Reader's ideas; guests from afar 2015.07.29

I leave town; I use an old column from a score of years ago. It’s as simple as that. There’s only so much that can be accomplished.

This look back to 1995 refers to more relics from the past such as the paper photograph. I used to spend hours in the Observer basement creating photographs amid the smelly chemicals and the heart-breaking errors.


The Observer had another successful photo booth at the Town and Country Festival. We put out five boxes of old photos for people to pick through and I think about 400 pictures were taken.

It was pretty steady business all day Saturday. In fact, people started pawing through the boxes before the display was set up.

We also had a jug called “If I ran the newspaper…” which was supposed to serve as a suggestion box. Not too many people responded, but I will discuss the results here.

In addition to the written responses, there was one verbal comment offered. If I ran the newspaper, I would: “Sell it!”

Two people suggested that we write the date of a photograph on the back. Good idea. It can be quite a challenge to remember the reason for some of those pictures from the early 1980s. From now on, we’ll try to get that taken care of each week.

Another person suggested more fire and rescue coverage. That reminds me of the old newspaper joke about starting a fire because there’s no news to report. That’s one way to get more fire news. It also reminds me of the little paper in Hillsdale County that asked for suggestions and one reader demanded more obituaries.

“If I owned the paper…I would make the stories more about kids and make it more bunny.” That last word is probably “funny.” Make the paper more funny.

Similarly, the next suggestion calls for “less (mildly) amusing columns, more comics, hunting and fishing.”

I don’t know if that reader wants fewer columns or strongly amusing columns. He will probably have to turn to other sources for really amusing stuff.

How do you like that? I suffer here at the keyboard every week trying to come up with mild amusement, and someone is telling me to knock it off.

A weaker man would simply quit, but not me. I’ll try all the harder to remain mildly amusing, never daring to approach the genuinely funny.

The most comprehensive suggestion card included enlarging the office bathroom, buying a new cash register, buying a coffee pot, instituting something known as the “coffee break,” serving catered lunches, giving raises to Observer employees, as in award-winning wages for an award-winning staff.

I trashed that suggestion really quickly. I threw it right in the wastebasket of the little bathroom.

Forget the Town and Country business, Morenci in itself is a summer festival. People are streaming into town from all over.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, we had a pair of guests arrive from New York City. Four days after they left, four people from Maine stopped in. Three minutes after they left, three people from northern Michigan arrived. We go Up North for vacation; some northerners visit Morenci.

It didn’t end there. Two days later, a family from Montréal walked into the Observer office. Their last name was Morency and they wondered about the origin of our town name.

I gave them the usual embarrassing story—we don’t really know. It probably came from a misspelling of the French Mont Morency, meaning a mountain of cherries. Perhaps the more romantic version is that it came from some local Native Americans. It’s probably a Potawatomi word meaning “that which oozes from a poison ivy sore.”

The visitors’ quest for information might have been a thinly disguised ploy. The mother spoke some French to her husband who asked if their youngest son could use our bathroom—our salle de bain.

I don’t care what my staff thinks of that little room. Noticing the look on the lad’s face, I didn’t pause for a second before giving them a quick “Oui, oui.”