Medicine Lodge, Kansas's Locally Owned And Operated Newspaper

Opinion / Religion - May 16, 2022

View From The Hills: Remembrance

Mark Twain

Mike Alfers was a man who lived fully. He could see potential when sometimes others could not. I don’t remember how he saw the clumsy attempts that I was writing in a whole new world that was called Blogging. I had done local reporting and doing some column work. I was using a number 2 pencil and legal pad. Then I found the electronic typewriter that had correction tape. Wow, correction tape was great since I was a lousy speller. It especially helped me with my country and cowboy poetry that I was doing.
When I had worked on a book for a couple of years and shopped the manuscript around, I started collecting rejection letters. This is a right of passage for new writers. Many successful writers say that they could paper a wall with all the rejection letters they received before selling their first project. But I was not prepared to see five of the book publishers come out with very loose copies of my book within a year. This was the time when they had you send in the whole manuscript, complete with postage and envelope, to send a rejection back to me.
Totally discouraged (the nicest word I could come up with) I just quit writing. When we moved to Barber County and started building The Bunkhouse, mom bought a computer. I had stayed away from confusers stubbornly. Then I tried writing with it. The word processor that mom had was a complete mystery to me. But the Dell PC acted like a typewriter, when I had it in the right program. It even had Spellcheck.
Thus I came into the 21st Century kicking and screaming. Dad had taken one lesson on the confuser with Mom and never went back. I just started doing things and finally had a rudimentary knowledge of the thing. So then a silly thing happened, I started having health problems. When I could not get on my tractor anymore I was going to be stuck on a chair.
Long story short. I started to see people writing their opinions on things called blogs. Since I am an opinionated guy I found a thing called Blogger. I started figuring out how to write a story and put it out for people to read. And I immediately learned of the world of Trolls. Since I was a conservative I found that there are entire groups of people who just disagree with everything I said. Not in a constructive criticism way, but in a mean and hateful way. But I found a lot of supporters. It seems that there are a lot of people who agree with me and are glad that someone says it for them.
I started submitting my stories to newspapers and some of them started to use my work. Then I met Mike Alfers.
Mike liked what I was doing. The Rural Messenger became my first regular weekly publisher. I still have other papers pick me up and I really appreciate them. But Mike and I would visit on the phone as well as email. Without criticizing me he helped improve my story telling. When I moved from Blogger to WordPress Mike helped me navigate the new home.
I did not learn about the extensive background Mike had in the newspaper business. He was always talking more about me than himself, (a good reporter). I was amazed about him publishing a paper for Bosnian’s in their language. I never did get the full story.
I did want his roll top desk. When they called to see if I wanted to buy it I had already purchased two roll tops and had no place for his. That was the first strong inkling that things were not going well health wise for Mike. He has been fighting illness for a while, but I knew this was serious if he was selling his desk.
This has been a rough year and we are losing a lot of good people due to illness. Mike will always be the spirit behind the Rural Messenger. He had the key to a papers success, keep the reader happy and take care of the advertisers. Actually a very simple formula that many newspapers never figured out.
My ‘View From the Hill’ is that there is a big hole in my life. Mike you made the deadline. Copy-Print.

By Roger Ringer

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