Humor of the common man
“Besides writing a weekly column for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Maynard is also a way below average golfer, a barely passable skier and a totally inept dancer. What he can do better than anyone else is sweat and sleep, skills that as of this writing still suffer from a lack of demand. Should either perspiring or sonambulance become an Olympic sport look for Maynard to head the USA contingent.”
— From Dick Maynard’s Web site, http://www.dickmaynard.com
It was in the mid-1980s when Dick Maynard, a fairly new Daily Sentinel columnist, unwittingly found himself the target of an irate governor, Dick Lamm.
While it seems funny now, Maynard, in one of his ramblings, apparently struck a nerve when he penned something to the effect that the city of Pueblo looked as if it had been purchased out of a Montgomery Ward catalog and put on backward. He added that the city, which was undergoing especially tough economic times and was considering legalizing gambling, needn’t have done that because gambling only encourages unemployment and crime, something which, he said, they already had enough of.
Thirty years later, Maynard said last week via phone while visiting his grandchildren in Denver, he can look back at that column and laugh. Maynard, who without fail wrote one column per week for the past six years for The Sentinel, in addition to a series of columns in the 1980s, will pen his last for this publication Wednesday.
“I’ve always thought the best time to leave somebody’s house is when you still want to stay there,” Maynard said, describing his relationship with the paper and his career in column writing. “At no time was it ever a job, and I would worry that it would become that.”
Maynard, a family man who retired after 30 years in the radio business, still recalls being chewed out on the phone by the editor of the Pueblo Chieftain while one of his daughters was banging pots and pans in the background, and another daughter was trying to get on the phone. All of this chaos for an article he was paid $25 to write.
As the story goes, the Chieftain, bitter that The Sentinel wouldn’t apologize for the column, placed Maynard’s story on its front page. It just so happened Lamm, a Democrat who was running for re-election and was stumping for votes in Pueblo that day, was accosted by local officials who demanded action about Maynard’s story. Lamm proceeded to use the story as a platform to rally against what he considered was divisiveness around the state. Maynard soon was enmeshed in a media hailstorm.
“Lamm was more than happy to deflect the attention my way,” Maynard said with a chuckle.
But Maynard’s columns didn’t tend to be controversial. Rather, he “connected with the common man,” and “while he occasionally got under people’s skin, he generally wrote about things that made people feel good,” former Sentinel publisher George Orbanek said.
Known for weaving in healthy doses of self-deprecating humor, “Maynard’s Milieu” spanned a broad range of topics from his bicycling and running adventures, to compositions on the sillier side of the news of the day, his children and now grandchildren, and, of course, the best college ever, his alma mater, Iowa State University. A sampling of his columns’ headlines include: “Big Bangs,” (July 4, 1982); “World Peace Through Sleep, (Aug. 23, 2006); “Real Men Don’t Drink Apple-tinis” (Nov. 8, 2006) and “Miss Manners for the Geezer ’Net Set” (Feb. 2, 2009).
Maynard’s Milieu is one of the paper’s most well-read columns, according to Sentinel market research, Executive Editor Denny Herzog said. Herzog said Maynard never missed submitting a column, even while on vacation, and his easy writing style was “all over the place. You never knew what he’s going to write about next.”
After submitting a column once about Maid-Rites, a sandwich of loose beef popular in the Midwest, the entree became a staple at a local restaurant, The Blue Moon.
“That is really the height of community service, if you can get Maid-Rites in town,” Herzog said.
Recently, Maynard submitted a column about the similarities of guys named Dick. The column was hilarious, Herzog said, but he couldn’t publish it because it wasn’t family-friendly. Sensing this might happen, Maynard had a backup column ready.
Maynard, who will celebrate his 70th birthday this fall, says proudly he does not watch prime-time television and never has watched a reality-based TV show. He doesn’t read fiction.
Maynard said he never cared to write about religion or politics, but ideas about what he wants to write about come easily. Not one to procrastinate, Maynard writes his columns on Wednesdays and Thursdays on his iMac, and tweaks them the rest of the week thanks to the help of his wife, Jan, before sending them off to Sentinel editors on Sunday afternoons.
“I’ve always said morning radio is the most fun you can have with your pants on, and writing a column comes pretty close to that,” Maynard said. “I had a friend who called my columns a chuckle-fest. You can only write for yourself.”
After being married 43 years, Maynard said, he never made Jan laugh out loud until he wrote a May 6, 2009, column called “The Nanny State.”
“It’s now time to quit, once you’ve accomplished the impossible,” he joked.
Maynard, who refers to himself and even his friends as geezers, said he isn’t keen on getting too introspective, though he is fond of lattes and beer. Throughout a daily diary he compiled of bicycling across the United States, Maynard refers to the minivan that Jan drove as a support vehicle as the Moose Drool Express. Maynard quickly fell in love with the Montana-based beer.
For his next adventure, Maynard plans to bicycle from Canada to the Gulf Coast. He and Jan plan to spend next winter in Australia and New Zealand. The two travel extensively, often visiting one of their daughters and her children in Denver.
The couple had three local radio stations, KOOL-FM, 104.6-FM Mix and country station KEKB-FM.
The country station was named after their daughters, Krista, Erin and Becca. He retired after selling his stations to Cumulus Broadcasting in 1999.
In radio, Maynard said, the best joke would be gone after it was delivered.
“Radio is so immediate,” he said. “The thing that is so cool about print is if you do something that was fall-on-the-floor-funny, you can go back to it.”
Maynard said Jan is encouraging him to compile his columns into a book, but he wonders whether anyone except his immediate family would purchase a copy. Archives of his columns can be found at http://www.dickmaynard.com and http://www.gjsentinel.com. He teased that he may add “the column The Sentinel wouldn’t run” to his Web page.
Maynard would not reveal what’s cooking for his final column Wednesday, but he promised it “won’t be too sappy.”
“This isn’t me waving a white flag on life,” he said. “It’s time to do something else. Who knows?
Maybe I’ll manage the (Colorado) Rockies when they fire Clint Hurdle.”