CAWTHON'S CATHARHSIS - All That I Seek for My Free Lunch Is for You to Send Money


By Jack Cawthon

If you watch public television you may have observed the sometimes tedious "pledge break." By this method, public TV pays for much of its programming, otherwise my favorite show, Nova, might go missing. On the other hand, commercial TV has sponsors, and that is what pays for my second best, or maybe really, really best, Desperate Housewives. I haven't a clue as to who the sponsors are, but to prove my attention is not unfocused, I can describe the leading characters in minute detail.

So, if you dance you gotta pay the piper, as we often say in the hills. And that brings us to our destination after winding around a few hills and hollers: The Hur Herald doesn't have pledge breaks or sponsors, but you can consider it the excellent piper, always attuned. Money is required to keep it piping, and from what is implied by the little items that are casually inserted, but don't go on and on so as to interrupt the music-- you can even skip the pleas, should you not have a conscious-- things aren't very rosy this year as the readers dance around the kettle.

You might assume that I'm acting unselfishly and nobly by asking you to support a worthy cause such as the Herald. Let me assure you that is not the case. As in most of my good cause efforts, I am acting as selfishly as one can with a vested interest, especially one who usually votes Republican. The very reason that I want to see the Herald survive is not for its excellent news coverage that can even scoop print dailies, the renderings from history that you can't find anywhere else, and the wizened wisdom of Bob Weaver's observations, not to mention the outstanding columnists. No, it's much more selfish than that; I don't want to become an unemployed columnist ever again.

I have a tendency to go down with the ship. It happened with the West Virginia Hillbilly. Of course, Jim Comstock, its founder, did the unforgivable and unthinkable for the many, many close followers of his beacon publication: he died. And with Comstock out of picture, Hillbilly went into its own fatal coma from poor circulation and lack of health benefits.

Either through compassion for the dead and dying, or as repayment for a long ago good grade I gave him when I was a student teacher and he a student at old Calhoun High School, Bob Weaver called and invited me to become hooked up to the heart monitors of the Hur Herald. At the time, he didn't mention compensation, but I took the job on faith that talent like mine would be amply rewarded.

And it was. About two years ago, Dianne Weaver invited my wife and me to attend a delicious home-cooked meal she had prepared. I was able to meet some other, if not famous, then perhaps notorious, Herald characters, including Doctor Spock and Tony Russell. Russell, in addition to the wondrous meal, made the trip worthwhile, as I had often wondered, and that wonderment was rewarded by observation, that he does have a decided leaning to the left when he walks. I was also able to observe that Doctor Spock doesn't have big ears and doesn't appear the least bit spacey.

For the stuff I write, I felt amply paid. But that was two years ago, and even I, who try as I might to suppress greed, now have hunger pains. All that is needed for me to bargain for another free lunch is for you to send the money. Send it to the Herald and say that Jack sent you and it, and if enough of you do that, I'm certain I will have bargaining power for the next two years.

One other important item: I had never been to Hur before my rewarding trip, although back in the 60s when I had some degree of wanderlust before finding there is nothing worth seeing that can't be found in Preston County, while wandering lost in Michigan, I discovered Hell. Yes, there really is a Hur and a Hell. And often when I am told to go to the latter without the proper zip code through something I have written or even thought about, I tell those inviting folks that I have been there and back, and that the trip is entirely overrated. Not so with Hur. We missed an important turnoff to the Weaver house and from all descriptions I was able to convey to the Weavers, we may have reached the outskirts of Joker. If I am allowed to make a second trip, I am hopeful Bob will give me directions to Richardson, or some other exotic place in Sunny Cal. But, of course, this all hangs on the kindness of folks like you.

And lastly, I would like to mention the therapy provided by this writing. I was one of those unfortunates turned out of the mental institutions in the 80s who Ronald Reagan felt would be better off wandering the streets instead of pining away in an institutional setting, a major reason a great cut stone fortress stands empty in Weston today, much to the consternation of the city's residents.

I was not even provided with a reference to a halfway house, which may have been just as well, as the one I was leaving was more than half filled by a half vast array of administrators all seeking their own stability and failing. The only advice I was given was to not let the door hit me on my pass.

If it hadn't been for the therapy from writing, first through Hillbilly and now by the Herald, I might not be the well adjusted, fun loving and lovable person that I am today.

You certainly don't want to run the risk of putting someone like me back on the street, now do you? So, send the money to the Herald, say it's for Jack's mental health, and sit back with a smug, contented smile, because you know you have done good. And you have contributed to a good cause: mine. With your support, I know that it is just a matter of time until that next free lunch. All I need is your money.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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