What’s always made me a newspaper guy is the range of stories any given news cycle provides. Despite those who prescribe to the oxymoronic notion that every day is just the same old news, the fact is there is little that’s predictable about what comprises a week’s worth of stories in my local paper. They range from the profoundly sad to the downright burlesque.As far as those stories that touch us all on a deep level, the news can get no sadder, especially for those with kids, than a story of a 17-year-old girl, in this case, Brianna Coon, of nearby Rockford, driving unfamiliar country roads in Putnam County and mistaking the contour of county Road P in pitch-black conditions and plunging into a pond on the last night of her life.Every parent I’ve ever known has felt the apprehensions of raising a child when that child becomes a teen and begins to drive.I remember when my Shannon and Katie years ago first began to drive. Every time they grabbed the keys and started for the back door, especially at night, my heart skipped some beats. And, despite the barrage of “Where are you going?” and “Who are you going with?’ and “What time will you be home?” queries, I worried.And, even though my little ones are now grown into 30-something women, I still worry about them and pray daily for their continued safety. As has been said about fathers and daughters, “A son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life.” So, my first thoughts when I read of Brianna’s frantic 911 call and her final moments were of her father’s unfathomable grief, which, of course, is not to minimize the intensity of the anguish felt by the rest of her family and her friends. It’s just that I’m used to seeing the world through a father’s eyes.Of course, I’ve also, as no doubt, many of you have, followed the stories of the recent discovery of human bones on South Elizabeth Street in a former crawl space, bones believed to be those of Nicholle Coppler, and I can only sympathize with those who loved her and the sorrows they have borne. What mystifies me is, during the original searching of the house where authorities knew the missing 14-year-old had been, why evidence of the horrific crime wasn’t discovered.Another item I read, for me, was far removed from such tragedies and almost burlesque in nature, although I’m sure, to those involved, their apprehension and the penalties they face are anything but a laughing matter. What I immediately thought of when I read of the arrest of four individuals who were part of a hog-stealing ring was this: While it is far more common for art to imitate life, there are times when the converse is true.The reason I say this is the hog-stealing incident instantly brought an episode to mind of one of my favorite all-time sitcoms, one which I think will live forever through reruns, “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960 through 1968.If you’re a fan, as several of my pals like Greg Stolly, Brice Brenneman and Dave Busick are, you might recall the episode “The Cow Thief,” which originally aired exactly 50 years ago back in ’62. In the episode, Mayor Stoner calls in an investigator from the state capital to help solve a string of cow thefts. The mayor had little confidence that our heroes, Andy and Barney, could crack a case of livestock larceny.While everyone seems to be so impressed with the so-called expert’s methods, Andy remains skeptical and vigilant, while the expert deduces through making plaster of Paris molds of footprints that there are three thieves, each with distinct physical differences.As the mayor and Barney are enraptured by all of the expert’s investigative science, Andy keeps his eye on Luke Jensen, a known thief recently returned to Mayberry. In a case of missing the obvious for the expert, Barney and Mayor Stoner, Andy also takes note of the fact that no prints of the stolen cows were at the crime scene.In the show’s climactic moments, it’s Andy who conducts his own stakeout and discovers the truth, that the thefts were indeed perpetrated by Luke and covered up by his putting shoes on yet another purloined cow before attempting to lead it away.Perhaps the modern-day crooks would’ve had a better shot at a more perfect crime by slipping some little shoes on the hogs. After all, what are the odds any of the law enforcement types would have been able to demonstrate the mental acuity of North Carolina’s sharpest sheriff?From the heart-rending to the criminally comical, a week’s worth of your local news cycle really provides a pretty broad look at life as it comes at us, and, for me, the only thing that is predictable about each day’s news is that the paper skids across my driveway each morning by 5.
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.