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Meet the Reporters of The Lankville Daily News

Gump Tibbs

Gump Tibbs

My first interview was with Coach Keebler of the Lankville Juniors (Smaller) Hockey Club. He ignored all my hockey questions and started right in on a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that you could order that had your own picture on it. “You can get these god damn things for a song, like under $20, I’m talking,” he said. “I elected to use an old army picture.” There was a long, seemingly meaningless pause. I had no idea what to say.

Then he started encouraging me to get one. “Course, the only thing is it takes about eight weeks, so I can’t exactly comment on the quality just yet. But I’m sure it’ll be fine. I mean, can you even imagine such a thing? A jigsaw puzzle with your own god damn picture on it?”

He looked me up and down then. I was just out of college and could only muster a reasonably clean white shirt, a gravy-stained tie and some basketball shorts.

“Let me buy you some clothes,” he said. “Help you get on your feet.” And he led me over to a church thrift store where he picked out a couple of suits, one Island. “I won’t lie to you,” the cashier said. “Some guy died in one of these. But I’ve forgotten which.” Coach Keebler bought them anyway.

And then, very quietly, he himself began to die. I could see it coming—it was slow, deliberate. Then, very suddenly, he collapsed into a stack of board games. Pieces flew everywhere.

I never wrote up that interview. But the suits got me on my way.

Gump Tibbs has been covering life in Lankville since 1982.

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