Our Towns

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So what’s happening in Our Towns this week? A better question would be, what ISN’T happening in Our Towns this week! No, sorry, that would actually be a worse question.

You’ve seen his face, but you probably never knew his name. LaGrese Bingham is the sprightly senior citizen who has spent every day for the past 30 years peering under the ladies’ fitting room doors at ZCMI.

He’s a fixture in the community, and we’re sorry to announce today will be his last day “on the job,” so to speak. Do you know, in all those 30 years, he’s never missed a day? “I enjoy looking at the ladies’ underthings too much,” said the cute old fellow, who hails from Lamanville.

Have a great retirement, LaGrese! Every time we feel creepy, we’ll think of you!

Got a phone call the other day from SinDee Jeppesen, who told me the unusual spelling of her first name was the result of her mother’s learning disability. Anyway, she was calling to tell me that her aunt, Maverglenn Baird of Beaver Fork, is turning 100 years old today. Congratulations, Aunt Maverglenn!

Aunt Maverglenn sounds like a remarkable woman. She was born and raised in a ditch in Muleton, and never even learned to drive — according to her niece, Maverglenn “didn’t trust machines, seein’ as how they have the devil in ’em.” A faithful churchgoer, Maverglenn was always the hit of the ward socials with her famous Chocolate Liver Pie.

Alas, age has taken its toll on Aunt Maverglenn. She stopped wearing clothes in 1962, and hasn’t been able to breathe on her own since the late ’70s. Clinically, this feisty old gal may have died decades ago, but you wouldn’t know it from seeing her out digging in the garden every morning! Let’s hear it for our beloved senior citizens!

Are you with me, that the past tense of “sneeze” should be “snoze”? That would sure be a hoot, wouldn’t it? What a confusing language we speak! No wonder all those foreigners refuse to learn it!

If you want a real tear-jerker, find yourself a copy of LyniMar Peterson’s “Pioneers to Glory Volume 1: Why Won’t My Feet Stop Bleeding?” Peterson is a local author, from right here in Orvo, and this is the first part in a series of historical novels in which a fictitious family — the Smiths — joins the real-life Mormon pioneers of 1847.

In the first book, Bob Smith and his family meet none other than Brigham Young! And I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that by the end of the book, several of Bob Smith’s unmarried daughters are a little less unmarried, if you know what I mean! By which I mean, Brigham Young marries them. I can’t wait for volume 2, which LyniMar tells me will be called, “This is the Place … for Love.”

Finally, a tip of the ol’ Our Towns hat to little McKay Spencer Rowley, who has earned his Eagle Scout award at the early age of 4! His proud momma, LaVerDelLynTee Rowley, calls McKay “a scouting prodigy,” and claims he was already tying knots when he came shooting out of the womb like an illegally weighted pinewood-derby car.

“I didn’t force him into it at all,” Mrs. Rowley said. “It was his idea to get all 413 merit badges before he started kindergarten.” Then she added: “McKay, Momma needs a Fresca.”

Congrats to the Rowleys for their accomplishment! Between them and the chemicals in the water, we’re sure we never want to leave Our Towns!

This column was an absolute delight to write, because it was therapeutic. First, a little (that is, a lot of) background.

In the fall of 2000, the Daily Herald debuted a new section called Our Towns. The purpose of this section was to feature all the "news" that doesn't normally make it into the newspaper because, frankly, it's not newsworthy -- but it's stuff people like to read. Things like people who turn 100, or who grow 30-pound pumpkins, or who have been crossing guards for 20 years, or whatever. It's kids selling the most Girl Scout cookies and teens winning beauty pageants, that kind of stuff. It's the stories you'd see in a small-town weekly newspaper. It's a chance to put a lot of people's names in the paper -- and to that end, everyone's name appeared in bold type the first time it was used. It was a reader-oriented section.

Editor of the section was Sharon Gholdston (whom I have mentioned before), and she was a powerhouse. She assembled an army of correspondents -- one in each of the communities the Herald serviced -- to write the stories for $10 apiece. People were invited to send in "news" tips, too, and the result was that the section soon expanded from weekly to twice-weekly.

About a week before I wrote this, Sharon was out sick and I was called upon to put the Our Towns section together for her. It was then that I realized how dreadful some of the writing was. Remember, it was being done by regular townsfolk, and they were writing about utterly un-newsworthy subjects. Reading and editing these stories was sheer hell for me. I mean, I'm no hard-news journalist, but an article about the growing number of unlicensed dogs in Eagle Mountain is grotesque even to a fluff writer like myself.

This column, then, came as a result of that torment. It's a parody of the column Sharon wrote for her Wednesday section that served as a round-up of the week's interesting tidbits. The writing style I've employed is not exactly a spoof of her style, but of the sort of things she talked about and the folksy way in which she presented them.

Fittingly, this was my first Wednesday column, after "Snide Remarks" went to twice-weekly. Which meant people could read this on A-2, then look elsewhere in the paper to see what I was parodying.

(The Our Towns section was the first thing to go when a new managing editor arrived in August 2002, by the way. It wasn't because he was an old-school journalist with no patience for such frivolity; it was because he hated his predecessor and wanted to do everything differently from the way he'd done it.)

"McKay, Momma needs a Fresca" is a classic bit of lore from my swell group of friends. I believe its origin was at a Memorial Day barbecue in 2000, where a number of us were playing volleyball while others sat on the grass and watched. My friend Chanel was sitting in absolutely the most comfortable position possible, much like a lounging Mormon mom would be at the ward picnic. I believe she even had her soda-holding arm propped up to minimize effort in getting the beverage to her mouth. Someone pointed all of this out to her, and so to cement her character of Generic Mormon Mom, Chanel sent an imaginary child off on an errand, saying, "McKay, Momma needs a Fresca." It didn't exactly fit in the column, but it ALMOST did, and I couldn't think of another time I'd ever get to use it, so I threw it in.

A day or two after this was published, a clerk at one of the local LDS bookstores called me to see if "Pioneers to Glory Volume 1: Why Won't My Feet Stop Bleeding?" was a real book. She didn't think it was, but she had a customer asking for it, so she said she'd check. I was delighted beyond all measure that some old lady had read the column full of absurd satirical ideas and had thought there was actually a book about pioneers called "Why Won't My Feet Stop Bleeding?"

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