Life in the big-city newspaper world is a non-stop, busy – sometimes hectic – whirlwind of frantic activity.
The constant clanging of teletype machines, copy boys scurrying about, being yelled at by crusty copy editors enveloped in blue-gray clouds of cigarette smoke.
Oh, sorry – wrong decade. Still though, we’re pretty danged busy.
So if I am a bit short when I answer the phone, I hope you will forgive me. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I yanked up the receiver and barked “News, Timmons,” a bit too quickly. I didn’t have to feel bad for long though.
“Can y’all hold on for a minute while I fetch his Royal Kingly Highness Sultan Ralph Cackalacky. He wants to talk to you personal to personal like to give you a real important message that could be highly profitable for you.”
The twang gave it away – but throw in y’all, Royal Kingly Highness Sultan Ralph Cackalacky and personal to personal and it could only be one person . . . Bubba Castiron.
“What can I do for you Bubba?”
“Damn, Timmons. How’d you know it was me?”
“Lucky guess. I’m kind of busy. What do you need?”
“Well ain’t you impotent,” Bubba shot back. “All high and mighty and not havin’ time to talk to an old buddy.”
Sigh. How can I feel bad on one hand, and at the same time want to explain the word he wants is important . . . I hope.
“I’m sorry Bubba,” I said. “We just really are busy. But you know what? You’re absolutely right. We should always make time for friends. How are you doing today?”
“Ha!” Bubba cackled. “You are the most gullible person I know Timmons! Hell, you know me. I don’t care. I just was calling because me and the boys were talking about how the weather’s finally getting better and pretty soon we’re going to go mushroom hunting and that got me to thinking . . . did I ever tell you about my great-great-grandpappy’s mule that could tell the weather with 100 per cent accuracy?”
I could feel a pounding starting right behind my right eye.
“One day my great-great-grandpappy is walking through the woods and he come upon our great president from the Hoosier state, Mr. Benjamin Harrison hisself. Well sir, President Harrison was toting a line and a pole and so was my great-great-grandpappy. So the Prez asked him if the fish was biting.
“My great-great-grandpappy told him that they wuz, but he’d do well to head back to his big, ol mansion in Indianapolis because the sky was fixing to let go!”
I had no idea where this was going. I stared at my growing to-do list.
“Ol Ben kind of drew hisself up, all proud and haughty like, and said that the state of Indiana had its very own weather forecaster and that man was educated and real smart like. But that wasn’t all. He said they had a national meter-something-or-other and he too was real smart-like. So ol’ Ben told my great-great-grandpappy that he was just wrong and passed on by.”
“Well, the president and his bunch hadn’t even gotten all the way down the path and the cloudburst that hit was something to behold. It musta rained an inch an hour, and the thunder and lightning, boy was it a booming!”
I hate to admit it, but I was starting to wonder what was coming next. I thought I was pretty well versed on my Indiana history, but did I miss a big event that involved President Harrison?
“Well Ol Ben was ticked off! He was madder than a wet hen, and well, more wet, so he fired his weather forecaster from the state and the national meter-something-or-other that very afternoon. Then he had one of his aides find my great-great-grandpappy and offered him a job.”
“So what did you great-gr . . . your ancestor do?” I asked.
“Well, great-great-grandpappy was an honest man and he told the Prez that he could not take credit for knowing it was going to rain. He told him about ol’ Bessie, his donkey. Whenever she twitched her right ear a lot, it meant it was going to rain. And that day, ol’ Bessie was twitching both ears like crazy.”
“Well for goodness sakes, what did President Harrison do?”
“Why he hired ol’ Bessie, of course,” Bubba said. “And that was how hiring dumb asses to go to work in the government started . . . and it has continued to this very day!”
The cackle was loud and sharp.
“That’s the oldest one in the book, Timmons! You really are the most gullible guy I know!” The cackling only stopped when he hung up.
The throbbing spread to my left eye.

Tim Timmons is the chief executive officer of Sagamore News Media, the company that owns The Noblesville Times. He is a proud Noblesville High School graduate and can be contacted at