Storytime

When folks find out what I do for a living, they always tell me how exciting my job must be.

My standard comeback:  “It has its moments.”

The moments and the people keep you coming back.

People like Larry Dobbs and Frank Gonzalez.

Frank had his face rearranged by a mortar blast in Vietnam in 1968. An Army medic, Larry saved his life,  stopping the flow of blood from the jugular vein with duct tape. I was there when they saw each other for the first time in 42 years.

You don’t forget days like that.

Twelve years ago, I drove three hours to interview a man who at the time was the world’s oldest person, Benjamin Harrison Holcomb. Propped up in a wheelchair, he didn’t utter a word, letting his 110 years speak for him.

I’ve served time in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, covering three executions. Minutes before the lethal injection is administered, a slow rumble builds in the prison as inmates clang on their cells in protest. There is no sound in the death chamber, save for the final gasps of the condemned.

Charles Cox, 93, recounted an incredible story to me in 2009. His father, an infantryman for the Union Army, fought in the Civil War. Charles was born when his dad, who married three times, was 73.

Alex Barton’s tale was as sad as it was improbable.

His 12-year-old son was showing a rifle to his cousin in the garage when the gun went off. The bullet traveled through a wall and struck the boy’s mother as she was bending over the sink. She died a day later.

“Some people win the lottery and I get this — and about the same odds,” Barton said.

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