From late 1980 to February 1982, during my second go-round as editor of the Newton County News, the big story was the ongoing battle between the Granby City Council and City Marshal Duane Beaver.
In addition to the articles that I wrote almost weekly about the civil war within the city limits, I was lucky enough to have the services of gifted cartoonist Scott White, whose weekly "White's Spot," poked fun at all kinds of things, many of them related to city government.
On one particular occasion, after a particularly heated city council meeting in which Mr. Beaver and councilman Bill Burress hurled numerous verbal barbs at each other, I decided not to run a photo on page one, scrapping it in favor of a blown-up cartoon Scott did, featuring Mr. Beaver and Mr. Burress in a boxing ring. It proved to be a wise decision; I had to restock our machines several times that week as we beat our usual street sales total by more than 400 copies.
Duane "Dewey" Beaver, whose tenure as the elected city marshal of Granby, lasted more than two decades, died Monday at age 80.
Most of my memories of Dewey come from those two years when I was attending the Granby City Council meetings and watched the fireworks as the council hired deputies for Beaver, who answered to the council instead of the city marshal. At one point, Beaver, whose hefty size and bullfrog voice made him stand out in any crowd, had two deputies who also were considerably larger than the norm and he was at odds with both of them during the entire time they were on the force. Scott White drew a cartoon of the three of them at a city council meeting 20 years in the future when this battle was still continuing, according to Scott's version. Dewey was livid when he saw this cartoon and made a rare visit to the Newton County News office.
"I want to talk to you about that cartoon," he said. I figured this was going to be my first libel suit threat, but I was wrong. "Scott did all right on (the deputies), but that cartoon doesn't look a bit like me," he said. I assured him Scott would do a better job in the future and he was satisfied with that.
Duane Beaver was a legend with the young people in the community during the 1970s and 1980s. I can remember many times when he would pull the cruiser behind the bleachers at the ballpark and either sit there and talk with the teens or get out of the car and watch some of the ballgame.
I can also remember many times at Reta's during my junior and senior years in high school and immediately thereafter when my friends and I enjoyed two of our favoriate pastimes- looking at the high school-age waitresses (and somehow Reta's always had the cream of the crop) and listening to Dewey Beaver's long and ceaselessly entertaining stories.
Apparently, Dewey's appeal was not limited to the young people. Granby voters rejected one attempt after another to turn city marshal from an elected position to an appointed one and kept returning Dewey to office. The position did not become an appointed one until after his retirement.
And of course, those who were around Granby during those times will recall that Dewey loved to stop at The White Spot (not to be confused with Scott White's weekly cartoons, which were just a play on that establishment's name) and play dominoes for hours. He spent so much time there that, at one point, a jokester placed a sign by the alley that read "Beaver Avenue."
A few years later, even Granby's city council came to realize the appeal of their oversized city marshal and made the name official. It brings back many fond memories of Dewey Beaver.
He was one of a kind.