Column is 55 years old

Print Article

Wrote the first weekly newspaper column for the Hungry Horse News on Feb. 2, 1962. It was actually a letter to the editor, Mel Ruder, from Washington, D.C., giving a mountain boy’s view of the Kennedy New Frontier. Mel called to say thanks and asked me to write a letter to him every week. Continued this assignment in D.C., and after returning to the Flathead kept doing “A Weekly Letter.”

Struggled along for years using a pencil on yellow legal tablets, which Iris then deciphered and typed on our old manual machine while holding off several small crumb smashers. Got Iris an electric typewriter in the late 1970s.

I began doing everything from first draft to finished copy with a keyboard when we got a computer in 1985. At first I couldn’t think without a pencil in hand. It was very hard to type holding a pencil so I put it in my mouth. Would eat two to three pencils per column.

Here in 1996, it has been 34 years and five months. Average fifty columns a year. Approaching 2,000 total. Up to 1,000 words a column. That means two million words.

Is it any wonder I can no longer remember what’s been covered and what hasn’t?

My Glacier Park mountain climbing guru, Dr. Gordon Edwards, says, “George has the gift of creative recall.”

Often catch myself asking something like, “Iris, have I ever written about the time those guys pulled my pants down while I was standing on a box, in a row boat, fighting a 60-pound king salmon at Kilbella Bay?”

She says something like, “Gee, honey, I didn’t remember the fish being quite that big, but if neither of us can be sure, it’s probably OK to tell it again.”

Iris is an excellent columnist’s wife.

What got me to thinking about all this was the discovery of a story on the Associated Press wire that was so different and wild, I automatically knew nothing like it had ever been mentioned in this column.

I’m going to grit my teeth and tell the repulsive adventure of Valentin Grimaldo.

Valentin and his brother Fidel were walking along a highway in the Rio Grande Valley near Edinburg, Texas, when Valentin reached into some grass and was bitten on the hand by a highly venomous coral snake, a member of the cobra family found in the southern U.S.

The AP release said, “He grabbed the snake and bit the head off...skinned it and used the skin as a tourniquet to keep the venom from spreading.”

A passing car took Valentin to the hospital. Doctors declared the tourniquet probably saved his life.

It is uncommonly reassuring on column day to absolutely know that I’ve never written about this incident before. However, snakes give me the willies. I’m not likely to relate anything so repulsive again, no matter how desperate I get.

Next week, maybe I’ll tell about how those guys pulled my pants down while I was standing on a wobbly box, in a small leaky rowboat on roaring high seas, using ultra-lite tackle, fighting an 80-pound king salmon in the North Pacific.

Epilogue:

Today, in 2017, 21 years after writing the above column, I want to clear up one thing. That salmon officially weighed out on the Canadian warden’s dock at 48 pounds. But I am positive he sweated a lot during the fight.

Life is good.

G. George Ostrom is an award-winning columnist. He lives in Kalispell.

Print Article

Read More Columns

Loss of funding to Flathead Basin Commission disappointing

December 13, 2017 at 8:15 am | Lake County Leader I am very disappointed that Montana has cut funding to the Flathead Basin Commission. That commission has generated more funds and done more good than most state agencies, so we should probably not b...

Comments

Read More

A free law lesson

December 13, 2017 at 8:14 am | Lake County Leader There is ongoing talk around the Flathead Court House about adding another judge, partly because of the increasing amount of civil lawsuits. A big percentage of the non-criminal court battles involve...

Comments

Read More

Possum news

December 06, 2017 at 8:47 am | Hungry Horse News The big news this week is that an opossum in Florida broke into a liquor store, cracked open one of those little single serve bottles of booze and got drunker than a skunk. How the possum got into t...

Comments

Read More

Revisiting forbidden territory

December 06, 2017 at 8:41 am | Lake County Leader We have a sort of “show and tell” at our Over the Hill Gang coffee sessions. Needless to day, when you have a group of guys pushing 90 years of age and who have led long careers, including high educa...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2017 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X