What surfaces immediately is laughter. I’ve never worked with any body funnier than Barry Tait. We spent so much time laughing at The Journal office, we got a complaint from the then publisher, Judy Stuart. But honestly, Judy, we were working.
Barry was editor and I’d been hired to cover Logan Lake, and Clinton municipal news, attending council meetings in both communities. I spent a lot of time travelling. I’d bring in my copy and Barry made sure it was readable, though his own was often a mystery to some of his readers.
Here’s one prize comment I recall: “If it hasn’t got four legs, forget it.”
Meaning, of course, dogs and horses, the main subject matter of so many of Barry’s editorials and and articles, so many of which were hilarious.
Another, prize comment I’ll never forget, came from Ken Kidder, the illustrious head of the then Board of Trade: “Did you read this article Esther?” pointing a finger at a front pager in The Journal. “I don’t understand a word of it.” I’d seen Barry’s chicken scratches in his notepad, and could well understand why Ken didn’t understand. Neither could I, but it didn’t seem to matter.
Very little of Barry’s humour, as I recall anyway, was at someone else’s expense. He just saw the irony and the humour in most of the goings-on both in municipal and provincial politics. I’d walk into The Journal office and Barry’s nook in the back there facing the front window, and we’d laugh from the time I walked in until I walked out.
Being the editor of course, Barry covered Ashcroft and Cache Creek news. The communities farther flung, I took on. It was a neat part time job for me and provided extra income. I also wrote features, interviewing dozens of persons in my time with The Journal, and writing as many articles about this and that. Barry appreciated me taking that load off his back, I’m sure. But he was not one for compliments. He’d read my stuff, and use it without comment, other than to make some quip about the goings-on in them. Barry’s ability to see the irony in things was the equivalent of a dog with a buried bone – he’d find it one way or the other., and when he did, you’d see it too, and the laughter began.
There was something about the big, burly guy, his crop of thick grey hair covered by a well worn cowboy hat when he was about, that left a very definitive image in the mind. Barry was the archtype small town newspaper editor. You couldn’t mistake him for anyone else. He wore the role like a glove.
Barry couldn’t resist a good line, no matter how unfair it might have been. When a guy named Norman Fowler, accused me of post menopausal something or other, Barry printed it. I still haven’t quite forgiven him for that.
Didn’t I just write that his humour came at no one’s expense? I lied. In that case, it came at mine. But Fowler could be a very funny man, and I wasn’t the only one his merciless pen attacked.
Barry’s imperturbable demeanor, his four square presence at council meetings, always gave the Press a little more authority (I like to think) than some ordinary reporter’s. Barry was never ‘ordinary’ in any sense of the word. You might say, he was extraordinary.
That’s all I’ve got to say about Barry Tait. Well, not quite all. Wherever that ineffable spirit of yours is Barry, I know there’s one heck of a lot of laughter.
Esther Darlington MacDonald