Wallace Galimore lived way out on the Como Road. His farm, as Aunt May White would say, was a “far piece away from nowhere.” Every time Dad hauled shell corn out that way, I’d catch a ride to hear the latest “goings and comings” in Mr. Wallace’s world.
“The Soviet Union won’t stop until they completely destroy us.” This was his favorite theme. “Old Ike had better wake up! I’m telling you, that Khrushchev guy can’t be trusted. They’ve got six hundred nuclear warheads hidden in toy factories in Kiev. He’s going to take over the world. Nikita is Russian for top banana!”
I tried to defuse him a mite by pointing out we had Senator McCarthy and John Glenn on our side……but I was just a kid. “They’ve got spies in Washington. Half of our college professors are communists! We ought to have mandatory classes on how to spot Russians on American soil!” He frightened me enough that I did ask for some communist spotting tips. “They wear red socks!” he bellowed, “And they have a big C branded on their chests”
“If they don’t get us the New Yorkers will.” You had to pay pretty close attention; Mr. Wallace would jump thoughts on you in a hurry. “They are buying up land around here like there ain’t going to be no tomorrow! They’re going to relocate all the Bowery Boys in Manhattan to West Tennessee. They’re already building little row houses down near Greenfield.”
Mr. Galimore was a dirt road news anchor. He kept his ear to the ground better than most. And he had the propensity—to put it in the reporting business parlance—of getting there “the firstest with the mostest.” I figured the exaggeration, imagination and just plain making things up came from too many sweltering hot days in the cotton fields south of Como.
“The space ship landed over by the cemetery. It didn’t make a sound as it came down. Those green fog lights lit up the whole sky.” Mr. Wallace had seen, and reported, more alien landings than anybody in our area…..except maybe for my older brother, Leon. “I didn’t see but two little spacemen get off. They had some kind of machine or device in their hands that was giving them a read out. I couldn’t tell if it was soil samples, dewberries or intelligent life they were looking for.”
You think this “Fake News” boloney that’s bursting forth on all sorts of social media today is some kind of new phenomenon? Shoot, Mr. Galimore was making a living off of it in 1953.
And if you go back to the mid 1890’s Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst were so bent on “out sensationalizing” each other in their competing newspapers, they brought on the Spanish American War. Pulitzer and Hearst’s “Yellow Journalism” and Fake News are kissing cousins. I bet you Plato, Socrates and Aristotle stretched the facts on occasion in hopes of enlarging their audience! Truth in reporting has always been an iffy thing.
So I wasn’t shocked when I found out that they have not legalized dog fighting in Nevada as a way to entice more customers into the casinos in Las Vegas. I wasn’t surprised when the national magazine recanted its story about the bridge being built from Honolulu to San Francisco. And I never even glanced at the headlines declaring that Ethiopia had fired nuclear missiles at Kazakhstan.
When I read this morning on facebook about the miraculous head transplant that had taken place recently in Japan, I thought immediately of Mr. Galimore. Boy howdy, he would be proud of that one! I could see him now, leaned back in that cane bottom seat on his front porch, explaining in detail how the Japanese doctors sewed that new head on!
You had to take Wallace Galimore with a grain of salt. He was entertaining, loved everybody and was just plain fun to be around. Of course, you didn’t believe half of what he said. And he delivered every story with a glint in his eye and that wry, you-might-not-want-to-believe-all-of-this smile on his lips.
I’m not sure that is exactly the way “Fake News” is being handled today. With so many stories from so many sources, somebody is bound to get hurt. How do you tell where the truth ends and the Paul Bunyan stuff starts? Did Donald Trump win the election? Is Lane Kiffin a real football coach? Can humpback whales speak English? I live in constant fear of the day Lester Holt reports that NCIS doesn’t actually exist.
You might remember a TV game show back in the fifties, emceed by Johnny Carson, named “Who Do You Trust?” They presented all sorts of tales and stories and the guest had to figure out who was lying, who was telling the truth and which little “gags” were on the up and up.
Sometimes I feel like we are all contestants on that show today……