By Bob Huber: Local Columnist
Whenever the yuletide season rears its evil head, I’m always reminded of my world-class journalistic enterprises. In fact, I get all teary eyed and go looking for Kleenex tissues with wintry scenes printed on them.
Back in olden times I reported for the Denver Post, and my city editor, a weary cynic named Snyder, said through his hangover, “Huber, go find a heart-rending Christmas story.”
“What a unique notion, boss,” I said. “How do you come up with these ideas?”
“But just remember to include the eight golden items of a good Denver Post story,” he went on. “They are: college unrest, urban renewal, the Middle East, the ACLU, homosexuals, the weather, women’s fashions and politics. They must be in every story. Do you want me to write them down for you?”
Realizing I had been privileged to be assigned this Pulitzer Prize Christmas yarn — everyone else in the city room had gone to a bar or a matinee — I drove north to that hotbed of student unrest, the University of Colorado, keeping my eyes peeled all the while for a good Christmas story.
As it turned out CU never made it into the Unrest Hall of Fame, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. At the forefront was a coalition of wandering gypsies from back East and local bearded faculty members, united in the belief that college students were old enough to hold their liquor at bra burnings. I looked up both groups in hopes of stumbling onto a gay yuletide yarn about homosexual elves, thus crossing off another ingredient of Snyder’s prize-winning story recipe.
But first let me digress. I should explain that around Christmas I always wore a military baseball cap festooned with tiny bells that jingled rhythmically when I walked. Another reporter named Red Fenwick gave me the hat one Christmas, plunking it on my head saying, “Huber, if I had a daughter, I’d want her to look just like you.”
So picture me, a detested member of the right-wing press mingling with angry student activists, and you’ll get right into the Christmas spirit. That was when one of the faculty organizers, an Iranian political scientist, suggested they blow up the state capitol in Denver on Christmas Eve to show contempt for Jewish peddlers and the Coors family.
I shook my head and sighed, and everyone turned to me. I explained, “Merchants love that kind of urban redevelopment. They’ve been secretly longing to blow up the legislature for years.”
“Then let’s blast the big Cinderella Shopping Mall.”
I shook my head again. “Their sales are down, their ads are weak and just last week their underground parking lot flooded. You’ll just get the ACLU in your holiday stocking, and you know how popular that is.”
At that, a pretty girl in a half dozen faded dresses and scuffed jump boots said, “To heck with it. I’m going Christmas shopping. I don’t care what the weather report says.” And that broke up the meeting.
When I handed in my story later, Snyder perused it and said, “That’s fine. It has all eight ingredients of a prize- winning story — college unrest, urban renewal, the Middle East, the ACLU, homosexuals, the weather, women’s fashions and politics.
But what does it have to do with Christmas?”
And that’s what always brings tears to my eyes.