April 4, 2014
“You need to distribute your columns more broadly,” my friend Phil scolded me some months ago. “You’ll never win a Pulitzer Prize if you don’t get your stuff out there.” Phil is a columnist for our Annapolis paper and a retired international business executive. He’s like that classic E.F. Hutton commercial on TV: “When Phil talks, people listen.”
I took Phil’s criticism to heart, but added: “Phil, I will do as you say. But I’m not going to win a Pulitzer Prize. They don’t give Pulitzer Prizes to pro-lifers, or writers who defend marriage. Much less do they award Pulitzer Prizes to people who write to uphold religious freedom.”
I told Phil I was perfectly content to write five to seven columns a week, mostly on these topics. And if I offend the pink panzers of political correctness, that’s fine, too.
The reason we have a First Amendment is not so we can win Pulitzer Prizes, but so we can help to keep this Great Republic free. I remember reading Ben Franklin’s sage words to the Philadelphia lady who quizzed him. Did the Constitutional Convention give Americans a republic or a monarchy? “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it,” Dr. Franklin answered.
So, I told Phil, “I won’t even win a Wurlitzer Prize for quantity of output in journalism.” Phil got the jab. Wurlitzer is the maker of organs and the fictional Wurlitzer Prize goes to those who spend their days at the proverbial keyboard, turning out volumes of work.
I had forgotten about my imaginary Wurlitzer Prize when Phil showed up at our doorstep after 9 pm one evening several weeks later. I was hoping nothing was wrong. It was most out of character for Phil to ring our doorbell at that hour. We are believers in the Ronald Reagan rule that you know you are middle-aged when you are offered two temptations and you choose the one that will get you home by nine o’clock.
Putting on my robe, I rushed to get the door. There was Phil, holding out a cylindrical mailing tube. Puzzled, I tore it open to see what he might be offering me at that unusual hour. He had an impish grin on his face. I pulled out the rolled up document.
It was a colorful poster, a blow-up of the 1995 U.S. Postage Stamp honoring the Wurlitzer Corporation. The poster—featuring a Wurlitzer-made juke box—was inscribed: “To Bob Morrison—Deserved Wurlitzer Prize for Writing that is Music to so many Ears.” It was signed by the retired CEO of Wurlitzer Corporation.
Phil had been sending this gentleman my columns and decided to surprise me with my own coveted Wurlitzer Prize.
As you read this, you may be saying to yourself: How absurd; no one has ever heard of the Wurlitzer Prize. But everyone has heard of the Pulitzer Prize.
That may be. But since things are valued as they are rare, my comeback question is this:
How many Pulitzer Prize winners have you heard of? Dozens, right?
You are now reading a column by the world’s only Wurlitzer Prize winner.
Thanks for reading.