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There's one thing I know, but it's not what you'd guess

MIKEL KELLYIt has been suggested a time or two in my life that my most unique personal achievement may very well have been my selection to the Waldport High School Class of ‘65 Senior Hall of Fame as Most Witty Boy.

Oh, sure, I accomplished some other things. I once climbed Mount Hood. I saw the Beatles in concert. And I even won a number of newspaper awards over the years for writing such things as editorials, feature stories and columns.

A far greater accomplishment for me personally was my marriage to my wife — a teenage beauty who agreed to spend eternity with me back in 1967 and who has yet to detect the error of her ways. So at this writing, we are working on our 50th year of wedded bliss. (As I’ve often made clear, I am not allowed to identify her or say too much about her in the newspaper, so she can only be referred to here as The Other Person Who Lives At Our


I have had other minor achievements, of course. I received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy after four years of service — but that was during the Vietnam era when about a million people a week earned that honor. And although I overcame huge odds to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, that too was a milestone reached by many, many others.

I did impress myself (and a couple of close friends) by making the varsity basketball team in high school, but as important as that was to me, it took me until my senior year to pull it off — and not only was it a very small school, but our team had a mediocre win-loss record that year anyway.

I also was a singer and bass player in a rock ‘n’ roll group in the late 1960s — but again, it was hardly a stunning achievement. Our group, the Statix, was only together for only a couple of years, and we never made a record and never appeared outside of Lincoln County, which greatly hurt our chances of ever appearing on “American Bandstand.”

It also may be worth mentioning that I was indeed named to another spot in the Class of 1965’s Senior Hall of Fame: Best Personality. But (A), I did not deserve the title; and (B), I had to share the distinction with my friend Harry Davidson, who truly did have a good personality. Because I was raised by wolves, I didn’t develop an actual personality until reaching maturity, which came many years later.

But few honors have struck me as more meaningful, or appropriate, as my Most Witty Boy title. It’s the thing I remember with fondness when I’ve had a couple drinks too many and my mind wanders off to what might have been. Who knows? Maybe I coulda been a writer for “Saturday Night Live,” or at least for a so-so sitcom.

My friend Kevin, a high-ranking editor at the Portland Tribune, played quarterback for the Roseburg Indians back in the olden days. Roseburg was one of those storied programs with a history of excellence — enough to qualify him to sit around in his sweats on Sunday, watching the Ducks or the Kansas City Chiefs or whoever, and yelling at the TV: “Come on, people, we’ve talked about this before! We all know what happens when we let down our guard in the secondary! How about a little defense?”

I’m no Kevin. I’m not a football expert. I’m not even an expert in journalism, or basketball, or popular music, or politics, or military affairs or even marriage.

But I do know a thing or two about wit. I have wit. My dad had it, and all my brothers do, too. My wife is witty, and most of her family is full of wit. Even Kevin is wittier than the average person. Wit is something I know a thing or two about.

After all, I was Most Witty Boy, dammit! And they’ll never take that away from me.

Mikel Kelly is the former chief of the central design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.