Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co
Miss Bunker (I can’t remember her first name) was principal of East Side School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, circa 1945, when I was in Miss Melton’s (I can’t remember her first name) fourth grade class. Dean Larsen, who sat in front of me in Miss Melton’s class, wrote a smart aleck note and passed it back, unnoticed, to me. I wrote “Screw You!” on another piece of paper and passed it back. Miss Melton saw me pass the note back to Dean, and told me to bring the note up and put it on her desk. She went on with the class. I forgot about the incident until the next day when Miss Melton told me to go see Miss Bunker. In the Principal’s Office, Miss Bunker had the note in herhand.
Miss Bunker: “What does this mean?”
Me: (scrubbing my foot on the floor and looking down) “I don’t know.”
Miss Bunker: “What does this mean?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Miss Bunker: “I’m going to call your mother on the phone.”
Me: (in desperation) “It’s the title of a story.”
Miss Bunker: “A story?”
Me: “Yes. I’m writing a story about a boy who gets a tool box for Christmas.”
Miss Bunker: “I want to read that story. Bring it to my office by the end of the school day or I’m going to call your mother.”
That’s how I became a writer. From that time to the present I’ve written a lot of fiction. Some of it was written for newspapers and international new services. I’ve reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register, The Deseret News (Salt Lake City) The United Press International (from Buenos Aires), the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, The Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star, Universal Press Syndicate. Everyone knows that newspaper stories aren’t supposed to be fiction. But with tight deadlines, and because journalism is more art than science, a lot of creativity is involved in covering the news.
I’ve written news stories from the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean (including Cuba), the Sudan (Africa) Botswana (Africa) (the old) Yugoslavia, England, Hong Kong, and Letongaloosa (a fictional town in the U.S. Midwest). Many news stories, carrying my byline, were actually published by newspapers or by news services.
For the past dozen years I have been writing humorous fiction for the Kaw Valley Senior Monthly of Lawrence, Kansas. Do I notice a difference between the fiction writing I do now and the news writing I did as a journalist? Yes, I do. Fact checking is more rigorous on the Kaw Valley Senior Monthly than fact checking was during the days when I covered coups and earthquakes in Latin America.
-30- (that means “the end” in journalese)
Many of you may or may not know that before I was a humor writer, I had multiple careers. I was a hand model/ copy writer, a foreign correspondent, and a J-School professor. Now, I’m a humor writer. But before ALL of that, my FIRST job was being a potato picker in the potato fields of Idaho..
My Life As A Potato Picker
I had a whole youthful career in the potato fields of Idaho. From about age 8 a neighbor girl and I were “partners,” in picking potatoes. The school district shut down school for two weeks in (I lived in Idaho Falls) October and all the kids got their year’s spending money picking potatoes. The plows turned up the potatoes in rows and the pickers went up the rows with half-bushel wire baskets. Each partner picked a basket full and then the two poured the potatoes into a burlap potato sack (distributed along the rows by the tractor driver who was plowing the field). We were paid 6 cents a sack (between us that meant 3 cents each). We sometimes made $12 a day which was big money for 8-12-year-olds in those 1940-ish days Later in my youth I was a potato sack “bucket” who followed a slow moving horse-pulled or truck pulled trailer and hoisted potato sacks onto the flat bed of the back of the truck or trailer. The loaded trucks were driven to “potato cellars” l(long earth covered holding areas) where the potatoes stayed through the winter and well into the next summer and were sold by the truck load on the potato market. That’s more than you wanted to know about potato picking.