In an attempt to keep a tragedy in perspective, one small-town editor is said to have written the following lead paragraph:
"While 200 students studied quietly at
their desks, Johnny Jones threw principal Bob Smith out of his
fourth-floor office window."
A similar lead out
of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in early August might have read:
"While 20,000 tourists, including members of 72
in-line hockey teams and 110 softball teams, enjoyed themselves in
this four-season resort high in the Rocky Mountains, 400 members of
the Hells Angels brawled, took over the town and blocked police
from entering a motel where two men had been shot. The police were
allowed in after all the evidence had been removed."
Kim Vacariu, who edits the Steamboat Springs
Review, says the invasion of the bikers didn't bother him much:
"That great big toothless guy who physically blocked me from
delivering newspapers to the Iron Horse Motel lobby seemed nice
enough." But Vacariu worries what the town's boosters will do next,
since their track record is, well, poor: "Not only do we bring in
groups that don't spend money, we bring in groups packing concealed
weapons." And the boosters in this town, Vacariu fears, may feel
under pressure to do more boosting, what with the Vail ski area
gobbling up the resorts of Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin and
Keystone, giving it the clout to dominate Western skiing.
Aspen, Andy Stone, who edits the Aspen Times, expresses the same
fear: "Suddenly "Vail" is six mountains ... two more mountains than
Aspen" and roughly four times more skiers.
they (Aspen's economic gurus) will tell us we need to expand the
airport to handle not 737s, but 747s ... Now we need to bulldoze
those little lodges and build a dozen new Ritz-Carlton hotels."
Stone suggests that Aspen doesn't really have to
grow. "We need to keep in mind that all we really need is our fair
share ... just enough of a mouthful to keep us healthy and happy."
members worried about the loss of personal freedom may want to
check out Casper, Wyo., as a refuge. During that town's rodeo
parade, a 33-year-old woman ran naked down the street with the
words "Social Security sucks' printed on her back. She wasn't
totally naked. Streaker Kitten L. Reynolds told the Casper
Star-Tribune after her eight-block trek that she was wearing white
lace socks: "I got some class." Because her streak was a protest,
Police Lt. Jack Watters told the paper, she was in little danger of
years, the Forest Service's Smokey Bear has begged smokers and
campers to crush out cigarettes and drown campfires. Recently,
Smokey went beyond begging. The federal government wants two
campers to pay $8.5 million to cover the cost of an April fire that
burned part of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico and
threatened Los Alamos National Laboratory. The two plaintiffs are
unemployed, and one of their attorneys asked: "Why is my government
spending my tax dollars in such an absurd way?"
Had the Dome Fire in the Santa Fe National
Forest burned down the Los Alamos lab, it might have saved
officials there some embarrassment. The atomic facility revealed in
August that someone had walked off with 15 signed, framed prints,
each 11'2 by 2 feet in size, by photographer Ansel Adams. The
prints, worth $48,000, had been in a closet during a renovation of
the closely guarded
Winslow of Gunnison, Colo., claims that she heard the bartender on
the Durango/Silverton narrow-gauge railroad in Colorado ask: "Why
did the Anasazis build their houses so far from the highway?" And
retired geography professor John M. Crowley of Missoula, Mont.,
swears that the following is true:
"While I was
going through Canadian customs at Coutts, Alberta, the officer told
us about an American couple that came through in a VW with skis on
top and asked: "How far is it to the Arctic Circle? We want to go
skiing before nightfall." "
lieutenant governor of New Mexico is the man who reviews "volumes
of information" on wolves. He then transmits these volumes to the
governor, who uses them to oppose the reintroduction of wolves to
So when Albuquerque schoolchildren
wrote to Gov. Gary Johnson to say that wolves are cute and cuddly
and should be roaming free, Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley composed the
"We have a lot of wolves in New
Mexico that live in the wild. Most of them are in mountain areas
... In fact, if you ever see a wolf in the wild, please tell your
mom and stay away from it."
In fact, if any of
the kids who got the letter see a wolf in the wild, they should
tell their mom to get them new glasses. Biologists say no wild
wolves remain in New Mexico. Bradley admitted to the Albuquereque
Journal that he may have exaggerated. "But I am not convinced that
we don't have one single wolf in New Mexico."
do planners from small towns in the West do for fun? At the opening
reception of the Western Planners Conference in Idaho Falls
recently, they had to get the signature of someone who had never
been to Yellowstone, did not lose power during the July and August
blackouts, and who knew someone named Nolan or Rollan. These were
easy. The hard part in a roomful of planners from small towns was
finding someone who had never had a Freeman or militia member speak
out at some of their public meetings.
prizes: hot CDs with titles like 1992 Census of Agriculture,
Geographic Series B, U.S. Summary and County Level Data, and gift
certificates - but only from small town merchants. Strip-mall
merchants were not welcome.
Heard around the West
invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits
that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal
anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains
loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or