Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Extra! Extra!

The headline (above) dates me. Extra! Extra! was the call of paper boys selling extra editions on the street corners in Jimmy Cagney movies. Jimmy Cagney? Don't ask.

I have a correction and some spin regarding my post yesterday.

First, the correction. My eldest daughter says she does, in fact, subscribe to her rural newspaper plus a horse newspaper and maybe ten magazines. But not the local daily. I stand corrected. Sorry, sorry, sorry (to lift a line from my old business partner).

Next, the spin. Admittedly, I was simplistic in claiming more geezer coverage would solve newspaper grief and woe. But I was merely making a point that precious few newspapers in the nation are devoting much more than columns on playing bridge when it comes to writing about aging issues. Running more grandparent stories, therefore, is a metaphor. Ditto, grandchild stories. The issues facing newspapers are much more complex. But why not write for your base?

This is as good a pivot as any to another war story.

As this story opens, we had purchased a struggling little weekly newspaper which had bankrupted two previous owners. A local politician, I discovered, was going around town saying our paper was trying to gut his wife's campaign for school board. We had fewer than 500 subscribers. That's not enough to gut a gnat.

At first, the weasel lied and denied spreading such a bodacious lie. Later the same day, at a party backed by 20 of his friends, he admitted spreading the manure. Why? "I was trying to send you a message," he purred.

I got right to the point: "Listen you silly SOB, you can talk to me direct without playing games. I tell you what. I've never lost an election (I had been campaign manager for many). I'll either whip your ass right now or I'll whip you in April (election time).

He didn't hit me so I walked the neighborhood repeating this story. Never printed anything of it in the paper, but the whole town knew. This was personal.

Well, his wife lost the campaign and the weasel hated me from then on. Perhaps with reason.

We were to meet again.

I helped the fledgling business group put on a street dance, complete with a celebrity dunking booth. Yes, I was first up. Enter the weasel. He must have bought $20 in softballs but couldn't throw any straighter than he could talk. Never hit the clapper. Out of ammo, he raced to the dunking booth, hit the clapper with his hand and dropped me into the cold, cold water.

Now everyone knew I had a temper. A small crowd gathered to watch the fireworks. But somehow, I managed to hang on to a trace of cool and said nothing.

The gods honored my inner struggle. The weasel was next up at the dunking booth.

Just as I hit the clapper dropping him into the cold, cold water I shouted in a stage whisper: "I peed in the pool."

It was my finest hour.


Jeff Hebert said...

Now THAT is a great story! I am still laughing, thanks George.

Denise said...

Ditto on that!! Great story and what creative thinking on your part!

lillah said...

Geo, just read this to 2 of my friends boy they had a great laugh at it!!

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