Nothing Up My Sleeve

Jon Gallagher


Happy Anniversary to Us


The Beatles once sang, “It was 20 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught his band to play….”

When that song first came out, I had no concept of what 20 years was.  After all, I was only eight years old.

Now, I have a very good concept of 20 years.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long since I picked up my first edition of the Zephyr for free and saw that they were looking for writers. 

Way back then, I was working for Gates Rubber Company.  I called the Zephyr office and told them I was interested in writing.  Todd Moore took my call and explained that they’d be happy to look at what I had, but I should be aware that they didn’t pay anything.  In that respect, not much has changed in the past twenty years.

The memory from there is a little foggy.  I think I may have taken in some stories, typed out on an electric typewriter, and Todd had looked them over.  He asked if I had any experience with a Macintosh and I told him that I thought I’d eaten a few in my life.  Even then I was a smartass.  Or maybe a dumbass since I didn’t know he was talking about a computer.

He introduced me to the Mac in the upstairs office of the Zephyr and told me they were looking for something from writers on Rail Road Days, which would be taking place the weekend following their second issue.  I went back out to the parking lot, thought for a few minutes, then returned to the Zephyr offices.  I told him that I had something and if I could use their computer, I’d type it up.  Twenty minutes later the story was finished and within a week, I had by very first byline for the Zephyr, a front page story on how I thought the collective geniuses who came up with the idea must have stumbled upon it.

From there for the next year, I think I had a column in almost every issue.  Norm and Todd allowed me to write whatever I wanted, even if it made me look really, really dumb.  When the guys I worked with at the factory found out I was writing for the paper, they’d bring in copies on Thursday nights and sit there hooting and hollering about whatever I’d written. 

Over the years, I’d stop writing for a while, then start again.  I got laid off from Gates, went back to school, graduated from Knox College (even though there are times they don’t claim me), and eventually moved away from the immediate Galesburg area.  A few months ago, Norm started sending the paper to me again after I contacted him asking about some of my old columns (I wanted to include a few of them on my website  The bug bit me hard and here I am again, working for the same pay as when I started. 

I got to thinking about the past twenty years and all that’s happened.  I got to thinking about words and phrases that are commonplace today that didn’t exist back when the Zephyr began. 

The internet wasn’t around back then, at least on a scale that it is today.  Periods were called periods, not dots, and a dot com was probably an acronym for something in the Department of Transportation.  If you’d walked up to someone on the street and asked them about the size of their hard drive, they’d have probably either called the cops or whacked you on your hard drive.  Modem was most likely a long forgotten Latin word that probably had legal connotations (maybe the past tense of modus opperendi?).  Heck, back then, I could still rent movies to watch on my Betamax.

Who knew that 35mm cameras would be obsolete?  Who knew that to communicate, we’d be sending text messages back and forth rather than using a phone for a real voice conversation?  Who knew that Al Gore was going to invent the internet.  Who knew Al Gore?

This all got me to thinking about a column that I wrote but never sent to Norm because I’d have been laughed out of the Burg.  So, here is that column, from all the way back in 1989.



Bodyslams Column for June 31, 1989

I’m putting on my prognosticator cap here and will make some bold predictions for the next quarter century.   Mark my words, you may laugh now, but when any of the following things come true, then I’ll be the one with the smile on my face…


A scandal will rock the White House!  No, President Nixon isn’t going to make a comeback.  Instead, a young intern (female) will perform sexual favors for a sitting president (okay, maybe a standing one). 

George Bush to spend twelve years in the White House.  Go ahead… laugh.  I know as well as you that there is an eight year limit on how long a guy can be President of the United States.  Still, I see Venus lining up with Pluto and Mickey and somehow, someway, George Bush will be the President’s name for 12 of the next 20 or so years.  Then again, maybe it’s Goofy that I’m seeing lined up here….

Two movie stars will follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps to put themselves into the Governor’s Mansion of two separate states.  In fact, I see these two stars coming from the same movie!  Call me a wacko, but I see former pro-wrestler turned actor Jesse the Body Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger, two of the stars of last year’s movie Predator, being elected to the highest office in their states.  Then again, after seeing the movie, maybe that’s not such a bold prediction.

Speaking of entertainment, a TV show set to debut this December will still be on the air well after the turn of the century.  To top that, it will be an animated TV show!  I predict that the name of the show will be The Simpsons.  I further predict that you’ll be able to watch current episodes of Wheel of Fortune with Pat Sajak and Vanna White 20 years in the future.

Within the next 20 years, computers will be commonplace in almost every home.  Their size will shrink and you’ll actually be able to carry said computer under your arm like a notebook and you’ll be able to use it on your laptop.  I don’t have a clue what they’ll be called, but I’ll continue to seek guidance from the stars.

Oh what the heck.  Let me really go out on the limb here.  I predict that we’ll elect our first Black president sometime in the next 20 years as well.   He’ll defeat some old geezer (no, not Reagan) and a woman (no, not Geraldine Ferraro) in the election.

Satellite dishes for TV reception and portable mobile phones will be commonplace.  The dishes will be smaller than the 7 foot diameter models we see dotting the landscape today, and the phones will resemble personal communicators from Star Trek. 

George Lucas will finally finish the trilogy of prequels to Star Wars.  Sylvester Stallone will make nine more Rocky movies (okay, maybe it will only seem like nine) where he defends his Retirement Village Title against either George Foreman or Ronald Reagan.

There will be another gas shortage which will rival the shortage of just 15 years ago in 1974.  After gas hits $5.00 per gallon, there will be plenty of gas.  Prices should level off around a couple bucks per gallon.  Amazingly, gasoline will still be cheaper than bottled water.

The Chicago Cubs will continue to break their fans’ hearts and will not appear in a World Series within the next 20 years.  Then again, neither will my Dodgers.  In fact, I’d bet that the White Sox make it to the Fall Classic before the Cubs do.  I don’t care if they put franchises in Denver and Tampa Bay sometime…. They’ll even make it to the World Series before the Cubs! 

And just so I’ll get at least one of these predictions correct, I predict that either the Governor or a former Governor of Illinois will be brought up on corruption charges of some sort.


Thank you, Norm Winick, for keeping us all on our toes for the past 20 years.  Thanks for entertaining us, thanks for keeping the politicians honest, and thanks for putting up with some of us for the better part of our adult lives.

(By the way, my predictions for the next twenty years are enclosed in the sealed envelope for publication in 2029)

Congratulations, Norm.  Thanks for everything you’ve done!