Finally, my town is known for something other than exploding whales

image Being that my family and I live in a coastal town, we are privy to a run of grey whales passing by on their way to and from the gulf of Mexico twice a year. Whether this migration is the result of natural instincts or male whales refusing to ask for directions is unclear. What I do know is that our small town of Florence, Ore., recieved national attention back in 1970, when a whale caracass washed up on a nearby beach. Though tourism skyrocketed during the first few days, that began to change as
nature took its course and a two-mile radius began to smell like a port-o-potty at an outdoor sushi convention.

City officials were suddenly faced with two crucial questions:

1) How to dispose of tons of rotting whale as quickly as possible?


2) Would the “I Had a Whale of a Time in Florence” T-shirts arrive it in time?

Eventually, officials chose the most logical solution, which came from a contractor who I’m guessing was going through a bitter divorce: disintegrate the whale by packing hundreds of pounds of dynamite around the carcass and blowing it up into tiny, insignificant bits of crab food!

In theory, it probably sounded feasible.

At least after a few beers.

In reality β€” are you sitting down? β€” it was a complete disaster. Flying whale bits and blubber rained down on spectators for half a mile. The local news coverage received national attention, getting as close to going “viral” as you could in those days without being tested…

So why am I bringing all of this up now? And how long until I’m shot during a drive-by from someone at our Chamber of Commerce?

The answer to the second question will depend on what time the gun store opens up.

The answer to the first question stems from this video I took a few days ago, when my family and I, along with a handful of spectators, watched as a small pod of orcas came up-river for a short visit to Florence before returning to the ocean. I’m happy to say there were no explosives involved, and the only blubbering came from the excitement of witnessing something so amazing…

I’d like to reiterate that no whales were harmed in the making of this video. Although I’m not sure I can say the same for myself once the Florence Tourism Board sees this…



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

33 thoughts on “Finally, my town is known for something other than exploding whales”

  1. OMG, Ned! That video (#1) was the most horrifyingly hilarious thing I’ve ever seen! Where was I in 1970, that I missed this little news item? Oh, yeah. Waddling around pregnant with my firstborn. I couldn’t even look at a tuna sandwich, much less anything that even mentioned rotten whale blubber. Truly, the things people come up with never fail to amaze me. And the supremely confident attitude of the guy interviewed is mind-boggling. “OH, yeah, sure, it’ll work.” *snort*

    Video #2 was really cool! I can’t imagine witnessing that. I did have to avert my eyes at that terrifying ending where you were all under attack. They don’t call ’em KILLER whales for nuthin’, do they? πŸ˜€

    1. I think the reporter had a good tiome with that story. At least until the blubber hit the fan. It’s probably best you weren’t privy to that report while you were pregnant; it would’ve been one more mess to clean up πŸ˜‰

  2. Completely hilarious!!! What good narration in that 1970 Channel 2 piece. Good luck with the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Board:0).

  3. we each have our special things. some have exploding whales, others – the grand canyon. one and the same, really. and yours has more action.

  4. Now if I lived there that would be the day that I would have innocently decided to go for a swim, only to find myself a part of Ned’s Ocra Documentary and Feeding Frenzy. I must say that was a viscous attack at the end – I’m surprised you survived to report in to us. (Honestly, I jumped and my heart pounded when that Orca came right at the camera.) As an old truck driver, I would not have fit into this Orca migration very well – I always wanted to go directly to the destination, no side trips to visit historic or tourist sites. I would say from the fact that those Orcas seemed to be wandering up every river they came to on their migration, that it was the women Orcas that were setting the schedule. “Oh look dear, this is where the humans blew up our colleague in 1970 – we should stop and visit.” Or perhaps it is the young Orcas that are setting the schedule: “Daaaaaad! I’m hungry, can we stop and see if there are any humans in the water here?” “Son, we have to get this migration done. If I agree to stop here will you let us continue without interruption?” Negotiations – you know how it is with teens.

    1. I’m going to have to go with option one: The kid Orcas setting the schedule. There was a carnival along the waterfront, so maybe they wanted to ride The Octopus? But arm bands were $25, andDad said “No Way! Too expensive. Plus, we don’t have ARMS!”

  5. Having worked in city, county and state government for three decades, I know precisely how this came to be. The proposal to dynamite the whale came during the last of four two-hour meetings, and the risk analyst (the guy responsible for saying, “Uh, that’s really bad idea) had dozed off.

  6. I have never heard of such a thing. Don’t you people have wood-chippers? Had my brother-in-law been alive at the time, I would have guessed this was his genius idea. That said, only a male would devise such an explosive plan. What is it w/ you guys and blowing things up?

  7. LMAO! I was sharing the whale explosion with my guys and my husband says he remembered it when it happened. The kid said he’d seen the video and told me about the car getting crushed. Seems like I was the last to know.

    1. Apparently, nine years later, a bunch of whales beached themselves and died. This time, they burned the carcasses and the smoke made everyone sick for several miles. No video of that, though. Thank God!

  8. Amazing to be able to see something like that. I’ve only seen whales on film.

    That video is better than all the internet cat videos in the history of the world wide web! (which is easy to say because I don’t do cat videos)

    1. *sigh* I’m ashamed to admit it, but I did do a cat video a little while back. But it wasn’t because she did something cute β€” If that helps my case at all.

      Yeah, I didn’t think so….

      1. I hope that was enough to get it out of your system, young man. It’s a gateway drug to the dark underbelly of emojis. πŸ˜†β€οΈπŸ˜‰

  9. Hey Ned you might edit that the whales migrate to the “gulf of Mexico” to the “tip of Baja” the Gulf is on the Atlantic side.

No one is watching, I swear...

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