Funny how stories will just pop into your head. I was sitting here, watching a show on Netflix. Michelle is asleep, Manchild is back at home with his mom, and after one helluva busy Sunday (yeah “day of rest” my ass!) this was my first time to sit.
I was watching a western when the voice of The Mudsucker (my buddy Scott) saying “LET’S GO!!” Popped into my head. I will tell you, I almost stood up and headed for the door!
The day he said it in real life was in late winter or early spring of 1986. He and I were hanging out in our apartment at Washington State University, I am sure we were studying for a test or writing that paper that was due. (OK, Maybe we were having a beer, but that’s not important now…) Whatever we were doing, we suddenly heard this huge boom!
I remember stopping dead and looking at each other and then we ran to the deck It was already dark, and as we looked toward town, we saw flames shooting into the sky. Scott didn’t hesitate. “LET’S GO!!!” And he headed for the door.
OK, for the record I didn’t have a clue where we were going. We weren’t fire fighters, and my step dad always called people who ran to fires or cops at a house “Porch Monkeys.” They annoyed the hell out of them. But, Scott was one of my first friends at WSU and a fellow member of the Strohs Bros and Fros. He says “let’s go” that forcefully and I am at the door before he is!
And race we did! He had an old Ford Galaxy, 8 cylinders and full of power. He pealed out of the parking lot, and headed down the road. However, we were heading to campus not the fire. “Where the hell are we going?” “Gotta get to the studio and get a camera! This is big news!” he replied.
Then it hit me, Scott was a communications major. And this semester, he was on the campus news station Cable 8 News! (We used to make fun of him and call him Les Nesman from WKRP). That night there was no joking. We were going to cover the story of whatever the hell was burning.
We got to the Comm building in record time and we ran inside. He grabbed the camera, and started handing me stuff to carry. To this day I have no idea what it all was, except the police scanner and the camera’s huge heavy battery box. Remember this was the 80s. The camera was HUGE, and the batter to run it was bigger than a messenger bag.
He plugged the camera into the battery and said, “Stay right with me!” And we ran back to the car and headed into town!
When we got there, we found a grain silo had exploded. Flames were still shooting into the air, fire fighters everywhere, police tape and barricades, it was nuts. Scott led us right past the cops and barricades and we were just behind the trucks filming the fire.
I was listening to the scanner, keeping the cord from getting tangled, while Scott was talking into the mike and filming. We weren’t there long when a firefighter asked us “What the HELL are you doing here??” I chimed in quickly, “This is where they said we could film!” (Notice at no point did I say we were given permission to take the camera, or be AT the fire let alone on THAT side of the police tape but it seemed like the right thing to say at the time)
He was NOT looking like he was going to believe me, but then I threw a curve. “I just heard on the scanner y’all are worried about hazardous chemicals in there. Any idea what they are?” Scott just looked at me, but this time it was the truth I had heard it! The fire fighter just moved us back 15 feet and said “Stay here and NO there are no hazardous things inside!” and moved on.
We filmed until they had it under control and then headed out. Scott dropped me at home and went in to edit tape (I woulda just been in the way.) He got it done, and not only did it appear on Cable 8 news, it was picked up state-wide and he got credit as the photographer.
I gotta tell you, that was one of the single most exciting days of my college life. I gave some serious thought in the days afterwards of changing my major. This seemed SO much more fun than being a science teacher. Some how though, I just wasn’t sure how I’d explain why I was changing the major with only a year left.
For that one night though, I was part of a rapid response news team, right in the front of everything, heart pumping, adrenaline going… Shoot maybe that was the true birth of Mountainstroh…..
Thanks Scott! I owe you!