Low-key battle of wills

A call came in to my desk Tuesday afternoon. The caller identified himself and said he’d recently stumbled across an old blog post of mine about “how to know you’ve lived here a long time.” I allowed as how I vaguely remembered it.

“Here is my question: Are you a person who is SERIOUSLY interested in local history?” the man said.

Something about his intensity put me off, I guess. We had a halting back-and-forth about whether he’s ever read my work (he repeated that he had merely stumbled across my blog post and immediately picked up the phone to call), how he had once set linotype for the Progress Bulletin, how he didn’t like to waste his time.

“Are you a person who is SERIOUSLY interested in local history?” he repeated briskly. “It’s a yes or no question.”

Oh brother. He had a self-serious “do I have an age-old conspiracy for you!” air about him, perhaps a complaint worrying him for decades like a pebble in his shoe, and the odds that whatever he was selling I would buy were growing poorer by the second.

I told him I do from time to time write about local history, and to my mind, yes, I’m serious. Evidently this answer wasn’t sufficiently enthusiastic.

“You just missed out on a great story,” the man informed me with a mixture of pity, disappointment and triumph.

I sighed and said, “Whatever, man,” then hung up on him before he could hang up on me.

If it turns out he knew where all the bodies are buried, and it’s not Bellevue Cemetery, I guess I blew it.

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  • Carl Knecht

    You should have sent him over to Joe Blackstock, except I’m guessing you like Joe too much to do that to him.

  • davidallen909

    “Let me transfer you to a guy who’s SERIOUSLY interested in history.” Might’ve worked. But I do like Joe, and he had the day off besides.

  • Allan

    Did you know that Pomona used to be all orange trees? And it was the wisdom of Solomon that gave the city its name? Did you know that they lied about the water supply to get people to buy property there? Did you know that in 1885, near the neighboring Hill Valley, a blacksmith and his apprentice fell off Eastwood Ravine in a fiery train wreck? And yeah, I know who Murchison really was.

    Wait a minute…the guy said he set linotype for the prog? Could he be THE Fred Llewellyn (http://content.ci.pomona.ca.us/u?/PPortraits,888 ) who allegedly died in the LA Times Bldg bombing in 1910 but whose body was never found causing me to suspect that he actually gained superpowers possibly including immortality from the blast? They only found a pocket watch, David…it’s a clue! You may have spoken to the only person in the planet that knew what happened to the cool ocean breeze that Pomona advertised in its Board of Trade pamphlets.

    Then again, I’m not SERIOUSLY interested in local history either so meh.

    • davidallen909

      I understand. I’m interested, I’m even seriously interested, but I’m not SERIOUSLY interested.

  • Ronald Scott

    Maybe Hoffa is buried in the IE, well gee thanks Dave we will never know now huh???

    • davidallen909


  • Troubled by Nouns

    The best stories come from tipsters who question whether you deserve to hear their tips.

    • davidallen909

      We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!

  • Kathryn Dunn

    There certainly are a lot of cranks out there. And, of course, they know far better than you, Mr. Allen. 🙂

    • davidallen909

      I shoulda referred him to the Claremont Courier!

      • Kathryn Dunn

        We’ve got our share…ever received your column in the mail that had been copy edited by a retired English teacher? In red ink, no less. I have.

  • debi porada

    If this tipster is reading this post – David is very interested in history ! – In fact I bet David knows more about local history that I do and I have been around for a while and have been know to hang out at the museum, the model colony room and belong to the Ontario Heritage Society. So Mr. Tipster please call David back or you can email me your phone number dporada@verizon.net and I will call you. I really do want to know !!!!

    • davidallen909

      Nice of you to say all that, Deb, although I’d bet in turn that you know more than I do. Anyway, my other bet would be that whatever he had to say, it was of way more interest to him than it would be to me or anyone else. But, who knows?