Today celebrates an historic event as memorable as the first three-day federal holiday or the research paper by a German professor named Waldseemuller who snubbed the myth of Christopher Columbus and declared Newark, N.J., was discovered by Amerigo Vespucci, thus labeling us “Damned Yankees” forever.
What I’m talking about, without running up flags or shooting off cannons, is the 500th weekly anniversary of the first publication of this column in your daily newspaper. And boy, am I pooped.
So anyway, on this auspicious occasion I want to recognize the person most responsible for the elimination of hundreds of evil thoughts in these columns, along with sarcastic notions and poor grammar, and who over the years proofed all my drivel and held me down if I got a little too frisky or gay — the old fashioned “gay,” of course, if you get my drift.
I’m talking about my wife Marilyn, of course, whose persistent nagging and head thumping provided 500 final copies of this weekly wisdom and caused me to wake up in the middle of the night screaming, “I before E except after Q,” or whatever.
I should also recognize my boyhood friend Smooth Heine for the many adventures we had together as youngsters, which provided fodder for dozens of columns, and for picking up the tab when last we had dinner, even if it was at the Greasy Duck Cafe and Psychiatry Shop and caused me to participate in modern medicine’s answer to the sump pump.
And to all you loyal fans out there in newspaper land, let me just say I’m happy you’re happy now that the Dallas Cowboys are back in prominence. After all these years of being a statue, it’s good to be a pigeon again.
But now a little history lesson:
This column first saw the light of day in a log cabin on the banks of Clear Creek in Colorado — no, that’s not true. It started when a newspaper publisher in Portales named Lone Beasley came to a breakfast meeting of local writers, wanna-bees, shoulda-beens, and has-beens where I was accused of never writing more than 800 words per subject, which is my limit before falling asleep or running out of cigars.
After worried reflection, Beasley asked if I would submit a column to his newspaper so that its circulation might increase when I leaned on my extended family if they didn’t subscribe. At that particular time I had just completed the Great American Novel on a coal shovel, and had time on my hands plus 750 pages of charcoal twaddle.
Well, that first column led to another and then another until one day I realized the entire downtown section of this desert town in the mountains of eastern New Mexico had revolved so that the sun rose in the north and set in the south every day, and still does as far as I’m concerned.
Through the years, our writers’ group met each Wednesday morning, much to the chagrin of a half dozen waitresses who quickly grasped the meaning of “stingy.” Marilyn joined the group when she retired from teaching, anxious to see if I’d been telling the truth about where I disappeared to every Wednesday morning and came home smelling suspiciously like stale cigarettes and sour chili.
Included in the group today is Jack Williamson known for his science fiction books and the rear view mirrors on his walker; Pat Caldwell whose look-alike twin lives in California and switches places with Pat every three years just for fun; Vicky Medley whose Tales of Hausfrau keeps us in suspense; Jennifer Broad, a biologist whose husband finds mice in light sockets; Larry Smith who walked away from a law practice and made everyone mutter, “Well, that’s a start;” and Chris Stasheff who has written dozens of fantasy novels and whose Russian surname is pronounced “A bon vino non bisogna frasca.”
There have been many others, comers and goers, over the years, some of whom grew up and went on to bigger and better groups like Rotary Club and the city council, but I have to say without hesitation that my many hours spent with this bunch could only be judged more productive by playing marbles.
But I’m not putting the blame anywhere for my 500th anniversary, and if you want, you can write me a congratulatory letter full of misspellings care of the vast numbers of pigeons on the courthouse. If that doesn’t work, get your own column.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.