There are a handful of battle cries that have become so deeply woven into the fabric of our culture that they are iconic and timeless:
“REMEMBER THE ALAMO!”
“WE FREE MEN!”
“RELEASE THE SQUIRREL!”
Okay, so that last one may only be iconic on this blog. Nonetheless, it’s a battle cry that goes out every Tuesday, moments before I let “Skippy” the rabid, blindfolded squirrel loose in our newsroom. At first glance, this doesn’t seem to make any sense. But, just like one of those 3D paintings, keep looking at it and things become clear. If you continue staring, though, there’s a good chance Skippy will bite you. So to save time — and possibly a series of rabies vaccine injections — I’ll take a moment to explain what’s going on here.
Each Tuesday, I utilize my investigative journalism skills to determine the circumstances within a photo selected from The Box: a collection of unidentified photos that have remained unclaimed in our newsroom since the 1980s. Think of it as an early form of Snap-Chat, except without all the nude selfies.
In order to ensure the selection process is completely random, I wait until my fellow reporters are deep in concentration (i.e., snoring) before dumping the contents of The Box onto the newsroom floor. This is when I holler “RELEASE THE SQUIRREL!” and Skippy goes to work in the newsroom. The photo closest to the first person to scream, whether it be a man or woman, is chosen.
See? I told you it wasn’t as crazy as it sounded!
That brings us to this week’s mystery photo which, at first glance, appears to be a standard traffic stop here on the Oregon coast. Nothing much out of the ordinary. Aside from the size of that ticket, which means it must’ve been a fairly serious infraction.
At this point, most reporters would probably be satisfied with that explanation and the investigation would end here. But I’m not like most reporters. In fact, my editor has remarked, on more than one occasion, “Thank God I don’t have any other reporters like you.”
But this post isn’t about me and my accolades; it’s about finding the truth. To do that, we must take a closer look at this photo.
We must study it.
Dissect the photo section by section.
Um, then we must get Scotch tape and put it back together…
As is often the case, I found myself in the “morgue” at our newspaper, which is where we have issues of Siuslaw News dating back to the late 1860s (Although I’m pretty sure my editor has issues dating back even further. But we should probably stick with newspapers…)
It didn’t take long before I found the lead I was looking for, in the form of a series of mysterious car thefts back in 1985 — the last of which was a red Camero belonging to the local Masons lodge. Though eye witness accounts of the car thief varied, my investigative skills recognized two common denominators:
1) All of the witnesses had been interviewed outside the Beachcomber Tavern.
2) They all described the thief as resembling “A tall Leprechaun.”
Taking another look at the photo, all the pieces began falling together.
I’m sure many of you are way ahead of me at this point. However, for the sake of those who have been distracted by what they fear are sounds of a blindfolded, rabid squirrel somewhere in their office, I will summarize the irrefutable circumstances captured in this photo…
The officer, recognizing the Mason’s stolen red Camero, gave chase before eventually forcing the driver into this parking lot. It was at this point he discovered the driver was actually a Leprechaun. Don’t Leprechauns have a pot of gold? Haha! Of course not! They write a check…
The final piece of the puzzle is the license plate, which literally dares anyone to catch him…
Though the series of 1985 car thefts remains “unsolved,” I think we can agree the power of investigative journalism knows better.
Now, if only the “power of investigative journalism” knew where Skippy went…