Announcer: “And in this week’s episode of Josh the Unsuccessful Bounty Hunter, Josh goes after Mugs O’Feeny, Public Enemy Number One!”
Announcer: “And in this week’s episode of Josh the Unsuccessful Bounty Hunter, Josh goes after Mugs O’Feeny, Public Enemy Number One!” (Cut to shot of Joshua, wearing slacks, running shoes, and a nylon windbreaker strolling toward a seedy looking hotel room. Joshua knocks on the door.) Joshua: “Hello?” Mugs (inside): “Whad’ya want?’ Joshua: “Do you wish to give yourself up, please?” Mugs (inside): “Go away!” Joshua: “Not a problem, sir.” (Leaves.) . . . I like making up stuff for these columns, but every now and then I stumble across something in real life that’s funnier than anything I could attempt to make up. A couple weeks ago, while waiting to interview someone in the public library, my eye wandered the racks and I saw a book about pirates. I went through a phase in elementary school when I was obsessed with pirates, so I grabbed the book and took it home. There I learned about Stede Bonnet (1688-1718), known to pirate afficionados as “The Gentleman Pirate”. Talk about someone who just didn’t get it. Bonnet was born into a wealthy family who owned an large estate on the Caribbean island of Barbados. When he was 29 years old, Bonnet decided he was tired of running the family sugar cane farm, and decided to become a pirate. The fact Bonnet had no seafaring experience whatsoever appears to have not played a part in his decision. Bonnet’s first step: he went down to the docks and bought himself a good, solid pirate ship. I’m sure all you pirate purists are having the same reaction pirates back then did — a groan, followed by the phrase, “No, no, no! You don’t buy a pirate ship! You steal one!” Then Bonnet prowled the dockside bars and dives for a good pirate crew — each of whom he promised to pay a weekly salary. (“No, no, no! You don’t pay a pirate crew a salary! You give them shares of the booty!”) Bonnet and his crew wandered the eastern seaboard for a few months, and in spite of everything managed to successfully rob a few small sailing ships. Then Bonnet encountered the mighty Blackbeard the pirate. Blackbeard, no dummy, saw what was going on and generously offered to guest-command Bonnet’s ship and crew for him. For the duration of the voyage, Bonnet was confined to his quarters on Blackbeard’s ship while Blackbeard gave the orders. In 1718 Bonnet accepted a pardon from the North Carolina governor and could have gone back to sugar cane farming, one of the few things he was actually qualified to do. Instead he went back to pirating, was quickly captured, and hanged. Lesson: stick with what you’re actually good at. . . . Today, Aug. 18, is the Gazette’s 146th birthday. The forerunner of the Gazette, The Patriot, was first published on Aug. 18, 1868 by Sam McPhail, founder of Redwood Falls. For the few years The Patriot came out only twice a year. We take it timeliness wasn’t one of their highest priorities.