2010.12.29 A study in desperation

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

This is the time of year when I generally run through the past 51 By the Way columns to summarize the silliness, you might say.

This time I thought it might be more interesting to look over the paper in general to see what this rag is all about.

For the most part, it appears to be a study in desperation. There are traces of travail everywhere.

It started with the very first issue of the year. There were few sporting events scheduled to help fill space. Apparently there was no time or no ideas for a feature story. Wait, I remember now. We were up north. I came home and quickly created the Sign Quiz, perhaps the most popular of Observer quizzes.

I made it through two issues of the year before I ran out of front page photo material and did my usual—packed up the gear and headed to the woods to find something interesting.

That third week of January offers a good glimpse into the Observer’s coverage. We wrote about a slaughterhouse from the past, a story that made reference to a finger lost in the meat grinder.

I made it through three weeks of the year before I had to give in and re-run an old By the Way column from 20 years ago.

The third week of February gives another indication of the way I operate. There’s a story about Derrek Tew, the master of magnetism, who works with MRIs at the Cleveland Clinic. I no longer remember how long it was that I didn’t write that story. It was on my list for a couple of years, at least. And then I finally jumped on it.

I have a rather lengthy list of stories to write. Don’t push me; I’ll get to them eventually. It’s not simply a matter of desperation that drive me to finally tackle one of those old ideas. I don’t really know what’s behind it.

There it is, March 10: the oddest front page in my too-long history at the Observer. It’s a photo of a piece of the Berlin Wall. How’s that for local coverage?

I was on another mini-vacation, following my wife to New York City where she was attending a library program. I happened to take a little video of this section of the wall while out geocaching. I later took a still frame off the video and there it went on the front. I had no time to find something when I got back home. It was a decent issue of the paper overall, but that photo.…

I had a guest column by Heather Walker that week, one of four or five guest writers that helped me through the year.

I was back to using an old column the first week of April, but then on April 28 came the oddest column display of the year.  I simply ran out time and something to say after about two-thirds of the space was filled. The column ended early and a story appeared underneath it.

On May 5 I just got darn lucky. How often does an enormous swarm of bees land on the front of the Deli? Thanks to the work of beekeeper Don Thompson, the front page was in good shape.

The first guest column of the year from my son-in-law, Taylor, appeared in June. The rule is that he doesn’t leave Morenci without turning in a column, but I’ll be darned if he didn’t escape last Sunday without one. It was a short visit. I guess he’s excused.

June 22: desperation time. That’s when the door knob quiz was published. I’m always told that the quizzes are too easy, but this time it was too hard.

Back to the woods July 21 to find a damselfly eating a mosquito in distress. You can’t really call this desperation because I really like to be in the woods with a camera. I’d print one of those nature photos every week if my colleague and wife would allow it. She won’t; she knows people are needed in those pictures.

July 28 featured the story about the railroad that used to connect Morenci and Fayette. Did anybody read it? Did anybody really care? Hard to say, but I enjoy writing a story such as that one and I have to do these who-cares? stories now and then for my own sanity.

My desperation is over for this week. This space is rapidly filling and I need to stop.

I must admit, I’m impressed with the array of stories we write about in a year, but most of them aren’t my wacko ideas. They come from readers and they’re greatly appreciated. Keep them coming; relieve my desperation.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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