Emerald’s Gem Box…

How it all began

I was born and raised in Madison. I have lived there my entire life. I attended school at Miss Jean’s Kindergarten, Madison Academy, Aucilla Christian Academy and North Florida Junior College. I’ve never lived anywhere else. My entire life, while growing up, everyone knew me, knew who I was, who my parents were, and my entire life story, including the reason behind my name and the green clothes.
I’m often asked if Emerald Greene is my real name. I’ve also come to realize there are not too many people left that know the “whole story” (from 1964 to present) and I’ve been told I should tell the story, as one of my columns, of how we came to own the newspapers, the meaning behind my name and how the “man in green” came to be.
How it all began …
My father, Tommy Greene, grew up working in the log woods for his father, Harvey Greene. He had gotten out of the military, had come back to Madison and married my mother, Mary Ellen Greene. He was logging by day and farming by night. One day (as it was told to me) he was in the woods top-loading, and the load shifted, pinning him under it. While lying there, feeling certain he was going to die, he prayed that famous prayer, “God, if you let me out of these woods alive … I promise I’ll never step foot back in the log woods again.” God did spare my dad and he said he, in turn, kept his end of the promise.
He then tried farming full time and tried to find a job around town, but no-one was hiring. So, there he sat with a wife and new baby and no job. So, one night, as my mother slept, he tore open a paper grocery sack and made a list of a couple of dozen things he wanted to get into. Then, to the right, he listed all the items he would need for each one of them. He found office supplies and advertising in every one of the businesses that he wanted to get into.
He woke my mother up and announced he was going to open a newspaper and an office supply store. He explained he could buy his office supplies, for the newspaper, at wholesale prices and he could take the newspaper and advertise his office supply store; and that was about as close to the perfect business plan as he thought anyone could come up with!
So, for the next several months, my parents traveled the state of Florida and met every newspaper publisher and asked many questions. At each stop they made, they were told they shouldn’t open a newspaper, wouldn’t be able to do it, were too young, and would never make it. The more opposition and negativism my father met, the more determined he became.
At some point, during those several months, my dad decided that since he was opening up a brand-new newspaper against a 100-year-old competitor (the Madison Enterprise-Recorder) he needed to do something to help people get to know him and to remember him; and that is where the green came in.
He decided that from that day forward he would not own nor wear anything but green. He had told my mother she didn’t have to do the same, but she (being the dedicated wife she was) said that if he was going to do it, then she would too.
On August 5, 1964, the Madison County Carrier was born and their adventure into being real-life leprechauns began, at the young age of 25.
Up until the day he died, my father never again wore nor owned anything but green. Our house was green, the carpet was green, the furniture was green, our cars were green … everything. If someone asked him if his underwear was green, he would pull them up, out of his pants, to prove they were.
However, apparently back in the ‘60s a lot of clothes weren’t sold as green, so my mother had to boil and dye his clothing, such as undershirts, green. To this day, he is the only man I’ve ever met that wore green brogans.
My oldest brother, Harvey, was named after my father and his father. My other brother, William, was named after my other grandfather. In February of 1969, I was born. My mother says that as she lay in the hospital in labor, my father brought in the front page, already laid out, with the headline of “Keep Florida Greene is born.” His want and desire was to name me Keep Florida Greene.
Apparently, in 1969, there were billboard signs up and down the state of Florida that read “Keep Florida Green” and his thought was that I could grow up and run for governor and I would already have free advertisement up and down the entire state. My mother profusely refused to name me that (thank God) and told him to think up a different name; and that is how I was named Emerald Greene. Three years later my parents had a fourth child, Forest Greene, who later died due to complications.
As younger children, my mom bought our clothes so, of course, we wore green a lot. However, we were never forced to wear green and as we got older and picked out our own clothes and style, we were always allowed to buy what we wanted and what color we wanted. But my parents held true to their green. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “If it ain’t green, it ain’t mine.”
Growing up, my cat was named Olive, our bulldog was named Gangrene, our German Shepard was named Shamrock and we had three green Guinea Pigs that the Florida Press Association gave my father as his out-going gift when he was president.
My Dad has been featured in several state and national newspaper and magazine articles as “The Man In Green” and was featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. He was well-known for the parties he threw, at our Swamp House and Hunting Club, where green eggs, green grits and green ham were served along with several different flavors of green “spirits.”
As my brothers and I grew up and married and began having children, the green names continued. My children are not named anything “green” because their last names, of course, were not Greene, but my brothers kept the tradition up, as have some of their children. We can now boast of Kelli Greene, Hunter Greene, Jade Greene, Forest Greene, Matthew JohnDeere Greene and Saige Greene.
My father officially “retired” from the newspaper business in 1999 and I became publisher of the Madison County Carrier and the Madison Enterprise-Recorder. He began spending more of his time with his other businesses such as real estate, cattle farming, self-storage units, and publishing books. But he was still beside me on a day-to-day basis when I needed his guidance.
I subsequently purchased the Monticello News on July 1, 2007, and founded the Jefferson County Journal, as well, to be published on Fridays.
My daughter Cheltsie and I now publish all four newspapers a week and enjoy the thrill in bringing our hometown news to our hometown citizens. We have two great staffs, in each county, and consider it an honor to have them all as part of our family.
Thank you all, our readers, for your continued friendship, love and patronage and we hope we continue to meet and exceed your expectations, in the years to come.