Storytelling at its best, and its most unpleasant

Monday, June 15, 2015

Congratulations to everyone involved in this year's Buffalo Commons Storytelling and Music Festival.

It was gratifying to see the Gazette's founder, Harry Strunk recognized as the leader -- and character -- that he was.

And, it is gratifying to see music continuing to be integrated into the festival, recognizing music as the effective storytelling medium it is.

Congratulations as well to Herndon on its Quinquennial Ox Roast, a major undertaking for a small town, even if it's only once every five years, and to Palisade for another successful Pioneer Days.

It's an infamous story, but don't expect a new book about two local 1973 murders to be a pleasant summertime read.

"In Cold Storage, Sex and Murder on the Plains," by retired Lincoln lawyer, James W. Hewitt, offers more details, and raises more questions, about the murders of Wilma and Edwin Hoyt, the crime for which Harold Nokes will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Gazette and larger newspapers and other media outlets covered the murders extensively after they occurred 40 years ago, but the scars are still fresh for family members and friends of those involved.

The book offered new insight into the possible courthouse politics involved in the case, and the way the controversial death of Ida Fitzgibbons a few months earlier, not to mention the cost to the counties, affected the disposition of the Nokes case.

We question the author's contention that his 2007 interview was the only one Harold Nokes granted following his sentencing; we recall that the late Gazette editor Jack Rogers conducted an interview after the defendant requested him specifically.

The nature of the 1973 murders still makes them newsworthy all these years later, but only if their retelling provides a cautionary tale that helps prevent future generations from falling victim to the human shortcomings that caused them to occur.

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