By Dave Simpson, Columnist
The world is full of Tribunes, Posts and Gazettes. Even a Plain Dealer, and some Heralds.
But, there’s only one Boomerang.
Forty nine years ago this week I started my newspaper career in Laramie. And I’m proud of my Boomerang roots.
The Boomerang was named after humorist Bill Nye’s mule back in 1881. The paper was on the second floor of a building, and Nye said you could take the stairs or twist Boomerang’s tail.
Anyone who spent time at UW probably has fond memories of Old Main, frigid games at War Memorial Stadium, and of course the Buckhorn Bar. (The bullet hole in the mirror in the back bar is still there.)
One former sports editor of the Boomerang (not Bob Hammond) got tired of explaining the name of the paper, and referred to us as “the newspaper in Laramie.” Seemed like a cop-out to me.
The “Daily Record,” – a long list of local arrests, cop and sheriff’s calls, births, marriage licenses, land transfers, court actions, fire and ambulance calls – was popular. So popular in fact that a local bluegrass group (Georgia Rose) named an album “The Laramie Daily Record.” (It was good.)
For five years, part of my job was to compile the Daily Record, hitting offices from the courthouse to city hall to the campus police to the hospital. Didn’t pay much, but it was probably my favorite job ever.
One year at Easter, a guy dressed up as the Easter Bunny to entertain kids at the hospital. When he finished, still dressed as the Easter Bunny, he went to the Cowboy Bar for a beer. Some tipsy cowboys hopped around, making fun of him. When he left, he got into his pickup and happened to see the amused cowboys. According to police reports, the big bunny held up his .44 pistol in a threatening manner. The Easter Bunny was subsequently cited for threatening folks with a firearm.
I reported the incident in the Boomerang. The Associated Press picked it up. And a few days later, the pistol-packing bunny incident was reported by Paul Harvey on his national radio broadcast.
In 1976 I had to report my own divorce in the District Court notes in the Daily Record. Judge Vernon Bentley granted the divorce, after telling my wife I was a courthouse regular, and they kind of liked me. And he predicted, “It wouldn’t surprise me if you two got back together someday.” Darned if he wasn’t right. Nine years later we got back together, and have now been married for 37 years.
Judge Bentley and County Attorney George Zimmer were discussing a case one day in Zimmer’s third-floor office when a prisoner escaped from the jail one floor above, falling past Zimmer’s window. Bentley said, “I think the defendant just went past your window.” The escapee was recaptured on the courthouse grounds, with multiple broken bones.
A controversial justice of the peace held me in contempt one day for trying to attend a closed session when a state legislator pleaded guilty to drunk driving. But a sheriff’s deputy refused to arrest me, and Judge Bentley said if I had been arrested, he would have put me on work release. Still makes me laugh.
We had a wonderful county agent named Arlowe Hulett back then, whose only bad habit was calling me “Davey.” He took me out to a ranch near Rock River one day to see a cattle mutilation. The rancher said he’d never seen anything like it, and his son-in-law, who was in veterinary school, said the incisions were done with surgical precision.
We put the head in the trunk of Arlowe’s car, and drove fast back to Laramie, to keep the smell behind us, taking it to the state vet lab, where the ruling later was that the wounds had dried out, explaining the precise look of the cuts. Predators, they ruled, not UFOs.
Cattle mutilations are back in the news, and you can call me a tin-foil hat conspiracy nut, but I’d still put my money on the lifelong ranchers.
Folks all over Wyoming have wonderful memories of their years in Laramie, and it was my good fortune to get more than my share.
I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.