I’d only been a sports reporter when I started at the G-T. And I still love sports. But something special happened when I sat down to talk to veterans of our armed forces to hear and share their stories. Thanks largely to Michael Stewart – an Okanogan County vet whose story I would still like to write someday – these men shared what it was like to risk everything for their country abroad or their families at home. Please read these.
Gerald Baker (my grandfather) – World War II
Ken Fulford – Viet Nam
John Jones – Viet Nam
Hugh “Doc” Maycumber – World War II
Floyd Kennedy – World War II
Jim Pruitt – World War II
Adam Brazil – Iraq
A few other favorites
Jack (Black) was Here – My only celebrity interview, and my most-read newspaper story.
A Cavallo – The story behind Quill Hyde’s fantastical, ominously charming, miraculously monstrous mobile party wagon.
A Taste of History – 105-year-old Lula Gardner on life in the early 1900s. Not my best-written story but one of the cool ones.
Little did I know that the idea for the name of my newspaper column would be co-opted by popular culture. When I first hired on at the Ogemaw County (MI) Herald in 2000, managing editor Bruce Bischoff forced me to start writing a column. That was his good move. Allowing him to suggest its name may not have been.
“Half-baked,” he said. “It’s perfect.”
I thought, “Yes! People always think that columns are poorly developed, and their writers lacking intelligence. And it goes with my name. Why not laugh at myself?”
Bruce was thinking of the movie by the same name that had come out a couple years earlier. A stoner comedy. It went right over my head. Less than a year later, a “Half-baked” column had won a state-wide award, and Bruce brought to my attention that he’d played me and that it was too late to make a change.
Too few years later, Bruce passed away. The column, at first dedicated only to sports, expanded to cover other topics during my time at the Okanogan County (WA) Gazette-Tribune. I kept the column name.
Bruce had actually hired me while standing on the sidelines of the old Detroit Silverdome during a state championship football game. A half-baked idea that worked out pretty well.
The Michigan editions of those columns exist only in bound editions in newspaper offices in West Branch and Standish, MI. But if you want a slice of deep rural life in North Central Washington, go for it: http://www.gazette-tribune.com/sports/half-baked/