By Jack Cawthon 2017

I was sitting once again in the Over Easy Inn in Big Puf, enjoying my alternate reality from the Morgantown mess. Homer Bob, proprietor, had just served me the dry Methodist special, a cup of black coffee, and we were discussing writing.

Homer Bob, an aspiring writer, had never learned to read so as to keep himself pure from contamination, and most of all, stealing from other writers, while I had read lots and stolen more but, nevertheless, now found myself in Big Puf deeply contaminated.

I became rather talkative, as coffee will sometimes bring on, and had been telling Homer Bob of my life as a sometimes writer. After he had heard my story, which went on much further than the profit from a cup of coffee should hold attention, he shook his head and said he figured he was ahead not reading.

I had got around to telling him how I had been befriended in old age by the Hur Herald and the kindness of the Weavers who had listed me as a columnist and even that would soon come to an end if the Herald didn't raise enough money to continue its message. Sometime back Bob Weaver had announced pulling the plug and I had written a farewell column amidst tears saying goodbye.

But, lo, as it says in the Good Book, enough kind people kicked in enough money to pay expenses for a spell. Weaver was able to discontinue the hectic life of on the spot reporting and bring back some reruns from the archives and continue covering some breaking news. Now, it was all ending again...unless...unless...

Hester Pratlow has just staggered into the Over Easy and saw my tears falling and diluting my coffee. Hester had been known to take a nip and a nap under the Big Puf Bridge from time to time, but when he heard Homer Bob explain my sad predicament he reached into a hip pocket and pulled out two crumpled dollar bills, explaining he had panhandled that much for a nip, but he would just do the nap without it.

Homer Bob was struck with an idea. He found an old spittoon from the early days of the Over Easy, put it up on the bar, but as he couldn't write, asked Hester to pen "Give to the Hur Herald and save Big Puf."

I though this a mighty fine gesture. Suddenly there was a roar outside and there among her followers on their scooter chairs was Granny Pratlow and her Gray Bandoleers. When I came out to greet her, she threw her arms around me and for a moment I thought my reputation as a clean-living coffee drinker might be at stake. In public!

To make a long story short, as we are told to do in journalism, Granny learned of my plight and that of the Herald. No problem, Sonny, she smiled. "Hey, gang, know all them there pills the doctors prescribe from a chart the drug companies provide for a people of a certain age. Got some leftovers?" There was a wild cheer of affirmative. "Why, Lillie Mae gets15 or so, ain't that right Lillie Mae?" When there was no reply, Granny yelled for someone to wake Lillie Mae up before she fell from her scooter chair.

Granny went on to explain she could put those pills on the after market and raise enough money to buy the Herald new computers and even lease a satellite for high speed internet. I thanked her, but declined as the drug culture was not the way out for the Herald--maybe for the readers of my stuff...but, no...

In the meantime, Sister Hannah had wandered by and heard the sad story. She could help, she said. Lester T. Archabald IV, former coal baron, had been awfully nice to her, and since the coal business was beginning to come back, she thought she might raise a little money, and she winked. Again, I declined. Although I had made some money in pretty much a similar profession called government service, but with some people putting a word play on "service," I felt a professional appreciation, but declined again, feeling we might have better luck with the religious right.

Well, with all the good folks of Big Puf gathered around, I scooped up the money from the spittoon that Homer Bob had provided and found several bills and coins. With a hearty cheer and good luck expressed after me I departed for a return trip to Morgantown with its get abouts and round abouts.

When I counted the money there was $29.95. Considering the poverty and all the hardships in Big Puf, the folks had expressed deep appreciation for me keeping them in the mainstream with my reports in the Herald. No other news source, even fake news, had done that ever for the community.

As to fund raising, I have hopes that after this story of how a small community hopes to see the Herald continue, others will open up their hearts and wallets and be generous enough to send donations. The Weavers deserve it after all the years of hard work and accomplishments of providing great news coverage and with Norma's great research of the past providing archives that will continue to fill a void that would otherwise have never seen the light of day.

All this if the Herald is to continue. I will miss it, others will miss it, as it is a morning ritual for me and a readership that still remains in the thousands, but, unfortunately, many who have regarded it only as a free click.

I know my good friends in Big Puff are perfectly willing to do their part, but I'm not sure that should be the proper way of doing. Of course, there are the Chinese...

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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