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July 27, 2005

In another recent column the other day about taxicabs years ago in Perry, I commented that one of the taxi drivers in this little city made people scatter when they saw him coming. To be perfectly fair, he was not the only one who had that effect on people, and he seemed to understand that there was nothing personal in all that foolishness. Here's something to keep our perspective clear.

I was a newly hired reporter for this newspaper one day about 60 years ago. The editor and publisher, or "the boss" as we usually called him, was Mr. W.K. Leatherock. He was a hard-headed, businesslike person in most conversations, but he had his limits. One day, a group of us from the news department were listening to his pronouncements when the phone rang and someone told Mr. Leatherock that call was for him. It was his Mother, Rilla Leatherock, who had his respect, something a lot of us aspired for. Mrs. Leatherock was, indeed, on the line, and he listened to the phone as she spoke. When she was finished, he had done an Ernest Gilbert-like slow burn and he put the phone down in its cradle gingerly. "Damn," said Mr. Leatherock, bitterly. (Usually his remarks to us were brief and to the point, so we understood.)

"Everything all right?," someone asked, not really expecting an answer.

"Yeah," WKL replied. "Mom parked her car sideways in the middle of her garage and she can't get it straightened out. I'll be back in about ten minutes."

With that, he stalked out of the office and none of us dared ask him about the situation when he returned. Mrs. Leatherock lived in an attractive one-story house on West Delaware street, with a detached double garage for her one automobile. We thought a lot of her but understood such difficulties, and as far as I know this is the first time it's been mentioned in what used to be her son's newspaper. WKL and Rilla both are now deceased. They were nice to me and I thought a great deal of them, but this little incident has tickled me for many years.