Monday, September 12, 2011

Jump the Fence

Berlin Wall 1975 Checkpoint Charlie
photo courtesy of Jerry Pratt


A few days after the August meeting of our life story writing group, Jerry, who lives in Independence, Missouri, called with news.  His story about the anniversary of the Berlin Wall going up had been published. His experience reminded me of an anecdote told by the instructor of a feature story writing class. 

 It seems an editor sent a reporter to get an interview with a jockey after a race. When the editor asked why the reporter had returned without the interview, the reporter said he couldn't reach the jockey because there was a fence in the way. To which the editor demanded, "Why didn't you jump the fence?"

Jerry definitely jumped the fence to get his story published. I asked Jerry to tell us how he did it.

I wrote the article to have something for our writing group meeting. It wasn't until I got started that I realized that this was a milestone anniversary of the event.  I thought about getting it into the paper, but by Thursday it was too late for The Examiner on Saturday.

Over the weekend I did some editing and touching up to round it up and to make a point. I took it to The Examiner on Wednesday morning. Just before the noon deadline, I spoke with an editor. I prefer meeting face-to-face, and I didn't trust using e-mail where it might sit in a pile of a lot of other stuff, until someone might "get 'round tuit", or get deleted. I expressed some disbelief that the paper would overlook such a major historical event, and asked if it could be printed as a feature on Saturday. It wasn't an editorial or letter-to-the-editor, or something to be reduced to a few paragraphs.

The first thing Saturday morning I ran out to pick up the paper. I didn't find anything in the front section. There was a voice-mail message waiting for me, when we got home Saturday night. Some gentleman raved in appreciation concerning the article. He cut the article and was saving it. Yahoo!

After digging the papert out of the trash, I found the article. I was amazed at its size, about three columns! They made a four-column headline and retitled it  Disbelief on the Anniversary of the Berlin Wall Going Up,

Other than a very few internal edits, it printed as written. Thank you, Examiner!

Jerry, who is a couple of years older than I am, likes to tell people I was his high school English teacher. And he is right. I taught high school English at Jerry's high school, East High, in Des Moines, Iowa. We just weren't there at the same time. By the time I was there, Jerry was in the Air Force, stationed in Minot, North Dakota. Still, I am as happy for Jerry as if he were my high school student. 

Of course, you don't want to go knocking on an editor's door every time you write something, but on certain special occasions, it pays off. Next week we'll talk about some more things Jerry did right.


Disbelief.  A recent night Young Advisor and I watched Project Runway TV. One of our favorite contestants created a garment so weird it left us in open-mouthed disbelief. East coast residents watched torrents of water rush through their cities. News reports told of huge waste in the war in Afghanistan.

A favorite phrase of a friend's toddler is, "I can't beyeeve."  What has caused you to stop in disbelief?

Photo courtesy of

CHOCOLATE INKWELL - Can't finish this blog post. Have to rush away to make today's recipe. It sounds so good. Okay. I'll share. Here's the recipe. It is from my new favorite website: I love Eagle Brand Condensed Milk. It makes me feel so good, I'm pretty sure it's a health food.

Chocolate Coconut Balls

Yield: 4 dozen balls

1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 (14 oz.) package flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup (6 oz.) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups (18 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening

STIR together sweetened condensed milk, coconut, pecans, bread crumbs and mini chocolate chips; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

SHAPE mixture with lightly greased hands into 1-inch balls. (Mixture will be moist.) Place on wax paper. Cover with additional wax paper; let stand 8 hours.

MELT chocolate chips and shortening in large saucepan. Spoon chocolate mixture evenly over coconut balls covering top and sides completely and allowing excess to drip. Place on wax paper; chill until firm.

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