/was the only one, so there’s your “unique”.

    Regarding us having reached “that point in the Life Cycle”, my family treated me to a 60th birthday picnic at an outdoor concert a few years ago. There were lots of friends there who came by to chat. One guy asks “So today’s your birthday?” to which I responded “No, it’s actually tomorrow”. He said “If you die tonight, people reading your obituary will see you died at 59 years old, and they will say “Boy did he die young”. If you die tomorrow, it will say you were 60, and they’ll say “Well, he had a good life””. What a difference a day makes!

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      If we were eskimos I suppose we would both be on our ice floes in the Bering Sea.

  • DM Carpenter Reply
    2 weeks ago

    Fine piece on a fine writer, growing up in Rawley, I reading his columns, a piece of a passed age, a society forever gone, but in memory.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Caulton was “old school”. Us “old schoolers” like other “old school” guys.

  • Rick.Tudor Reply
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for the kind words from his brother, Rick, and family. There is laughter in our tears as we are on our way to make funeral arrangements.The answer to the question on the name is He was named after his grandfather Caulton Brown, a landowner in Harnett County. There is actually a road in Lillington, named after him. He did for many years carry a portable typewriter, the same royal typewriter for many years and finally converted to a laptop. His last laptop had so many birthdays it ran out of candles, and her name is Betsy. Betsy is the one who will get to retire. He was 12 years old when mom bought that royal typewriter for him. Thank you again for making our day a little bit brighter by this tribute to the best brother anyone could ever have. -Rick Tudor

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      You are very welcome. I understand Caulton really was a very humble man. All this “fuss over him” would probably embarrass him. 🙂

  • theotherboblee (Robert L. Carper) Reply
    2 weeks ago

    Well done, BobLee. Thank you for your comments about Mr. Tudor.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Thank you. I like “gentlemen” and “good guys”. 🙂

  • BC.PV Reply
    2 weeks ago

    BL, a touching tribute to someone you didn’t know well. Thank you, well done. Your columns have a way of making you think and reflect! What a gift!

    • BobLee Reply
      2 weeks ago

      Thanks Bill. There is that saying “the Good die young”… I’m learning a lot of”the Good wait until they are old too.” I think Caulton Tudor spent his Life doing what he wanted to do. What more can we ask?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>