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The Oyster WorldBill Annett Salem-News.com
Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.
(DAYTONA BEACH) - Editorial note - A recent news item datelined Mulino, Oregon has created a furor, especially in the northern part of the Hemisphere known to aboriginal people as Turtle Island. First carried by the popular news agency Salem-News.com, this breaking story was headlined: "Clackamas County Sheriff Recovers Wally the Alligator," and reported briefly as follows:
"On Monday, April 8, around 4:00 P.M. the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office responded to an anonymous tip about an alligator kept in a shed off of S. Marshall Road in Mulino.
"Deputies responded and found the alligator in a shed on the property. The alligator was being cared for and was found in healthy condition. His name is Wally, he is about 4 feet long and is estimated to be about 12-14 years old."
Ownership of alligators is prohibited in Oregon without a special permit. No permit was issued to allow the ownership of Wally. No charges are being filed at this time, but Wally is being held at the Sheriff's Office without bail, since he was judged to be a flight risk, albeit a slow one."
A reptile dysfunction in Oregon...
The World-wide Response: Free Wally!
In later years, I passed frequently through Oregon as a river, like the daughter of Tarshish, following Interstate 5 from Seattle to San Diego, rejoicing in the lack of state tax on gas compared with its sister States to the north and south, nevertheless beefed up above par by its aggressive filling station operators, opportunists matched only by their avaricious counterparts in Georgia, also tax-free. And ever and anon, working out of an office in suburban Portland, while operating consistently at a loss, I nevertheless gauged the exceptionalism of Oregon's people - in business, in the arts, in the Seaside Jazz Festival.
So the story of Wally the Alligator I found deeply troubling, and accordingly dispatched an investigative journalist to examine the problem, a keen reporter who was resting idly on his laurels ever since his three-part scoop dealing with the Mountie's Musical Ride in neighboring Canada.
After interviewing the Sheriff of Clackamas County, our intrepid reporter next sought out Professor Herpes Brunschlagel of the Oregon State University's Faculty of Herpetological Studies, with a query as to the possibility of his faculty's acquiring and caring for Wally, since if anybody could be granted a special licence it must be the richly endowed herpetologists at OSU.
"Nein," replied the Professoe. "Ve haff 2,900 specimens in our collection, vich iss der largest in Hamerica. But dey iss either frozen tissue or dead and preserved reptiles. You vant I should haff a live alligator in der lab? Haben zie nuts becomen? Yuk!"
Meanwhile, a competing story broke in nearby Utah, where a colony of beavers were being credited with having saved a community from the effects of a pipeline oil spill by the simple expedient of building a dam that corralled the thousands of gallons of Alberta crude. (The latter expression is in no way intended as derogatory toward our friendly neighbors to the north, just their damn shale oil.) Noting the famous statue to the seagull in Salt Lake City, the Mayor suggested that a corresponding statue to the Utah beaver be erected.
"Oregon may have an alligator problem," said the Mayor, "but Utah celebrates her eager beavers."
Closer to home, the National Rifle Association's vice-president for Oregon, based in Portland, held a press conference following Wally's arrest and detention.
"It goes to prove what we've said all along," the NRA spokesman said in part. "This sort of threat comes along all the time, and in spite of the pantywaist, lily white liberals who are constantly trying to strip us of our Constitutional rights, if there are going to be alligators menacing our children in Oregon, it demonstrates why more than ever there should be an AK-47 assault rifle in every family room."
Following a lead suggested by the Utah beaver incident, our reporter interviewed the Premier of Alberta (Canada), initially concerning the toxic quality of shale oil, and then the question of alligators in that Province.
"Our oil is the purest in the world," said the Premier. "They used to call us Texas North, but now we're referred to as Athabaska South. And to answer your second question, no, we don't have any alligators in Alberta, but more important, we're the only rat-free area in North America."
"What's that got to do with -"
"It's illegal in Alberta for anybody to keep a rat as a pet, even. The only rats in Alberta are in zoos, colleges and universities."
Before filing his story, our reporter contacted the most authoritative source of alligator information, Governor Rick Scott of Florida.
"I'm glad you called,," said the Governor. "I've already been in touch with Governor Kitzhaber in Salem. I don't know how Wally got there, but we'll be glad to welcome him back."
"Whatever for?" asked the reporter.
"Since I took office," said the Governor, "we've had two major initiatives. The first has been introducing a means test for food stamps, establishing the cut-off point at an annual income of fifty grand a year. With the revenue saved, we've engaged BP - this is the second initiative - to duplicate their great restorative work in the Gulf of Mexico with a mammoth ad campaign to promote Florida's Everglades as a vacation wonderland."
"Sounds great, but -"
"Ever since Hurricane Andrew, when the Miami Zoo was trashed, and all the snakes headed west, the python population in the Everglades has mushroomed. A couple of liberal senators have campaigned to hunt them down, but we Republicans want to follow a more natural course and allow nature and the food chain to balance itself. So to keep the pythons in check, we need all the alligators we can get."
Reporting this generous offer back to the Sheriff in Clackamas County, our man encountered a feeling of disappointment.
"We'll be sorry to see Wally go," said a spokesdeputy. "We used to be plagued with feral cats around here. I haven't seen one in a week."
Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.
At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.
He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.
Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.
You can write to Bill Annett at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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