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Third time charm for retiring newsman

Jim Dunn

This is my third crack at retirement. It just never seems to stick.

But this time, I’m really, really old. Like I tell the grandkids, I’m so old that I once had a dinosaur for a pet. I’m so old I remember the last time the glaciers melted. I’m so old that ... uh, what was I talking about?

You get the picture. I’m old.

So after 40 years of filtering words and images through my brain on their way to the printed page, I’m heading off into the sunset to be the consummate goof-off that God always intended me to be.

My basic philosophy of life is that if there’s one thing the world always needs, it’s more laughs.

Hopefully, we had a few together.

Like the column, around the time “Jaws” came out, about the giant, radioactive mutant salmon that was eating swimmers off the beach park in Oscoda, which caused the air base commander and the Oscoda police chief to steal a cruise missile and head out to sea to nuke the critter. We got an extra laugh over that one when a local citizen believed the story and called her congressman to complain about setting off a nuclear bomb that close to shore.

Then there was the Paul Bunyan meets Sasquatch story, where Paul falls in love with a humongous, hairy, legendary lady creature who’s wearing the biggest bowling shirt ever made.

You even stuck with me when I went all-out Northern Michigan rapper, rapping the life story of a local kid who wanted so bad to be urban-black cool, with his new deer rifle and rusty pickup, even though the closest he would ever come to “hos” were Ho-Ho snack cakes.

And although we never actually tried it, several readers called and wanted to take my suggestion of getting everyone in America to hold up bedsheets on a windy day, so we could make the planet turn faster, and therefore speed up time so when the Chinese people woke up the next morning, they’d be hours behind schedule, late for work, and never recover from the shame, allowing us to regain economic superiority. (I still think it would work.)

Some of my favorite mementos are memorialized in frames and hanging on my home office wall, like the thinly veiled death threat I received that was typed on official Ku Klux Klan stationary, complete with an embossed picture of a Klansman on a horse holding a burning cross.

I also framed and hung a photo I took many years ago of three members each of the Oscoda and AuSable township government, sitting in a big voyager canoe in Van Etten Lake. With each township’s people facing away from each other and paddling in opposite directions in the same canoe, it makes a timeless statement about the past, current and future state of local politics.

Another wall-hanger is the gracious thank-you note with a hand-drawn cartooned envelope I got in the mail from Mort Denell, an extremely talented local artist whom I wrote about some time ago detailing his service in World War II and how he had chronicled it in cartoon art.

These are just a few of the countless memories of a career in local news that will keep me writing more books in my retirement years ahead.

And as the retirement card I got from a well-wishing loyal reader last week said, “Retiring? At least it’s better than being put to sleep!”

She’s right. Now, if I can just convince my wife.

Jim Dunn is the retiring publisher of the Oscoda Press and Tawas Herald.