Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

Some Newspapers Deserve to be Folded

When I was 14 years old, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer that was published on the editorial page. It was regarding Marvin Warner and my dismay about the Home State Savings and Loan Scandal. At this time, Marvin was still incarcerated in a white collar resort for his part in the undoing of Ohio’s savings and loan system.

Back then, your name, age, and part of town where you lived were listed under the published letters to the editor. When I submitted the letter, I also provided my phone number to the paper.

The day the letter was published I received a phone call after school. I was engaged in late afternoon activities and homework. My step father was at work and my mother was asleep, so it was I who answered the phone.

The stern, ominous man’s voice on the other end demanded to speak to me by my first name. He then began screaming at me, proclaiming the unending goodness of poor Marvin Warner. I demanded to know his name. He said he was an attorney, claimed his name was “Dave”, and that I needed to know no more than that. He told me that he could make sure I lost everything I had if I hadn’t already. He threatened me with litigation in the form of a libel suit, saying there were worse things than money a person could lose and that he knew my address.

I was horrified, but more than that, I was angered.

I proceeded to ask him if he paid attention to my age when he read my editorial letter. He asked what the fuck that had to do with anything. I then dropped the bombshell that I was only 14 years old. I actually said the words to him, “Do you realize you’re threatening a child?”

I was afraid to tell my parents what had happened. My step dad, a daily reader, was proud of me for making the paper.

The thing that most troubled me was that the notoriously conservative Cincinnati Enquirer had given the full name, address, and phone number of a fourteen year old child who expressed an opinion to a grown man with malicious intentions. Suppressing the little guy turned into verbally battering a little girl.

I thought of the incident again this morning as I considered the state of our middle class lives, Mitt Romney’s greasy multimillionaire smile, and the race for the presidency of Ohio…and you know what? I’m still mad as hell about it…

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