An art project has stirred thoughts of my college days.
I’m working on a project in which a bowling pin is my canvas. I’m to paint and decorate this bowling pin with a holiday theme; later, it will be auctioned for charity.
The good people who asked me to do this believe someone will pay money for my work and I hope that’s true, for the sake of the nonprofit.
But the money-raising potential of this bowling pin isn’t what’s on my mind as I sit at my desk, writing and taking note of the pin from the corner of my eye.
The pin reminds me of Leskie Pinson, whom I barely knew when we were studying journalism at Marshall University. Leskie died of an illness in 2005 and his legacy is, in a small way, a bowling pin.
I don’t know how it started, but it was called “winning a Leskie.” He sneaked up behind people who were engrossed in the story they were writing and placed a bowling pin behind the writer’s chair. When the writer moved his or her chair, the pin clacked to the ground as if it were striking the wood of an alley and writers’ reactions ranged from puzzled to unnerved.
What I remember most about Leskie is his work on Weekly World News, a tabloid known for headlines like “Bat Boy Will Be The Next Pope,” “God Particle Found in New Jersey” and “Confirmed: World Will End Oct. 21, 2012.”
My husband knew Leskie because they attended the same high school. We thought it was an odd coincidence we both knew him, so when an episode of the old MTV show “The Real World” took its teams to Weekly World News, we had to watch it. “Maybe we’ll see Leskie,” I said.
An even odder coincidence: Leskie was one of the full-time employees of the mostly fictional publication who coached teams on how to write for his publication. He got quite a bit of on-air time.
We were transfixed, seeing someone we both knew appear on television. Leskie was a natural, too, coaching young people in the craft we learned together — well, sort of. We learned the same tools, but he certainly used those tools differently. I bet it was fun to make up crazy stories. It was a perfect job for a guy who turned a bowling pin into a prize.
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