The column called Cam Hutchinson & Friends: Views of a World — a name I don’t particularly like, but haven’t changed— turns 25 soon.
It was difficult to get items for the column back in 1994 when I took the reins. I know this sounds odd, but it was a dream come true to follow in the footsteps of those that compiled the column before me.
The Internet wasn’t what it became, so I would often go to the Book Nook in Cumberland Square and rummage through the papers it carried to find facts and quotes.
As time evolved, there was much more access to material and to the work of other writers. For a time, there was a whole bunch of us compiling columns and the jokes would move around among us to some extent. Papers such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle had daily columns.
We considered Tom FitzGerald of the Chronicle to be the dean of these columns. When you had a joke in Tom’s column, you felt like you were going places. I am not sure where, though.
As far as I know, none of the papers mentioned above have sports notebook columns. I don’t get that because they are a quick read and hopefully can bring a smile to a reader’s face.
The paper that now has the longest running one is in the Seattle Times. It’s still going great guns, thanks to the work of Dwight Perry. It’s a dandy. For another good one — and for the best information there is on the Western Hockey League — visit greggdrinnan.com. The column is called Taking Note.
A bunch of joke contributors popped up frequently in those columns. Janice Hough and Bill Littlejohn were two of them. Along the way, they became part of my column’s writing group. Others that joined up are TC Chong, Torben Rolfsen and RJ Currie.
Those folks send jokes every week, and I sort through them to pick an assortment for the column. It isn’t easy with so much good stuff. A few years ago RJ started writing a separate piece.
The notebook column in Canada goes back 50 or more years when the legendary Jack Matheson wrote one in the Winnipeg Free Press. Former StarPhoenix columnist Larry Tucker brought it from Winnipeg to Saskatoon. It was my favourite read in the SP, before and after I started working there.
These columns were known as dibs, maybe because the jokes were told in small amounts. Some of us still use the word.
During the time the column I compiled was published in the StarPhoenix, it took on a life of its own. At one time it appeared weekly in the Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun. It popped up in other papers as well.
One of the highlights was doing a daily column during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The lowlight was getting threats from a couple of readers, one of which I took seriously.
Rod Pedersen, the former play-by-play voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was offended by one of my jokes and put it in his blog, so his faithful followers could slag me. As the blog went on, he included my photo so they could talk about my looks. With all due respect, Rod isn’t that pretty either.
I wish I could remember what I said to get Rod so upset. I do recall one person telling the others that the joke could have been made about any city, and not to take it so personally.
Now that I think about it, the joke might have been about things Regina is known for, and the list included goose poop at Wascana Park. Every city has goose poop, just not as much as Regina.
I have compiled more than 1,200 columns since 1994; there was a spell when it ran twice a week in the StarPhoenix.
It’s hard to believe there have been that many of these. That, in the case of my contributions, is a lot of bad jokes. I apologize for each and every one of them.
The Globe and Mail recently celebrated its 175th year in publishing. Its first feature was on Gordon Lightfoot.
$4.6 million for bike lanes? My goodness.