For much of my working life I published small town weekly newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and in northern Arizona’s White Mountains. A while back I wrote about those days in a series of blog posts that readers seemed to enjoy, and I have had several requests from new blog readers to repeat the series. So I thought I would, and hopefully they will be well received.
When you run a small town newspaper, everyone knows you, and they don’t hesitate to call you at any hour of the day or night to tip you off to a possible story, to complain about an editorial you wrote, or to demand that you print a front page story about anything and everything, from their son being unfairly arrested just because he was driving 50 miles over the speed limit while drunk, because raccoons are getting in their trash cans and something needs to be done about it, or because their granddaughter is running for homecoming queen.
East of the small town of Snowflake, Arizona there is a rather desolate area that everybody calls “east of Snowflake,” appropriately enough. A lot of real Looney Tunes lived out there because you could buy 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 have thrown together, old mobile homes, travel trailers, and ancient school buses they pulled out there, and at least one person I know of lived in a cave. Yeah, he was a real caveman. These folks are suspicious of outsiders and even wary of their “uppity” 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 was awakened by a phone call 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!
Congratulations Jean Watson, winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of Stillborn Armadillos, the first book in my John Lee Quarrels mystery series. Life is already complicated enough for John Lee, what with his estranged wife dropping in for unannounced sleepovers, her oversexed sister tempting him, his pot smoking ponytailed grandfather growing his own stash, his Elvis obsessed grandmother, and being caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle between the Sheriff and Chief Deputy. But when a road construction crew unearths the skeletons of three murder victims, John Lee suddenly finds himself on the trail of a killer who may well have died long before the deputy was even born. And then a mysterious sniper begins shooting at deputies…
We had 88 entries this time around. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed. After 90 days, unclaimed prizes revert back to the drawing pool for a future contest.
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
Thought For The Day – Even the tiniest poodle or chihuahua is still a wolf at heart.