Hello, I'm Donald J. Claxton
At least in print.
Many news reporters during the last 35 years spelled Donny with an -ie on the end. So I soon insisted on the use of my whole legal name instead. But since we’re friends, you’re welcome to call me Donny. Many close friends call me “Donald J.”
My mom calls me Donald J., too. She used to do so most when I was in trouble while growing up.
My writing began while living in Upper Michigan in the early 1970s. John Boy from the Walton’s, likely the first writer I was ever in tune with. By third grade, my parents bought me a little red typewriter. I also received typing paper and those chalky correct-o tape slips. (For those of you confused, this was before “white-out.”)
Today I have 10 different typewriters I love to use while writing first drafts.
What you may not know about me
I got an F in my eighth-grade newspaper/yearbook class. Our maternity-leave substitute teacher assigned us to write a short story. Fiction writing in a newspaper class to me was wrong. My “story” became an accounting of the dangers of writing fiction in “journalism.”
As I said, my “story” received an F, and I received a D for the six weeks. I did not get in trouble for standing my ground. The substitute did not return the following year.
Stolen DECA Club money in high school
I ruffled faculty feathers a second time during my senior year of high school. Again on the student newspaper. Students allegedly stuffed the DECA teacher’s closet door lock with tissue. When she left the room, they would allegedly open the closet. This was where she stored the club’s candy sales money.
Roughly $2,200 went missing. Our principal made up for the lost candy money with the school’s activity fund. The principal thought he would kill my story by saying, “no comment.” But I went downtown to the district’s accounting office. There, I received an interview and documentation to write the story.
In Anatomy and Physiology, the teacher said that students should not write about such. We went with the story. My Latin and newspaper/yearbook teacher did not supervise the paper the next year.
The AIDS List allegedly maintained by the Montgomery Police Department
In my senior year of college, I served as the editor of the student paper. The now-former and late-Mayor Emory Folmar, spoke one night about MPD keeping such a list in the summer of 1987.
One night before school began, a Montgomery police officer gave me my copy of what did not exist….
At age 21, I had my first national news story. Oh, yes, and the newspaper advisor, the late Blair Gaines, did not serve in such a role the following year.
The ‘foremost student iconoclast’
As a result, a university history professor dubbed me the “foremost student iconoclast.”
The Alabama Governor’s Office
I took a 12-hour internship with the governor’s photographer beginning June 6, 1988. Upon graduation, the governor’s office hired me. Over the next four years, I became the governor’s assistant press secretary.
In April 1993, Democrat Attorney General Jimmy Evans convicted the governor. The lieutenant governor assumed the governor’s office within a few hours. In the next year-and-a-half, he let his cronies make the money of their lifetimes.
Meanwhile, I went on the campaign trail with a millionaire who was running for governor. As we campaigned, Winton Blount III encouraged people to “call a man named Jeff Sessions in Mobile and ask him to run for attorney general.”
Jeff began calling Winton the “Johnny Appleseed of the Alabama Attorney General’s race.” But it was enough to get Jeff to run, and most of you know the rest of his story.
Winton came in third in the primary. But I had a ton of opposition research on now-former Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr. and former Gov. Fob James, who had won the GOP primary. So on July 5, 1994, I went to work for Fob, and when we won by 10,000 votes statewide in November, he named me his press secretary.
The Dallas Independent School District
May 25, 2001, I interviewed for the director of communications job in Dallas, Texas. I began in August. Dallas ISD was the 12th largest school district in the nation, in the fifth-largest TV market in the country. With 20,000 employees, 164,000 students, seven TV stations, two radio stations, and two daily newspapers, I was on the news often.
Since Dallas, I’ve also worked for Oklahoma City Public Schools and the Duncanville ISD.
Later I worked for one of three PR firms promoting ExxonMobil’s corporate benevolence.
This was a wonderful job. The focus encouraged Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics programs for at-risk youth.
Interactive books for the iPad
A few years later, I began making interactive books for the iPad. We put out some amazing books and training manuals for a regional gas company.
In May 2016, I suffered a back injury.
My job for the following six years became trying to recover. The situation has been up and down and taught me much about myself and others.
I appreciate those suffering from chronic pain. This is still something I deal with almost every minute of each day. When doctors began treating me, I spent the next 10.5 months on opioids. I got off the opioids. But I’d been on them long enough to affect my brain in long-lasting ways.
I’m still trying to figure out my recovery journey
In December, the Social Security Administration denied my disability claim. Not because of my present health situation, but because of a technicality. On my “last date insured by SSA,” when I was a year into recovery, my doctors and I were focusing on getting me healed. None of my doctors wrote anything in my records about this being a permanent disability.
Instead of accepting the situation, I continue to fight for relief. It will not come from the feds for almost another decade.
That means I must do what work I can, as I can. Hence, I’m writing on my website, Medium, and Substack. I’ve started a new YouTube channel. And I’m looking for remote work. Work where I can serve as a communications consultant.
Please consider supporting my work
There are ample ways, short of going to PayPal Me to offer your support for my writing. You can use the referral membership on Medium.com. On Substack, you can also begin a subscription to one of my three email newsletters.
I’m doing my level best every day to be productive. My neurosurgeon says I now need neck surgery since taking my last fall. A face-plant.
I am a survivor and will keep going, despite the situation.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for considering a subscription. We’re going to have a good time building these writing projects!