2002.05.30 The mysterious city of Ballard

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

People are dying in Cle Elum, Wash. A couple of hours to the west, in Ballard, they’re passing away.

Faithful readers might recall my interest in obituary styles from newspapers that I receive.

A couple people didn’t merely die in the Cle Elum area—they died peacefully—but not a soul passed away.

My brother, Little Danny, sent two Washington papers last week and I quickly took a look at how people are passing on into another realm. For Dan, it’s the police news that makes it worth opening small weekly newspapers. I frequently hear comments from him about the Observer’s reports.

Dan sent a copy of the Ballard News-Tribune with a note attached to the front: “Don’t miss Cops and Robbers on page 3!” Actually, he used four exclamation points and the story was worth each one of them, if not more.

Where many papers use boring headlines such as ours (Police News), the News Tribune has the large heading Cops and Robbers with bullet holes scattered across the display. It must be pretty wild territory up there in…well, I’m not sure.

The paper talks about Ballard as though it’s a real place, but just try to find it on a map or in an atlas. It doesn’t really exist. People are dying and exposing themselves in an imaginary town.

The item Dan thought I might enjoy reading was titled Indecent Exposure. Dan was right. I did enjoy reading it and I enjoyed intermittent laughter while thinking about it for the next five minutes.

A man was seen standing in front of a bush at the library at around 2:50 on a Sunday afternoon with his pants down. He acted surprised when he heard a woman walking by and he quickly dressed and ran off. The woman wanted to prosecute and told police she would certainly be able to recognize the guy if she saw him again.

A suspect was later detained and denied the incident. While police went to get another witness, the man admitted he was in the area earlier in the afternoon and here’s his story.

While walking by the library, the drawstring on his shorts came untied. He stopped to retie them and then his left leg went numb, causing him and his shorts to fall. The sharp police investigator then asked how his underwear had also fallen, but the man said he wasn’t wearing any.

He was trying to get some feeling back into his left leg when the woman walked by.

I’m glad I don’t have to write stories like this one.

“I was really excited. It was a good feeling.”

This isn’t the police news anymore. This is a report on a high school sophomore who received an award from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“I thought the board was going to zig, but they didn’t. They zagged.”

That was outreach coordinator Ed Stone talking about a proposed monorail that might pass through the imaginary community of Ballard.

“Route options for the proposed monorail still remain—pardon the pun—up in the air.”

That was News-Tribune editor Adam Richter writing in an embarrassing style.

“My associates will be honorary Beavers that night. It’s a once in a lifetime deal,” Flick said.

That was Bob Flick of the Brothers Four, talking about returning to his alma mater, Ballard High School, home of the Ballard Beavers.

“Free Ballard! Free the neighborhoods!”

That was Chamber president Mark Pahlow explaining the Ballard mystery. It was a city until Seattle took it over in 1907.

“I don’t want to be 100,” she said. “I’d rather be 49.”

That was a refreshingly honest 100-year-old woman talking about her birthday.

“This will give you something to write about.”

That was a parent at the softball game when the Beaver team won its third straight Metro League title. The headline writer had to insert that sports cliché “three-peat.”

I find it very odd that writer Dean Wong included the parent’s yell in his sports story (“This will give you something to write about,” yelled one parent as I left the field), but the parent was right on two counts. It gave Dean something to write about and, thankfully, it did the same for me.

    – May 30, 2002
  • 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.
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    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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