Brower: Grand County just lost its sense of humor
August 29, 2017
Upon the death of Jon de Vos (also known as Friday) last week, I think it's fair to say that the county lost its resident humorist.
And, at times, its lighthearted conscience.
Jon wrote his humor column for the local newspapers that operated under my wary eye for 28 years. Then, he was writing for the now-decommissioned, Winter Park Manifest. And he wrote a humor column before that for the Manifest under Virginia Cornell's ownership. And he continued to write his humor column (at times known as The Friday Report) for 10 years after I left, for Sky-Hi News.
Whew. For sheer longevity, tenure and persistence, Friday has my respect.
But it's as a humor columnist that Jon de Vos stood out, both as a funny writer and as a funny writer who had a conscience who cared about the people and the locales of Grand County.
Jon's first goal was to get a laugh, a smile or a wry nod of agreement out of his readers. At that, he succeeded. And yet he also had a way of letting readers know that there could be at times something sad, meaningful or even tragic about the local aspects of our peculiar lives up here in Middle Park.
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I'll miss his columns.
One of my favorites was written just before Christmas a long time ago. The column starts as a reminiscence by Jon of his early days in Arizona when he had worked with a group that was going to entertain a group of young school children (first and second graders) in a season-appropriate manner.
Since it was Arizona and there was no snow on the ground, Santa was going to fly down to earth near this waiting group of school children gathered outdoors at a playing field. He wasn't going to descend on a sleigh laden with gifts and pulled by reindeer. Rather, he was going to descend with a bag full of gifts in a unique way. Santa, as a dummy with a big black bag on his back, was going to jump out of an airplane and parachute down to a nearby field. Then another club member, dressed also as Santa but with a real bag of gifts, was going to run out from behind some bushes in that field where "Santa" had parachuted to earth. Gifts would then be handed out to the children and the world would be a better place.
At the appointed time, the children were told to look up into the sky at a passing airplane. From it, they were told, Santa would jump out with a bag of gifts and float gently down to a nearby field. Everyone was excited.
The small Cessna showed up in the sky at the appointed time and the children, their faces turned excitedly skyward, watched in joyful anticipation, a field of happy faces. And sure enough, "Santa" jumped (or was pushed) from the plane, with a rip cord attached so the chute would deploy.
But something happened.
The chute never deployed and a field full of horrified first and second graders watched in horror as Santa descended to earth and his sure death in a free fall, the bag of gifts trailing awkwardly behind. The wails and lamentations were earsplitting. The children were all inconsolable.
Jon ended that column with a wry "Merry Christmas!"
I laughed for days after reading that column. And now, sadly, I don't know if I'll laugh quite like that ever again.
Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at.