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185 If ever a guy felt like eating crow, Dewey John did when Andy Meyer called and said that Harlow was permanently closing down the pickle factory in Link Lake and would no longer buy cucumbers from small acreage growers. The editorial he had written defending Harlow for both the spot-rot situation and the preacher debacle now seemed a huge mistake. He was going to be mighty embarrassed when people read about the factory closing. He remembered what the owner of the paper said to him when he was first hired as editor: “Dewey, you’ve got to find the big story before you can write the little one; you’ve got to know what else is going on in the woods before you can write about the trees.” It had taken him a while to figure out what his new boss was talking about, but he had it right. He’d said, “If you’re going to write about farms and farming, you’d better learn about rural communities, what holds them together and makes them work. You’d better study country people, what they’re like and what keeps them going. And you’d better find who’s trying to manipulate them.” 24 What Next? Dewey wanted to get on the phone to young H. H. Harlow III and give him a piece of his mind—let him know what he was doing to the small family farms in Ames County. But then he reminded himself that he was a newspaperman and wasn’t supposed to take sides, except in his editorials. Andy had also told Dewey John about J. W. Johnson being fired. Dewey decided to give Johnson a call and get his take on the story. When he asked Johnson what he thought about Harlow’s decision to close the pickle factory and fire the district managers, Johnson let loose a string of cuss words that you could hear all the way to Oshkosh. Johnson figured he had been wronged in every way. “That bastard Harlow didn’t understand my job.” Dewey thanked him for his thoughts and hung up, shaking his head. Sometimes one has to take the tiger by the tail, so Dewey John next called the Harlow Pickle Company phone number in Green Bay. He was put on hold for a few minutes, and then Mr. Henry H. Harlow III came on the line. Dewey told him he was with the Link Lake Gazette and wondered if Harlow had time to answer a few questions about the Harlow Company’s recent decision. “Sure,” Harlow said. He sounded friendly enough. “Fire away.” “Why did you close the little pickle factory here in Link Lake? It’s been here since the 1930s.” “Yes, it sure has. It’s one of our oldest little factories—really just a salting station, you know; they don’t do any processing beyond salting. It’s just too out of date. The equipment is old. The salting tanks are worn out. It’s not profitable to keep it going.” “Any other reasons for closing it?” The editor was fishing for whether or not the bad publicity about spot rot and the preacher affair had anything to do with the company’s decision. 186 What Next? 187 What Next? “No. It’s all based on economics. We’re building a new modern processing plant in Green Bay. We’ll not only salt, but we’ll make dills, slicers, pickles for the restaurant trade—and we even plan to make kosher dills. The demand is growing for kosher dill pickles, you know.” “When’s your new plant opening?” John asked, trying to put some kind of positive spin on the story. “We hope to be up and running in the spring, in plenty of time for next summer’s processing season. I could arrange a special tour of the plant for you—I’ll let you know when it’s finished.” Dewey said he would enjoy a tour. He continued his questioning . “What about your decision to buy only from growers with twenty acres or more of cucumbers? You realize that farm kids with little cucumber patches depend on that money every summer.” “The board discussed that at length. It was a tough decision to make. It created a lot of disappointment, I’m sure.” “I’m afraid you don’t know the half of it,” Dewey replied, trying not to sound too angry. “The quality coming from those little...


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MARC Record
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