Excerpts from Summer 1959 Edition
Happiness is a many-sided form of contentment. It is a thermometer with many degrees of intensity. In a joyful environment it will reach the top with peals of laughter and skin-stretching smiles. In a quiet surrounding, it will touch the bottom, glowing quietly around tired eyes.
Happiness can be the exhausting contentment of a sought-after goal or the thank-goodness feeling of handing in a Spanish book at the end of the year. It can be a noble or little feeling. It is found in the burning of crackling fall leaves and in a sip of hot coffee on a cold night — it can be very subtle. It is found in a rumbling football game or a circus or a slumber party. It can be very evident. It comes when it wants to come. You can't force it with a fake smile or a raw laugh. It comes and goes like the wind moving a leaf — it will pick you up, raise you in the air and then abandon you in an iron fence. It always leaves its memory.
Eight o'clock...The hours passed all too quickly for him. The deputy had told him that it would be the longest night of his life, but Billy Paul was wishing that the sun would never rise. Whdn the sun rose tomorrow, Billy would hang for the murder of Myers Brown, an itinerant cowboy, whom he had killed on the basis of a snap judgement.
Billy's father, Curtis Paul, was the wealthiest man in the county. His ranch was the largest, most productive spread in the state. For over forty years the Paul name had been known throughout Broken Ridge County as the symbol of honor and prosperity, and now it was being smeared with the stain of murder.
Mr. Paul had hired the best lawyers in the West to represent Billy at the trial, but despite all their efforts to save him, Billy was sentenced to hang when the sun rose on Friday, March the thirteenth, 1878.
It all started just three weeks ago when Billy went into town to pick up the groceries. It was a beautiful Saturday morning; the air was cool and the sky was a rich, cornflower blue. He was just loading the last box of groceries onto the wagon when he heard a shrill feminine scream. He turned around just in time to see his sweetheart, Ginny Lu Baxter, lying on the ground; and standing over her with a hammer in his hand was Myers Brown.
Without thinking, Billy pulled out his gun and shot Brown before he had a chance to move. To Billy it looked as though Brown had pushed Ginny Lu into the street and was about to hit her with the hammer. In reality, Ginny Lu had caught her skirt on a nail along the sidewalk and, had tripped into the street. Myers Brown had been standing there putting up a sign for his new employer, Mr. Dassler, the editor of the town newspaper; and when Ginny Lu had fallen, he had bent over to help her; then Billy shot him.
Eleven o'clock... Billy was beginning to curse the day when his father had given him that gun. It was his sixteenth birthday; he remembered it well.
Twelve o'clock...The moon was up now, and he could hear the coyotes singing their hearts out while Billy was eating his heart out.
Three o'clock...The wind was beginning to blow and the sky was getting cloudy. The moon was no longer visible. The night now seemed more dreary than ever, and Billy began to weep.
Five o'clook ... It was raining now. Billy began to think of his family and Ginny Lu. "What will she do after I'm gone?" he asked himself.
Eight o'clock.. As he walked down the street toward the gallows with the deputy, Billy saw Ginny Lu standing in the crowd with his parents. Tears were streaming down her face as he climbed the stairs to the platform. The noose was fitted around his neck,and Billy was given the last rites of the church by Reverend Mitchell. As the trap door opened beneath him and his body plunged toward the ground with the rope around his neck, Billy's last thought was of his dog Dusty. "I hope Mother remembers to feed Dusty tonight."
The sun never did rise that day; it rained from morning till night.