Questions I’ve Been Asked Over the Years – Greeley Tribune

Well, I’ve been writing this Gnarly column for 50 years now.

Not that it did anything, but it gave me some experiences. Happy readers. angry readers. non-reader. All of them.

Anyway, my wife suggested that I write this column based on questions I’ve received over the years.

So here I go…

  • Question: What is a gnarled trumpet? A wrinkled horn?
  • Answer: In the 1870’s, when the Greeley Tribune was just getting started, they used Horace Greeley’s handwriting to publish the newspaper’s name. Unfortunately, Horace’s writing style wasn’t too good. So a newspaper in Cincinnati ran a story: We’d like to welcome a new newspaper to America. The Gnarled Trumpet in Greeley, Colorado. When my wife saw this in the museum, she realized that this was a newspaper that wrote about something they didn’t know. She suggested it would be a good name for my column. So there it is…
  • Question: People get mad at you?
  • Answer: I have received several death threats, sometimes the Greeley police have included our house on their nightly tours of the city just to make sure we are safe. A guy was angry because I wrote about some crimes he was arrested for and said he had a machete with him and if he saw me on the street he would cut my head off. The police issued a restraining order against him, but he simply disappeared. I hope he got rid of the machete.
  • Question: You targeted City Manager Roy Otto several times before he retired. why do you hate him
  • Answer: I don’t hate Roy. He is a good friend who takes jokes well. He is also a member of our retired coffee group when we meet each week for morning coffee. We have hats with our group’s name on them: GOMDC, which means Grumpy Old Men Drinking Coffee. The mayor is also a member of our group, so I can shoot him occasionally. None of them threatened to cut off my head.
  • Question: What was your most extraordinary experience as a reporter?
  • Answer: There were many of them. I once spent a night in the new prison just to write about the experience. Have written several ghost stories but never seen a ghost myself. When the new animal shelter opened near Keenesburg, I went down to write a story. There was a huge tiger in a fenced area and I asked the owner about it. He said it was very friendly and I could go in the cage and pet it if I wanted. I did it like an idiot. The tiger put his paws on my shoulders and stood high over my head. The owner just yelled, “Whatever you do, don’t fall!” Then the tiger bit my arm. I had a huge bruise and blister on my arm for several days. I’ve never heard of the tiger eating someone else.
  • How do you come up with your column ideas?
  • From readers contacting me, or from friends, or by watching the news and reading the newspaper. Likewise. Just go out and look at things. For example, this week I was driving down 10th Street and an ambulance came up behind me with lights flashing and a siren. I stopped to let it pass like you should. Then I saw the other driver behind the ambulance and tried to pass him. I guess the ambulance would slow down for this guy.

Anyway, idiots like that give me ideas too.

— The name Gnarly Trombone was taken from an 1871 Cincinnati newspaper that misread Horace Greeley’s handwritten name from the Greeley Tribune. Mike Peters is a retired editor of the Tribune. It can be emailed to Questions I’ve Been Asked Over the Years – Greeley Tribune

James Brien

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