Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Writing a Blog (or column) the Easy Way

The biggest lesson I learned during ten years spent writing a daily newspaper column was that life is easier if you let someone else do the writing. Today's guest who will handle part of the job is a gentleman named Erskine Fincher. He was trying to find a short story written by Al Nussbaum, the bank robber turned mystery writer featured here recently. He was directed to this site and after reading the piece wrote: "I was struck by how much the events in the story (he was looking for) looked like something that might have actually happened to Nussbaum. If you havent't read it the story is about a bank robber headed down to Miami from New York to case a bank. He left his hot-tempered partner in NY to keep him out of trouble. On the way down A1A he is directed to take a particular bypass by a guy in a truck stop. He does and it leads him right into a speed trap set up by a corrupt sheriff. The sheriff takes him to his house, which doubles as the courthouse. He introduces him to the judge, who is a relative of the sheriff. Both bear a striking resemblance to the guy at the truck stop. He's doing a slow burn as they put him through the wringer and extract a goodly sum of money from him in fines and court costs. When he finally makes it to Miami he calls his hot-tempered partner and tells him to come on down - stow the tommy gun in the trunk and be sure to take the aforementioned bypass."
What a great story. It does indeed sound like something that might have happened to Al Nussbaum rather than an idea he just dreamed up for a plot. Thank you, Erskine Fincher.
By the standards established by society Nussbaum was an evil man, at least during his younger days. But was he? As a reporter I spent a number of years covering the criminal courts in both Ohio and Indiana. Doing so taught me another lesson: Some, but not all, of the career criminals I met were better men in many ways than the people that had put them behind bars. Some I would have trusted to hold my wallet faster than I would many cops I have known.
The country has an abundance of sanctimonious, self-righteous men and women today but I wonder what percentage of them would have spent the lengthy period of time necessary to help a man build a new memory to replace the one he had lost as did Al Nussbaum. The words that come out of a man's mouth are not always indictative of his character. So which was the real Al Nussbaum, the bank robber or the good samaritan?

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