We have a saying here at The Mercury, or at least among those of us who've been around a few decades. "There's something in the walls ..."
We use it to describe our penchant for odd news, our conglomeration of interesting personalities, and even our two Pulitzers.
For a newspaper this ordinary in a town this small to behave in the extraordinary ways we do sometimes ... well, it must be something in the walls.
On Wednesday morning about 11 a.m., that special something took a direct hit.
Our beloved recently retired sports editor Don Seeley died after being stricken while playing golf.
Seeley, who was 62, retired in March after 32 years covering sports at The Mercury, the past 14 years as sports editor. He continued to write for us as a free-lancer covering girls softball this spring and on Tuesday night, covering alongside current sports editor Austin Hertzog the first PAC-10 Boys Lacrosse Senior Bowl game.
It was the last event Seeley would cover.
At about the same time, the newsroom was being stricken as well.
Editors here describe that about 11 a.m. they heard a "popping" noise and sizzling coming from inside the walls. A burning smell came next, and the desktop computers went blank -- on the side of the room and just behind the desk which Seeley occupied for years and which remains vacant.
I was out of town when these two incidents coincided, and upon returning here Wednesday night to edit and supervise the putting together of stories and photos paying tribute to my dear friend, I saw the wall ripped open just behind his former desk, the wiring inside exposed and damaged.
When Seeley retired, I was glad his words would remain with our readers, as he was continuing to write for us. I was glad, too, that he still had plenty of reasons to pester me about one thing or another. My sadness at the loss of both is profound.
I am not usually looking for hidden meanings when odd things happen, but today's message was pretty clear.
Something inside the walls of this newsroom was damaged today. We lost one of our own, one of our best.
RIP Don Seeley