Over a 40-year-period, I wrote roughly 4,000 columns. My objective was unpredictability. Love me one day and hate me the next, but read me. In that respect, I was rather successful.
The mayor summoned me on one occasion after I had written a column revealing that the fire chief, who was on sick leave due to problems with his heart, was working as a state fire marshal.
The publisher, the editor and I went over to city hall to talk to the mayor. We sat around his desk and listen to him vent. A fine rage, it was from a man known for his short temper and good humor.
“You think you are a big fish in a small pond,” he growled, “but you are a small fish in a big pond!” Not being particularly creative when it came to crafting memorable phrases, I suspect he appropriated it.
Clearly, it was not Shakespearean, but its delivery rivaled King Lear’s rage against the storm. The mayor delivered it with his cigar clenched between his teeth.
And a fine set of teeth he had. He was a dentist by trade.
Of course, my publisher and editor took offense at the tirade, throwing off a few angry words of their own. But, compared to the mayor’s performance, they sounded like Walter Mitty.
On another occasion, the president of the country club came stomping into the office in high dudgeon. “Where is that S--of a B---h Harry Reynolds?” he shouted. The SOB, sitting at his desk typing a column, asked: “Are you talkin’ to me (Robert De Niro-like) to me?”
We went at it for a couple of minutes until the publisher, who was in his office, emerged. He took the country club’s big cheese into his office in an effort to lower the thermostat.
The president thought he was justified in using his, apparently, deep reservoir of profanity.
The issue at hand was $75,000. It seems the county board agreed, by an 8-4 vote, to have a tunnel dug under a road linking the front nine to the back nine of the club’s golf course - at taxpayers’ expense.
In the wake of that vote, I wrote a column attacking the action and included the phone numbers of the board. The next day, the board met and voted 12-0 against the proposal.
The folks at the country club were so angry that they refused a proposal to install stop signs so they could safely cross the road to the other half of the course. These days, they dodge and weave.
There was an incident in the early 1970s when I wrote a column critical of the state attorney’s effort to send every pothead in the county to prison. I learned later he was motivated by “Reefer Madness.”
He rang me up the following morning. “Reynolds, you are a snake in the grass!” he yelled.
Sometimes, even your friends can be critical. In any case, my wife still hates him, even though his current residence is a grave.
Harry Reynolds can be reached at reynoldsharry1943@gmail