. . . Said The Newspaper
Once one gets into politics - no matter how small a post - the sky's the limit it is said. Look at our new president's rise to power!
In mid 1962 I began MY rise to power. It didn't take long to fizzle and die.
My rise to power began in Adams, Massachusetts, where I was the bureau manager for the North Adams Transcript. (You better get used to reading stories from my newspaper days).
A bunch of just-made friends, tired of an old and longtime member of the town's Planning Board, (just as today hordes are tired of old and long-serving congressmen) conned me into becoming a write-in candidate for the Planning Board.
They pulled that off by presenting me at a very busy time with a falsely-described "petition" which I signed without reading. They filed the "petition" with the town clerk. It was really a request for my name to be placed on the election ballot.
Don't stop reading yet, the fun is coming up. When the votes were in I was elected to the Planning Board by 23 votes over the incumbent. As a reporter and a board member I immediately felt I was in conflict of interest but the paper's publisher did not feel that way -until early Autum when all getout broke loose.
There was a old and cantankerous Selectman in the town, a lovable Polish guy named Fred. He demanded of reporters that every word he said at meetings be printed. I got into hot water early with him by not following the rule.
One night the Board of Selemen and the Planning Board were having a joint meeting and voted mid-way to go into executive session. Old Fred found a wonderful way to get at me for breaking the rule, trimuphantly exclaiming "he can't go into the meeting 'cause he's a newsman and he's not very good 'cause he won't print everything I say."
I was the Planning Board's recording secretary and the other members declared I had to be there to record the board's minutes. Fred said no, that "he'll get all the news and Billy (a rival reporter) won't get any." Somehow Fred got me banned.
Right after the meeting from which I was barred along with Billy, Fred found still another way to stab me in the back. He fed Billy everything that happened in the executive session. The next morning on the front page of The Springfield Union, a headline blared out "Board Member Barred From Executive Session." And Billy did have all the news.
A second story in that paper, about a Selelctmen's meeting, the following week , bore the headline"Reporter Depicted As Fourth Selectman" and a "drop" headline declared "Newsman, Caught Passing Note, Is Said Power Behind Freshman Selectman."
I felt elated when I saw the paper. A POWER, no less!. I was on my way! That story and headline came about when Fred jumped to his feet in rage when he saw me hand something to a new selectman. It was a clipping of the previous board meeting story pasted a a sheet of white paper.
Fred and another Selectman claimed it was a note telling the new man how to vote on an upcoming street project. The other Selectman, named Lauio, shouted "this man is acting like a fourth selectman."
Immediately Fred and Lauio made and passed a motion moving the reporters, me, Billy and Barry, a TV reporter, behind a line they chalked on the floor. That made a fine story for Billy, resulting in the "Fourth Selectman" headline.
Alhough I was just in the first year of a five -year board term, I resigned later in the year when my boss thought maybe I'd not get in hot water again if I was just a reporter. Those few months on the planning board proved to be an adventure.
I liked old Fred. He was a typical farmer, growing all sorts of stuff in his garden and always giving away everything he grew to people he thought needed food.
He loved to make horseradish and had a special recipe. Ya'll stand by for a fiery horseradish yarn somewhere down the line.
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