After reading yesterday’s blog post Stepping On Toes, in which I mentioned receiving death threats and being assaulted during my time publishing small town newspapers, a couple of blog readers said they would like to hear some stories from those days. I’ve definitely got some stories to tell, and they don’t all involve death threats or things like that. Some are even downright funny.
For many years I published a weekly newspaper in northern Arizona’s White Mountains. East of the small town of Snowflake there is a rather desolate area that everybody calls “east of Snowflake,” appropriately enough. A lot of real Looney Tunes live out there because you can get land for almost nothing. Granted, most of it has no water or power, but if you are a doomsday prepper, an anti-government militia type, or just a hermit who wants to be away from people, that was, and still is, the place to be. People live in shacks they had thrown together, old mobile homes and travel trailers and school buses they have pulled out there, and at least one I know of lived in a cave. Yeah, he was a real caveman. These folks are suspicious of outsiders and even wary of their neighbors who live close enough to a road to have utilities and telephones.
One such character, a harmless but eccentric fellow named Ed, had a vivid imagination and I could tell you many stories about him. Early one Sunday morning I got a phone call at home from Ed, telling me that a flying saucer had landed on his property and that I needed to get an undercover reporter out there. I said “sure, Ed” and went back to sleep. A little while later he called back and told me that I needed to get an undercover reporter out there because the military was there rounding up all these little alien guys. I blew him off again and went back to sleep, or at least tried to. But Ed was persistent when he was on a roll, and he called a third time and told me that the soldiers were machine-gunning the little aliens in a dry wash on his property, and he again told me I needed to get an undercover reporter out there.
I told him that I already had a reporter on site, and Ed replied that he had not seen anybody. That’s when I told him he had not seen anybody because they were “undercover.” I guess that satisfied him, because I didn’t hear anything more from him that day. But I sure did other times!
Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Cops and Writers: From the Academy to the Street by my friend Patrick J. O’Donnell. Patrick recently retired from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Police Department, and runs the Cops and Writers Facebook page, which is a valuable resource for anyone writing mysteries or crime thrillers. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a police officer, this is the book that tells you how it all gets started, from basic training at the police academy to hitting the streets as a rookie patrol officer working with a Field Training Officer (FTO), along with a lot of other information about things like arrest techniques, different types of police assignments, and stories from Patrick’s own experiences in the trenches. Even if you’re not a writer, this is a book you will enjoy. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.
Thought For The Day – I’m not very good at giving advice. Could I interest you in a sarcastic comment instead?
As a follow up up to yesterday’s post regarding COVID-19, my friend’s grandson is a college student in Bellingham Wa. He shares an apt with another student. The grandson got really sick about 10 days ago. He sought medical help and was denied treatment and Covid testing and was sent home. He was in bed for 5 days before he finally started feeling better. Yesterday morning, he found his roommate dead from the virus. He was 21 and had no prior medical issues. Probably figured he wouldn’t get tested or treated either and tried to ride it out.
The only way this virus stops is for us to stay home. This virus travels because we do. When we stop, it stops.
Loved that story! Please share more, Nick. A nice break from all the gloom and doom around us.
I worked at a small town newspaper in Missouri when I got out of college in 1965 until I was drafted two years later. People would be surprised at the things that happen even in small towns. Our “Ed” was a man named Carl who reported seeing everyone from Winston Churchill to Johnny Carson to Adolph Hitler and John Dillinger hanging out in local restaurants or knocking on his door. I hope you share more stories from those days.
Nick, having been a fan of your White Mountain Weekly and your tell it like it is editorials back in the day, I know exactly who Ed is. Used to see him at the swap meet and he always had a crazy story to tell. I am sure you saw his huge “diamonds” too. I think everybody did. I hope you share more stories from the old hometown. We left in 2012 to be closer to medical facilities in Phoenix. Getting old ain’t for sissies.