I became reacquainted with attorney Gerry Spence during the Randy Weaver trial in Boise, Idaho.
During the horrific debacle at Ruby Ridge, I was living and working just inside the reception area of television and radio on the high plains desert of southwestern Idaho.
Not being one to rely on the sound bites of any media outlet, I listened to the shortwave radio each night and spoke with my gray area friends who lived in or near Bonner County, Idaho.
When the tragedy was over, I, along with the rest of the country, learned Mr. Weaver’s trial was going to be in Boise. I thought this would be a good time to remind Mr. Spence of our former meeting and ask him sign my collection of his books.
Of course, this was going to take a bit of planning.
I had to service my “71” International truck — I’ve always loved old trucks. I needed to pick three or four days during the week that I could fish my way there, get the books signed, and still spend a day fishing the south fork of the Boise River before heading home.
You know when you’re building a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and you put just enough peanut butter on and just a little too much jelly, then you squeeze the bread together and nothing squirts out the sides?
That’s a perfect sandwich and that’s how this trip started.
I fished the Snake River, parts of Fall Creek and Anderson Ranch Reservoir as I headed to the City of Trees, Boise, Idaho.
When I got into the city, I parked my old truck in the state capital parking lot, threw an old press pass on the dashboard to keep from being towed and headed to the federal building a few blocks away.
It never occurred to me to listen to the radio in the truck or even to pick up a copy of the Boise papers to see how the trial was going. Hell, I’d combined a fishing trip with a book signing, so what could go wrong?
When I got to the federal building, the media dogs were mingling amongst themselves waiting for a bone, so I leaned up against a tree, book bag beside me, in direct view of the front doors so I could spot Mr. Spence when he left the building.
After about 20 minutes or so, a young man in a T-shirt and shorts sat beside me and asked if I was waiting for Randy Weaver.
“Nope,” I said. “I’ve come all this way for Gerry Spence.”
It was just a bit later when Mr. Spence and his entourage started out of the building. I jumped to my feet and quickly started walking towards the forming mob, yelling “Gerry Spence, Gerry Spence.”
I reached into my book bag to wave a book at him, when members of every law enforcement agency known to mankind tackled me on that grassy little island that separates the one-way traffic in and out of the parking lot.
Mr. Spence and his gaggle of associates slowed long enough for Mr. Spence to look down, recognize me and say, “Pinedale, Wyoming, right?”
“Yes, sir,” I managed to get my mouth to say.
“I worry about you, son,” he said, smiling at me still pinned to the grass.
Hey, you be careful out there and stay to the light.
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