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Here Lies Jim Cook

The epitaph above has no sinister meaning. I just always wanted to write that.

I have suggested to Miss Ellie that she bury me in one location–not right away, of course–and put the headstone somewhere else. She appeared confused. She does not understand the joy of pure cussedness.

My actual headstone is to carry my motto of many years: “You just never know.”

It hardly seems possible that seven years have passed since we anxiously awaited Y2K, fearing that the world as we knew it would collapse.

It is taking a little longer than we expected, but people in high places are working toward that goal. I just hope that we get to experience 2007 before 2008, which seems to be the only number on the minds of people in high places.

The new year finds me in the grip of unremitting lassitude. I have made only one resolution: Every day, on the following day, I will do something useful.

Maybe I’ll once again tackle the problem of organizing my belongings, most of which seem to be in the form of paper. My collection of paper is second only to, and dwarfed by, that of my loving wife.

When I began using computers twenty-five years ago, experts predicted that we would soon have a paper-free, cashless society. I have achieved the cashless part.

Computers are attached at one end to a printer, and at the other end to the Internet. This means that instead of going to a library and grubbing through books and microfilm, as I did for decades, I can tap into the world’s collection of information, misinformation and disinformation.

All of these formations are piling up in my room, joining the jumbled notes and clippings from forty years of journalism.

About three years ago, I set out to conquer this mountain. I consolidated the contents of four bankers boxes into two bankers boxes.

Those boxes conspired during the night,and by morning there were five bankers boxes and a banker in my room, plus a shipping carton from Amazon.com.

Miss Ellie has suggested that I alphabetize my files. “You know: A, B, C…” She is not the first to suggest this.

The actual filing cabinets in my room were once in alphabetical order. That was about a dozen years ago, when I retired simultaneously from being a newspaperman and a historian.

I rarely open those file drawers. The folders therein, perhaps out of sheer boredom, have migrated from place to place, neighboring around all through the drawers.

For the sake of accuracy–I wouldn’t want to lie to you–I just took a core sample of the file titles in the second drawer down from the top of the right-hand cabinet.

“Tewksbury–Bates–Mogollon–Stage Robbery– Love Story–Big Dry Wash–Salome Sun– Sitgreaves–Searchlight–Stampedes–Lost Mines– 1910–Swilling, Jack….”

Several files are labeled “1910,” my favorite year in Arizona history. Unfortunately,they are scattered among the Ps and Qs and Hs.

I suspect that the file folders are mating and multiplying; I know for certain that this is happening in the cabinet where a lifetime of snapshots reside. Fertile little buggers.

There are other collections, too copious to mention, and I don’t want to inflict on you the boredom that I am certain to encounter when I tackle the problem.

I’ll start with the filing cabinets, then move on to the bankers boxes, which, through merbers and acquisitions, now amount to an international cartel.

You should hear from me again around the middle of 2009.

Last 5 posts by Jim Cook

5 comments to Here Lies Jim Cook

  • donna abbott

    Just want you to know how much I enjoy Jim Cook’s articles! It’s such a pleasure to read his amusing and well written observations. Thank you for your contributions!

    donna abbott

  • Jon Lorensen

    Love your style. just love it. Jon

  • Pamela Tait

    PLEASE do not throw away all of that history. With the onslaught of the computers you mentioned, we have our lives stored in gigabytes today. That material you have is precious. It is probably some of the last material in history, so it is technically priceless.

    This is the first article of yours I’ve read, so I am not familiar with your work. You are an amazing writer. Have you considered taking your material and publishing a lot of it?


  • Kevin Barnes

    Dear Mr. Cook, I read a number of your articles and really enjoy them. I am trying to find a resource to help me with Wickenburg, please let me know if there is anyone that could help with the following:

    My Grandfather, Herbert Cameron was a resident of Wickenburg in the 50’s. He and his wife Faye owned the Desert Cypress Trailer Park, and he was also Mayor for a period. They build an adobe home and I am trying to locate the address. A newspaper article from 1954 states that they built the house on seven acres in Villa del Rio Estates.

    Any information on the area of town or address of this development is greatly appreciated.

    Best regards, Kevin

    Kevin Barnes
    Westminster, Colorado

  • Where do you come from Mr. Cook? Did you ever come across a lady named marie who ended up having a son? Are you the one who left in the 1950’s? Funny, The family resemblence is uncanning. My father is dead now, but if this is you-thanks for dumping this horrid life of hell on me.