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A.J.'s absence piques newswoman's curiosity
Good folks of Lennox Valley
Lennox art-full

A week had gone by since A.J. Fryerson’s letter to the editor concerning Buford Levitt’s new gas pumps was published in the Lennox Valley Hometown News. In summary, he said the pumps were cheating the hard-working folks of the Valley.

Iris Long, editor, thought it peculiar she hadn’t received anything from A.J. in the week since.

A.J. could be counted on for at least one, and sometimes two or three, submissions each week. She didn’t always include a letter from A.J. on the opinion page, but sometimes she needed one to help fill out the page. And Iris couldn’t remember a week since his memorable letter of Aug. 2, 1991, that she hadn’t received at least one dispatch from the town complainer.

In that first missive, A.J. was angry with the Valley’s sole law enforcer, Chief Dibble. It seems during his first month as chief, Dibble stopped Fryerson for failure to come to a complete stop at Bearden’s Corner. This was before the town’s only red light was installed, and the four-way stop kept drivers from crashing into each other in front of the Baptist church.

A.J. was full of himself that day, writing, "Perhaps Chief Dibble was so focused on his chocolate donut that he failed to realize I stopped for a full seven seconds before turning right at the corner."

"The law," he continued, "requires just three seconds before making that turn."

Fryerson was confident of the timing because he remembered singing the classic line from the 1980’s hit, "Come On Eileen," while he waited to make his turn.

No one living in the Valley at the time has forgotten the crescendo of his classic letter:

"I have listened to ‘Come On Eileen’ 23 times this morning, and I can write with certainty the line I reference lasts a full seven seconds."

He went on to make several additional comments about the chief’s eating habits and suggested an appropriate nickname for Dibble might be "Chief Dribble," resulting from "all the chocolate dripping down his chin."

No one is sure what, if anything, Chief Dibble said or did in response to Fryerson’s tirade, but it was six weeks before A.J. submitted his next letter, and he hasn’t written a negative word about our beloved police chief since.

Iris had lunch at the Hoffbrau that day, taking the opportunity to ask her waitress and friend, Jessie Orr, if she had seen much of Fryerson over the past week. It was common knowledge A.J. was a daily customer at the ‘Brau.

Long couldn’t begin to remember the number of letters he had written complaining about something that "just didn’t taste right" during one of his meals at the diner.

"I haven’t seen A.J. since last Wednesday," Jessie answered. "It was right after I read his letter in the paper. I told him no one was gonna side with him against Buford Levitt."

"And you haven’t seen him since?" queried Iris.

"I figured he was sick or something," offered Jessie. "I can’t remember the last time he missed two days in a row."

"Maybe he is," Long responded.

Iris was a veteran journalist, and she wasn’t about to create unnecessary drama. After all, A.J. could be sick. Or maybe he took a trip, as unlikely as that seemed.

As she finished drinking the last sip of her coffee, Iris thought about the many enemies Fryerson had made over the years.

Even so, she could not have realized A.J. had submitted his last letter of 1998 to the Hometown News.

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