White plumes of smoke rose from the Vatican. A new Pope had been selected.
It’s an ancient ritual, but I think it’s cool. And when it happened this week in Rome, it made me think of other ways that we announce significant events.
From my childhood I can recall the discordant sounds that would disrupt the TV show you were watching followed by these words: “We interrupt this program with this breaking news…” Decades later those sounds still capture my undivided attention.
Much of the anxiously awaited news of my youth came on a list tacked to a bulletin board. Throngs of people pressed forward to strain to read it. Maybe you remember the knot in your stomach as your finger ran down the list to see if you made the team, passed the course, or were admitted to the club.
Some announcements are devastating. The phone call at 2 a.m. The visiting soldiers in dress blues carrying dog tags.
Others are exhilarating. The cry of a baby in the delivery room. The first blast of the organ as the bride starts down the aisle.
Some Supreme Court decisions are read aloud in open court. Landmark decisions are received by breathless reporters amid masses of people. Remember Bush v. Gore in 2000? Or, more recently, the “Obamacare” decision last summer?
When juries reach a verdict they usually knock on the door. The bailiff then goes to the judge and news trickles to the lawyers. When you are waiting for a verdict, every noise in the courthouse sounds like a knock on the door.
In Upson County, we don’t worry about that. There is a light over the jury room door that announces that the verdict is ready.
White plumes of smoke would be better, but you know how fire marshals can be!