In 1995 I moved from California back to Texas to become the managing editor of theBoerne Star, a twice-weekly newspaper for a town of about 6,000. Boerne–now literally a suburb of San Antonio to the northwest up I-10–was still relatively small at the time and had deep roots in a farming/ranching lifestyle, along with a strong identity centered around Germans, which originally settled the area in the mid 1800s.
I was fresh out of San Francisco, and as usual liked to stir things up. I decided to write a weekly column–probably as a vent to spew out weirdness in a small town–and decided to call it “Stuck U,” in reference to my writing on a 1935 Underwood typewriter, which had a “U” key that stuck on each stroke. My publisher, who was more in tune to the sensibilities of his readers and advertisers, nixed that title. But he gave the go ahead to “Stuck Key.” The columns were a mix of local reporting, remembrances of my experiences traveling, and thoughts on my life as a reporter. I’ll dig up the post on what this references, but here’s a pretty typical reaction I got.
The older of the two old men next door dumped a can of beans on the lawn. It was just one of many dishes fed to four or five cats that hung around their house and lounged the day away sunning on their fuchsia wooden porch or yellow stone walkway. The men who lived there were strange. One was in his fifties, the son, the other in his seventies, the father. Both were wid¬owed, both clothed eternally in plain white T-shirts that hugged their …
“How come you don’t take a lot of this stuff home,” I ask Frank Uhr. “I mean, the good stuff.” Frank’s the guy that works on Wednesdays at the Spanish Pass dump—really just a little trash drop-off run by the county.
“Oh I’m tempted to, sometimes,” he says. “A lot of this stuff is useful, still in good shape.” “But only if you have use for it.”
A couple years and a few killed animals later, I ended up as the managing editor of the newspaper in Boerne, Texas, a little town founded in the late 1800s by German immigrants, but well on its way to being just another San Antonio suburb. Like many of my other rural-oriented newspaper positions, I spent much of my time cruising through the countryside on narrow roads blaring music and every now and again, catching the eyes of cattle…