Patrick Brower guest opinion: In memory of Cece Krewson
October 4, 2011
I was laughing through my tears as I researched information for Cece Krewson’s obituary.
I was crying because Cece Krewson, a longtime columnist and reporter for the Sky-Hi News, died Sept. 17. He was 89. I was laughing because I was reading many of his old columns that originally appeared in the Sky-Hi News (and the Grand Lake Prospector) from 1982 to 1998.
Cece was a good friend of mine. But even more, he was a trusted colleague who taught me a lot about the newspaper business while theoretically being my “employee” when I was editor and publisher. That, in and of itself, says a lot about Cece. There he was, an experienced journalist 34 years older than me. He had already owned, edited and published newspapers and written national award-winning columns and news articles. He worked for me, a neophyte at the time. He let me “manage” him while at the same time teaching me a thing or two along the way.
And we had fun doing it. He made sure of that.
I still love it that he composed and built local crossword puzzles for our newspapers. He had local clues featuring local place names and local names. Readers loved this feature.
Cece confessed in one of his columns that he was a “word junkie.” He said that rather than smoke a joint or snort a line of coke, he’d stay up nights playing with words. In that vein, here’s a poem of his that he composed after coming across “crested auklet” in the Funk and Wagnalls dictionary. This poem was one of his favorites. It’s called: “Confessions of a Chocoholic.”
I’ll eat whatever’s swathed in chocolate,
I’d even try a crested auklet,
Turkey wattles, scorpion tail,
Perhaps a small filet of whale.
And what’s a newt or newborn goose,
Since I grew up on chocolate mousse?
Cece wrote that to get in a better mood, he’d come up with stuff like:
I’d buy a ladder for some curmudgeon
To help him climb on his own high dudgeon.
Heaven knows I’ve tried real hard
To avoid getting hoist on my own petard.
He also had a “songbook” of verses. This one he composed for Grand County locals, to be sung to the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey.” It’s called “Down in a Deep Ditch:”
Way down in a deep ditch,
All covered with snow,
There sits a flat-lander,
With no place to go.
He wouldn’t buy snow tires,
He wouldn’t buy chains,
So a guy with a tow-truck,
His pocketbook drains.
He had to go skiing,
And drive Berthoud Pass,
And so he’s deserving,
A kick in the behind.
There were so many more. Cece truly did grow up with newspapering in his blood. Consider this tid-bit he wrote about how his mother took care of him as a baby:
“I’m told she introduced me to newspapering at a very tender age, since I seemed to sleep best when she parked my carriage next to the ancient press, where a soft breeze wafted over me every time the delivery arm would pluck a freshly printed paper off the cylinder and deposit it in a slowly growing pile. And I expect that resulted in an inordinate amount of printer’s ink seeping into my lungs and bloodstream – where it remains to this day.”
Cece rarely wrote about death and dying. But since he’s now dead, I doubt he’d mind if I end this elegy with some recapitulations about his writings in those areas. He wrote once about writing his will and noticed the sad and dour looks on the faces of the law office employees in his presence at the time. He felt something had to be said to relieve the tension:
“And all I could think of was to ask their opinion as to whether the back bar at the Ole Grand Inn, The El Monte or the Longbranch in Granby; Grumpy’s or the Lariat in Grand Lake, The Winchester Saloon at SilverCreek, the Wagon or the Hoof ‘n Horn in Kremmling … would be the most appropriate repository for my ashes.” (Those are the names of bars in Grand County, some of which no longer exist.)
About reincarnation, and if one just might return as a tree rather than a being, he wrote: “Speculating on this question, my immediate reaction was that I’d like to be a strong oak or towering redwood, but then – after more careful recollection – I decided I would rather be any kind of tree, as long as it was growing far away from any dogs.”
Cece wrote about funerals once, saying he felt they were “barbaric” rites of the civilized world, mainly because they provide one aspect of death that is very trying for survivors. True to his beliefs, he eschewed funerals or rituals for his death. He was cremated, no ceremony planned.