Monday, January 28, 2008

Bearly Here

Hello, Wilbur Hucks here. I haven't posted for a blue moon, seems like. We're all kinda quiet this year. I gotta tell ya, life is different in Kanner Lake from when we started this blog. So much has happened here. I never did see a little town like this one make the national news so much in such a short time. Oh, things have calmed down again--for now. But after three different whopping events, we can't quite get the hang of settling down for good. Sort of like an itchy feelin' in your drawers. Keeps you wiggling around, not quite able to scratch the thing. Here at Java Joint we can't help but wonder what's coming next.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be the storyteller of this here group, so I'd better pull out one. Now of course, all my stories are true, even though folks'll look ya straight in the face and tell ya they ain't. I figure it's their loss if they don't want to believe what I tell 'em.

So here's the story when I took on a bear--bare-handed. Well, more like footed.

Since we were youngsters, old Wally Keller had been telling me he wanted to sneak up on a black bear and give him a boot in the pa-toot. Don't ask me where he got such a fool notion in his head. I told him from the start he was a downright idgit, but he kept on. Then he started calling me chicken 'cause I didn't want nothing to do with it. Nobody calls me chicken. Even at the age of eight. I told Wally if he and I ever got the chance, I'd be the one to give it to the bear. Fifty-some years went by. Wally and I grew up. Wally and me went off to war and came back. (Thank the Lord.) Wally got married; I got married. We both had kids. Had us some good times with our families and some bad. In all the ruckus of life in general, we forgot about that childhood promise.

Then one day when Wally and I were hiking, lo and behold out of the blue we came up on a big black bear napping in the sun with his head resting on his paws. Wally pointed at the huge critter and then aimed his finger at me. I was about to shake my head no when Wally mouthed "You're chicken." Well, he's right about that. But then I got to thinking, doggone, we'd waited over half a lifetime for that moment, and could this war veteran just walk away? Right then and there my decision was made.

I snuck up on that bear so quiet it would have made Daniel Boone proud. Got my feet set for running, hands up and fingers spread for balance. Holding my breath. Up came one foot while I made good and sure I was stable on the other. Then I let my boot fly. Tell you what. That bear let out a howl the likes you never heard and took off like he'd been shot out of a cannon. Likely didn't stop until he crossed the state line.

Wally and I fell on the ground laughing until we near split our guts. I came back from that hike with the proof I'm no chicken, though I suppose you could call me a durn fool. But I had me a good story to tell.

Wanta hear it in person? (It's a whole lot better with hand and food gestures.) Come visit us at Java Joint. Only--stay off the stool near the counter. It's mine.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 3 comments links to this post
Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ink and Paper

"It isn't the magnitude of an event that makes it news; it's the people reporting it."

Those are the words of my wise grandfather.

Suddenly in Kanner Lake we find ourselves in a new year. Where did the last one go? In 2006 and 2007 our town saw big news--national news--happen right here. Events we wouldn't wish on any town, much less ours. We all are looking forward to a quiet 2008. As owner of the Kanner Lake Times, I'll be happy to return to reporting on everyday stories of our town. Which brings me back to my grandfather's wisdom.

"Jared," he'd say, "The world's best golfer could be some Eskimo in Alaska, whacking a snowball with a stick. Big news, right? Wrong! Not unless some reporter finds him, and writes a story. Then it's news." He ended every conversation on the topic with the same line: "There's no greater power than that which is generated by the combination of ink and paper."

Grandfather started the Kanner Lake Times in 1944 and ran it with the enthusiasm of Wily Coyote chasing the Roadrunner. It didn't matter to him that not much interesting happened in Kanner Lake. The way Granddad reported things, every pie bake-off and fishing tournament was big news. He had a way of getting people excited about things that weren't exciting. He certainly got me excited. At eight years old, I could hardly wait to start working on the paper.

Actually, I couldn't wait, so I started my own. The first and only edition of The Moore Monthly, came out in November 1944. I'd written my newspaper on notebook paper, then painstakingly copied it over and over fifty times (that was in the day before Xerox machines). A lot of work for a kid, but I didn't care. I'd be making ten cents for every paper I sold, I hoped. It was a nice little paper, considering it had an editor with a second grade education. I started with what I knew. Made a comic strip about my dog, Elmer, in which he stole a hot dog off the grill. The thought-bubble above his head said, "It really IS a dog-eat-dog world." I cheated on the weather report, copying information out of the real newspaper.

Since all newspapers have obituaries and I didn't know anyone dead, I wrote a nice little piece about my friend Tommy's goldfish, Speckle, who'd recently taken a tragic suicidal leap from his bowl. I covered every inch of Kanner Lake on my ten-speed, seeking out news and scribbling any interesting tidbit I could find in a little red notebook. My paper had stories about the Anderson's new kittens, the big fish a fifteen-year-old kid named Wilbur Hucks caught that weekend, and the mysterious damage to the stop sign at the corner of Barley and Hillwood Roads.

All of that would have been fine, but I didn't stop there. I'd heard Grand-dad say that you could always count on politics to fill up blank space. He'd also told me that a good reporter always looked for a unique angle--something other people didn't know. That's why I finagled a sleepover at Martin Pulaski's house. His dad, Martin Sr., was running for mayor. I figured I'd watch and listen closely to find out some little known fact about Mr. Pulaski, and I'd have my politics column. Too bad I didn't know enough to refrain from publishing the fact that Mr. Pulaski wore a toupee and enjoyed watching General Hospital every day.

My papers sold out in one lunch period and I made a killing, but once my customers brought them home and they fell into their parents' hands, I was in big trouble. Mom shut down my business, and Mr. Pulaski blamed me for his landslide loss in the mayoral race. To his dying day, he scowled at me whenever I met him on the street.

Ah, the power of reporting.

Signing off,

Jared Moore

Posted by Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM 1 comments links to this post