Where have all the vegetables gone?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

There’s been a lot of reminiscing around our office this week. We’ve been working on a special section for today’s Progress edition that contains wild, wacky and wonderful stories from the newspaper’s archives.

And there are plenty of them.

We’ve had alien sightings, strange crimes and dumb criminals, animal adventures and lots of unique vegetables, including a peach that looks like a duck.

It was lots of fun looking back through these old issues and it convinced me of one main thing &045; life at a newspaper was a lot more fun back then.

Instead of taxes and economic development, the newspaper covered a woman who complained because the three channels on her television offered too much variety for her to select from. Instead of educational woes and contract disputes, the paper did a story on two couples who lost their Iron Bowl tickets and published a photo of a pair of people soaking their feet in a washtub to escape a hot summer day.

The newspaper did publish a crime report, but you didn’t see it littered with methamphetamines and marijuana as you do today. Instead, there were moonshine stills discovered, cows rustled and, in something I’m still trying to figure out, a naked man flashing passing trains in Falkville.

The person describing the flasher said he was about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, between 16-20 and had a good tan. I guess the flashee would know that kind of thing.

There were lots of stories that contained the line &uot;So-and-So stopped by the Enquirer office,&uot; or &uot;Mrs. So-And-So called the Enquirer office to tell us about …&uot;

Usually, these stories involved some oddity, such as a misshapen vegetable, giant plant or strange animals. We don’t get a lot of those anymore. Every once and a while, someone will stop by the office with a potato chip that looks like Richard Nixon (that’s true by the way), but it’s rare.

It’s as if all strange vegetables suddenly stopped growing sometime in the mid 1970s.

I miss them.

But maybe that’s just a sign of the times. It’s obvious that newspaper times have changed. We’re computerized, digitized and far too sophisticated to cover things such as lost dogs who find their way home after being caught in a steel trap for a month.

But I think this change is part of life in general. Few people farm anymore, crime is becoming commonplace and no one has time to call the newspaper office to report they saw a strange light streaking across the sky.

But somewhere, perhaps this spring, will grow a squash shaped like bird or a record-sized sunflower. I just hope someone shares the fun with us.

Leada DeVaney is the publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is a former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter