Dave Simpson: Fending Off Those Negative Waves

Columnist Dave Simpson writes, "A retired wife, mother, cook, and inveterate reader, Kitty was the only person I know who actually confronted a bear. And prevailed."

Dave Simpson

July 17, 20234 min read

Simpson with dog 5 22 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

In the movie “Kelly's Heroes,” tank commander Oddball (Donald Sutherland) laments the “negative waves” emanating from his fellow soldiers.

“Always with the negative waves, Moriarity,” Sgt. Oddball tells his beleaguered mechanic.

There are plenty of negative waves around us these days, and the ill-will and anger are enough to harsh a guy's mellow.

So take a break, and remember some of the fine examples around us. Here are three of mine, mentioned here with first names only.

 - Kitty, one of my Snowy Range neighbors, is the only person I know who actually confronted a bear.

 And prevailed.

In her retirement years, a wife, a mom, a good cook, and an inveterate reader, Kitty died last September. She was part of our remote mountain neighborhood, and we miss her.

Some years back there were black bear sightings in our little collection of cabins. Many of us went out and bought bear spray.

One bear made off with a 12-pack of beer (I think it was Pabst) from outside a cabin. The empties were never found.

I spotted a cinnamon-colored bear that year – it ran when it saw me – and it was the only bear I've seen in 42 summers in the Snowy Range.

Kitty looked out her window one day and saw a bear climbing onto her deck, trying to get to a bird feeder. She grabbed a can of bear spray, walked out on the deck, and gave it a dose. It cried out in pain as it fled. And  Kitty felt bad about it. That was Kitty.

I always asked Kitty what she was reading. We traded favorites. (Check out “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, which Kitty suggested. It made it all the way to my mother's book group in Ohio. Everybody loved it.)

Two weeks ago, Kitty's  family dedicated “Kitty's Corner” little lending library, a cabinet next to the road with books folks up here – 50 miles from the libraries in Laramie and Rawlins – can share with our neighbors.

What a fitting tribute.

(I'm looking for a book on bears to put in Kitty's Corner.)

- Kim is what one well-known agriculture writer once called “a fantastic farmer,” growing corn and soybeans on some of the world's most fertile soil in Central Illinois.

He educated himself on property taxes – no small feat in high-tax Illinois – and somehow convinced the county commissioners to put a county-option property tax cap measure on the ballot, limiting increases to the rate of inflation or 5 percent, whichever was less.

Kim chaired the committee that promoted caps, had yard signs printed, and tirelessly made the case that governments should get along on the same raises folks on Social Security get. (What a concept.) At the next election, tax caps passed by a healthy margin.

Then, having accomplished his goal, he went out of the activism biz, disbanding the committee, and donating the yard signs to other counties considering caps. Having saved property owners what would amount to millions, he quietly went back to being a fantastic farmer.

- Pat was my assistant when I was editor of the paper in North Platte, Neb. Honest, feisty, hard-working, she was never afraid to tell me when she thought I was wrong. We had some enthusiastic disagreements, but one or the other would always put a Hershey Bar on the other's desk after we both cooled off, because we liked and respected each other.

That's not, however, what made her remarkable. Old, stray, abandoned, abused dogs had no better friend than Pat. She always had two or three foster dogs at her house, most of which she adopted. When she was sad at work I knew she'd had to have one of her legion of ailing dogs put to sleep.

She's been doing it for the 21 years I've known her, probably a lot longer. I kid her that her van always has nose prints on all the windows.

She deserves another Hershey Bar on her desk.

Take my advice, friends. Give the trolls and negative waves a rest. Dote for a moment this summer on some of your favorite folks.

It's downright therapeutic.

Dave Simpson can be reached at: DaveSimpson145@hotmail.com

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.