Sunday, February 1, 2009

Randy Was a Fun Guy . . .

. . . Do That Again !

Some wet sludge, an unsuspecting reporter and a cameraman who missed the picture. That's makes up one of the funny stories for this blog provided some 35 years ago with a renowned New England photographer.

The cast of characters in this very true and very stinky yarn includes Old Newsie, a deceased cameraman named Randy, and officials in a Massachusetts town where I was employed.

That town had completed construction of a new wastewater treatment plant which was operating successfully but with one hitch. The architects of the plant had forgotten to provide for the end product of the plant, the sludge that remained after MOST of the water was gone.

However, a quick solution was found - a deep land depression near the sewage plant ,land which was unusable but which might be someday turned into a park or a playing field. The immediate plan was to dry the stuff and then allow area farmers to truck it away again for use as fertilizer on their hay fields.

Wet residue - sludge - was trucked to the site and dumped. The theory was that the sun would work its magic and dry the sludge. Eventually the sun, mixed with loads of sand did the job.

But here's where the fun comes in. On the first day of the sludge dumping, the site was "dedicated" in front of a horde of officials and members of the press. Randy and I were two of the latter group.

The wastewater plant superintendent was explaining the planned use while Randy was snapping a few photos. Curious me did a dumb thing. Not even thinking of the fact the dump trucks had just brought in WET sludge, this blogger took a few steps up a pile of the stuff .

One official yelled "don't go up there, you'll sink" but before the word "sink" came out, I was in the STINK up to my hips. Randy and others reached for me and pulled on my arms trying to get me out of the goo. Didn't work.

But help was at hand as Randy, equipped with a lot of emergency gear in his Jeep, quickly got a heavy rope and tossed one end to me. I tied it around my waist ad held onto it as Randy

tied the other end to the rear of his Jeep.

Moving slowly the Jeep pulled me out of the morass as the gathered officials and onlookers howled with glee. Randy untied the rope from my waist and then in true photographer's language exclaimed @$#@^% then "hell, I didn't get a picture of that,' do it again."

Then it was time to go back to the office but the sh--- ah, the effluent was drying on my clothes and the essence was not that of Chanel No. 5. Says Randy "I can't take you back to the office smelling like that."

"So take me to my house and I'll get changed," I replied and Randy countered "Oh hell, you can''t ride in my Jeep that way, you'll mess everything up and it'll smell for months."

With a quick reach I grabbed his keys from the ignition and faked a heave into the sludge pile saying" if I can't ride in your Jeep, nobody can."

When we reached my nearby home, he tried to extort a complete wash job for the Jeep but no soap, I didn't want to wash that stuff off in MY yard.

Later when one of my playful daughters, yeah, Yarntangler, heard the story, she found and framed an advertisement from a popular fragrance of the time , went to the newspaper office and stood it on my desk. (It remained there quite a long time.)

- 30 -

Old Newsie


  1. Yep Oldnewsie you stank! You did that again when you decided a story and a skunk should be used in the same sentence.
    Great Blog!

  2. Great way to start the day. . .with a good laugh. Thanks.

  3. That may be the only picture Randy ever missed. Just goes to show you that friendship came first. But If I know Randy he's still both regretting the missed shot and laughing over the absurdity!