Columns

2002.10.30 Halloween warning: Look out for little Saddams

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

BY RICH FOLEY


I’ve got to quit looking at the tabloid papers for sale at the supermarket. Last week, the front page of Weekly World News scooped the mainstream press with the startling news that an Iraqi submarine was prowling the waters of peaceful Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, my turn at the checkout came before I could get the particulars and the paper was sold out on my next trip to the store.

So, I’m forced to guess at what the details of the story could have been. Of course, maybe my imagination is better than that of the writers at WWN, but I’ve got to admit, Iraqi subs plying the coastline of, say, Escanaba is pretty creative.

There is the problem of how an enemy submarine got all the way up the St. Lawrence Seaway and through the Soo Locks without being detected. And does a pretty much land-locked country like Iraq have a sub or even a navy in the first place? But since when do the tabloids let facts get in the way of a good story?

And since Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein is known to have several body doubles of himself in circulation to confuse his enemies, I suppose we’re fooling ourselves to think there is only one submarine in Lake Michigan. So residents of Muskegon, Chicago, Milwaukee and other cities around the lake should probably be on alert for additional subs. And be especially careful of any little Saddams who show up at your door on Halloween. You never know when one of them might be real. Perhaps some questioning would be in order.

I’m told during World War II, spies were sometimes uncovered by asking them questions that only native Americans would know the answers to. The problem was, this system didn’t always work. I read about one American general who was arrested and held several hours because although he said he was from Illinois, he didn’t know which league the Chicago Cubs played in.

This year, a good question might be, “Who played in the 2002 World Series?” Or maybe, “Name one member of the world champion Anaheim Angels.” At least, if San Francisco had won the World Series, most people are familiar with the name of Barry Bonds. But how many people outside of California can name even one Angel?

So maybe baseball trivia isn’t the best way to uncover possible spies among us. But while I’m on the subject, it gives me a chance to share a great baseball story.

Back in 1962, future Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry was a rookie with the San Francisco Giants. He showed promise as a hurler at the major league level, but his batting was simply terrible. While watching him take batting practice one day, Giants manager Alvin Dark remarked, “There will be a man on the moon before he hits a home run in the big leagues.”

Dark was correct in his prediction, but it was a close contest. Seven and a half years later, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. A scant 34 minutes later, Gaylord Perry hit his first major league home run.

If you do get a suspect trick or treater, be careful if they ask for directions. In fact, I’ve got the perfect map to loan a possible enemy agent.

I recently picked up a free “2002 Michigan Relocation Guide, featuring Lenawee County” at a store. It contained a very neat, uncluttered county map. The reason it was so neat was half the towns in Lenawee were missing.

That’s right, Weston, Jasper, and Fairfield don’t appear on the map. Neither do Riga, Palmyra, Tipton or Ridgeway. Somehow, Clayton and Deerfield manage to retain their identities, but the other smaller towns are out of luck.

A person could get lost if they depended on this map for help. So if a wet, suspicious-looking trick-or-treater asks you for directions back to Lake Michigan, ask them a sports trivia question or two before you go ahead and help them out. Then call the Weekly World News.

    – Oct. 30, 2002 

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