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Edward Joseph "Ed" Cullen, III (born August 25, 1946), is a features writer for the Morning Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a frequent contributor to All Things Considered on National Public Radio. A collection of his popular newspaper and radio essays was published in 2006 under the title Letter in a Woodpile.

Edward Joseph "Ed" Cullen, III
Born (1946-08-25) August 25, 1946 (age 73)
United States Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA
ResidenceBaton Rouge, Louisiana
NationalityUnited States
Alma materBolton High School
Louisiana State University
GenreHuman interest essays
SpouseMartha Lynn Colvin
ChildrenEmily Anne Cullen Frizzell
Michael Edward Cullen

Cullen's first commentary, "Porch Steps Baseball," aired on All Things Considered in July 2001. Since then he has penned humorous sketches about life in south Louisiana including commentaries on Mardi Gras, family vacations, science fairs, and the often unsuccessful attempt to keep cool in what he humorously terms "Guatemala North".


Cullen was born in Alexandria, the parish seat of Rapides Parish and the largest city in Central Louisiana, to Edward Cullen, Jr. (1916–1964), a native of Denison, Texas, and the former Mildred Bonnette (1917–1960), a department store worker originally from Avoyelles Parish. His sister, Geneva H. Cullen (born 1950), married Robert Valentio "Robin" Stewart (born 1948) of Pineville. The Cullens lived on Vance Avenue in the Alexandria Garden District. He attended L.S. Rugg Elementary School, where his future mother-in-law was the school librarian. In 1964, he graduated from Bolton High School. After his mother's death, Cullen lived for a time with an aunt and an uncle. He then attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches but left after three semesters to enlist in the United States Navy. Cullen completed his studies in journalism in 1972 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Cullen is married to the former Martha Lynn Colvin (born May 1943), also originally from Alexandria, the daughter of Emerson J. Colvin and Pauline Huddleston Hathaway Colvin (1907-2011). Pauline Colvin was a teacher, school librarian, Baptist Church worker, and pianist. They have two children, Emily Cullen Frizzell, formerly Emily Nash, and husband Mike Frizzell of Austin, Texas, and Michael Edward Cullen and wife Monica of Lafayette, Louisiana[1]


One of Cullen's more popular essays refers to his own neighborhood near the LSU campus, which suffered an increase in noise level when parents purchase residential homes for their college-age students, a newer trend unknown when Cullen himself was a student.

Cullen's regular Sunday column, known as Attic Salt, runs on the front page of the features section. He writes primarily on the obstacles and opportunities of daily living. Column topics, for instance, have included a look at the return of flip-flop footwear for the summer or the problems of planting vegetable gardens during the spring, a task Cullen himself faithfully undertakes each year. In his youth, Cullen had a paper route and worked at a snow-cone stand. From childhood memories, he recalled a girl who came to the stand and always ordered "Tutti Frutti" flavor. So he wrote an essay entitled "The Tutti-Frutti Girl". What to others might seem mundane or a non-story, Cullen can dig to the essence of life.

His NPR essays, carried on the Internet too, created demand for the publication of Letter in a Woodpile, the title of which is based on a note that he left for his son with instructions on how to start a fire at the family camp. His most heart-warming essay concerns Christmas 1959, the last Christmas with his mother in which he failed to receive the shortwave radio that he was expecting. In "The Visitor", Cullen tells about a young man "Sean" who drops by to see the house where he had grown up, the Cullen home: "We are drawn to our old houses hoping to find at least one thing that is the way we left it. We may hope to hear the voices that once warmed the walls. Failing that, it is enough to have gone home." (Letter in a Woodpile, p. 128)

Regarding hurricanes, Cullen writes that "South Louisiana loves a hurricane that misses. The relationship between hurricane and homeowner is like the dance between bull and matador. It's a thrill to flirt with danger until horn or storm strikes home." (Letter in a Woodpile, p. 72)

Cullen began working for The Advocate as an obituary clerk while he was attending LSU. Over the years he has been a police, city hall, and school board reporter. He has worked at no other newspaper, a stability relatively rare in a profession known for mobility.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Pauline Huddleston Hathaway Colvin". July 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2014.