2002.05.30 The mysterious city of Ballard

Written 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.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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