Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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December 11, 2017


Why do people choose to be victims?
This column first appeared in December 2017

By now you know the drill. It's Saturday morning. The office is closed, doors locked. The place is dark. And quiet. It's my favorite time of the week because I tend to get a lot done.
That was exactly the scenario and I was deep in paperwork when-
"Boo!"
There are specific moments in life when things become crystal clear. It was in that moment that I was certain I was in the beginning stages of a massive heart attack. My vision clouded. I lost my breath. My chest pounded. I was afraid to check my pants.
"FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, JOHN!"
He was giggling. Actually giggling. John the incredible hulk Hammer giggling?
Sigh.


Pursuing happiness and hammers
This article first appeared in November 2017

A man much older and wiser than me once told me I had the most diverse taste in music of anyone he knew. From the Oak Ridge Boys to the Archies, from Bobby Darrin to Jerry Reed, from Janis Joplin to Donna Summer, from the Andrews Sisters to ZZ Top . . . truth to tell, there aren't many types of music I don't like - at least a little. Shucks, I even told my better half that it'd be kind of cool to have bagpipes at my funeral - a response which went over about as well as, uh, well, bagpipes playing.
At any rate, we had just seen the new Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok and I had Led Zeppelin's classic Immigrant Song playing at a level the good folks at Beltone wouldn't have been happy with. It was just me, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and -
"HOLY CRAP!"
John Hammer, a ginormous man with hands the size of ham hocks, was suddenly standing in my doorframe - the entire doorframe. I hadn't heard him come in.


Hammer on patience? You bet!
This column first appeared in October 2017

"So you're a grandfather now, Timmons?"
The rich, deep bass could only belong to one man. Yet John Hammer did not boom out his greeting as usual and scare me half to death in the process. Perhaps now that he and I are in that special fraternity together he was going to be kinder?
"Thanks for not sneaking up on me and giving me a heart attack, John," I said, feeling a warm connection to the giant of a man.
"I'm not moving too fast," he rumbled. "Think I'm coming down with something."
So much for brotherhood.


Scalding coffee isn't only thing that hurts
This article first appeared in July 2017

There's a lot of reasons I love our new location. The first is that I love history. After all, how cool is it to work in a building that was built in 1910 (well, part of it was the Old Central School and was put up in 1873) when Ulysses S. Grant and William Howard Taft respectively were leading the country as presidents? Even better, a year after the doors opened, CHS won the very first Indiana boys basketball state championship.
These are the things I think about every time I walk into this building.
Alas, once inside I tend to get busier than a barista at an all-night chess tournament. History is forgotten and like a lot of you I roll up my shirt sleeves and get to it. It's also why I love Saturday mornings. The pace is a little slower. I get those old records off the shelf and, while I still get things done, enjoy the day a little more.
So it was the other Saturday morning. Bob Seeger was accurately pointing out that today's music ain't got the same soul as the songs we grew up with. I was pouring another cup of steaming hot coffee when-
"You in here, Timmons?" the deep bass rumble that is John Hammer boomed.
It was hard to answer. I wasn't sure what was worse, the peeling skin on my fingers from where the coffee was scalding me or the fact that my heart decided to start rocking to the beat Seeger was pounding out.


Hammer on future of US of A
This column first appeared in June 2017

Since we moved into the historic Athena Center a few weeks ago, it's crossed my mind once or thrice that my buddy John Hammer hasn't been by on a Saturday morning. I swear I was just thinking this (on a Saturday morning, no less) when the phone rang.
"Where the hell are you, Timmons?" the gravel-laced voice of a man called Hammer boomed.
I smiled.
"S'matter, John? Haven't kept up on the news? We moved almost a month ago."
Got to admit, I took a little satisfaction in that.
"I know you've moved Timmons," Hammer said. So much for satisfaction. "I'm at Athena. Where are you?"
How does Hammer always manage to stay ahead of me?


Someone hammers point home
This column first appeared in March 2017

One minute I was singing at the top of my lungs about wild, wicked women of the west with the Wright Brothers Overland Stage Company. Next thing I knew I was hyperventilating and hoping the heavy pounding in my ears was from the bass in the speakers and not my heart.
John Hammer, the behemoth of a man, had once more managed to find his way into our closed office on a Saturday morning without making a sound. You don't suppose Sen. Phil Boots gave him a key, do you? That Sen. Boots has some sense of humor.


Hammer has questions
This column first appeared in May 2016

The older I get, the more easily I find myself becoming distracted. I'll start on one task, switch to another, get interrupted and then go on to something else entirely different. A while later - might be an hour, might be a week - I'll wonder what happened to that first task I was working on.
It's why I love Saturday mornings at the worldwide HQ of the media empire your little-newspaper-that-could has grown into. Things are quiet. The only interruption is when I am forced to belt out a tune when my playlist hits an oldie but goodie and I just can't stop myself.


Hammer ghost of Christmas lost?
This column first appeared in December 2015

No, I wasn't going to sneak up on him and completely turn the tables, but I decided to pay John Hammer a visit instead of the other way around.
As I pulled up, I noticed the house was what you might expect, modest but well maintained. It reminded me a lot of my grandparents' house. After he retired from farming in the 1960s, my grandpa used the proceeds from the auction (two tractors, one combine, a grain truck and a little bit of land) to buy a house in town. I remember that it seemed small, and said so. I also remember being sternly told that it had a good roof, indoor plumbing, a garage out back with space to work and a modern kitchen. The look that came with the words said even more.


Hammer tired of all the talk
This column first appeared in December 2015

Have you ever been so engrossed in something that you more or less zoned out, oblivious to any and all around you? That was me the other day. Sitting at my desk, pondering life's great mysteries - like what the hell happened to the Colts Sunday and exactly what form the apocalypse will take if zoning is ever adopted in Montgomery County?
"Where you been, Timmons?" John Hammer asked, seemingly out of nowhere.
I must've looked like the cartoon cat. One minute on the floor and the next dangling from the ceiling.


Hammer hits lessons of self-reliance
This column first appeared in November 2015

Sometimes our little newspaper that could does political endorsements, sometimes we don't. The key is whether or not we legitimately have information to share that we believe relevant and important. With some recent changes in staff, we didn't feel like we had enough pertinent information to share this time around so we decided to hold off on endorsing any candidate.
In the spirit of transparency and sharing, I was planning on writing a little bit about how all this works.


What color was dress? Don't ask Hammer
This column first appeared in March 2015

I was walking through the darkened front office area here at the worldwide headquarters of your favorite Montgomery County newspaper. It was mid-afternoon on a Saturday and for some reason, John Hammer popped in my head. It'd been a few weeks since I talked to him and as I pushed the button for the elevator it dawned on me that I made it through a Saturday without him scaring the bajeebers out of me.
Normally, the big man just shows up unannounced. No idea how he gets in. The doors are locked and we're on the third floor of a building with a bank, for crying out loud. As the doors started to slide open I was just putting some serious thought into how he-
My nose ran straight into a massive hulk.
"Timmons," the Hammer nodded.
"Jumping Jiminy Crickets, John!" I yelled.


Hammer goes deep; Timmons, not so much
This column first appeared in February 2015

I might've mentioned once or thrice that Saturdays are my favorite days in the office. Things are quiet. I flip on what amounts to my eclectic taste in music and I usually get a lot done.
The musical variety goes from Bobby Darin to Uriah Heep. It usually gets loud - the definition of "loud" varies quite a bit from my twentysomething daughters to me. So there I was, singing right along . . . Jenny Diver, oh, Sukey Tawdry. Hello Miss Lot of Lender, and ol' Lucy Brown . . . I was in particularly good voice and even better spirits.


Hammer's a poet? (If you can call this stuff poetry!)
This column first appeared in December 2014

'Twas the week after Christmas and the stores were all quiet.
The contrast was striking from the week before riot.
The stockings are packed away for a year,
In hopes that the shoppers will always stay near.

The politicians were counting our money to spend,
On sugar plums and silliness on a parking lot mend.
The voters had settled in for a year
And prayed they wouldn't get kicked in the rear.


Hammer takes road less traveled
This column first appeared in December 2014

Usually, John Hammer drops in to see me on Saturdays. The big man somehow bypasses security at the worldwide HQ of the media empire and always seems to catch me unawares. I think it gives him some sort of perverse pleasure to know he manages to scare the bajeebers out of me. So I was more than a little surprised when he came in on a Thursday, rang the bell at our front desk and waited.
For those who don't know, the Hammer stops by infrequently. He's a mountain-sized man who's not big on small talk. His hands are the size of hams and the rough callouses indicate he's done honest work for a living. He may be a man of few words, but what he says generally makes good sense. Aside from hoping I never make him mad at me, it's almost always a pleasure to hear what's on his mind.
"Timmons," he nodded in a voice that's rougher than a five-alarm hangover on a Monday morning.
"John," I nodded back. "Want to come back to the office and take a load off?"
"No, this won't take long," he said. "Been watching and paying attention to this holiday shopping. I'm seeing how a lot of places want you to buy your presents from their websites . . . and that got me to thinking. About roads."
Roads?


Hammer time on instant information
This column first appeared in November 2014

I was answering e-mails Saturday. In an earlier column I mentioned that I had four regular readers. Imagine my pleasant surprise when several e-mails pointed out that I was being too modest. Heck, there just might be as many as eight, maybe nine of you out there!
Thank-you notes seemed appropriate. But since I'm too cheap to buy a stamp when an e-mail will do, I was busily pecking away at the keyboard . . . and didn't notice John Hammer walking in until his shadow blotted out the sun. I didn't know if we were experiencing an eclipse or if my eyesight was going.


Hold the obit, newspapers aren't dead yet!
This column first appeared in September 2014

I really used to enjoy working Saturday mornings. The office is quiet with no one else around and I can turn on a little music, turn it up a tad if I feel like it and get things done. But somehow John Hammer manages to find a way in and tends to show up when I least expect it. For someone with a weak bladder, that's not necessarily a good thing.
So I came up with a solution. I shut my door. No need to worry about working away and suddenly, boom, there he is. No singing along with the music and he appears out of nowhere. I love it when little solutions work out well.
So it was that I was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning. I had about half my to-do list checked off and needed to take a quick bathroom break. I opened the door and my nose just about ran into the middle of John Hammer's double extra large chest. I wasn't sure what stopped first, my nose or heart. I also wasn't sure if I still needed a bathroom break or not.


Hammer gets something off his chest
This column first appeared in July 2014

It was a Saturday morning and the outer office was deserted and dark. My light was on and the speakers - and my voice - were cranked up. The Ides of March, a one-hit wonder from 1970, and I were teaming up on a loud version of Vehicle.
"I'm the friendly stranger in the black sedan, won't you-"
"Timmons!"
"Son of a . . . Damn, John! How in the world do you get up here?" I stammered, reaching for the volume knob on the speaker. "It's not like my heart's in great shape anyways. You're going to-"
"Why's the county raising my taxes again?" he asked.


Hammer gives history lesson
This column first appeared in March 2014

Somewhere around '71 or so Grand Funk released an album that has always been one of my favorites. So forgive me that on a deserted Saturday morning I was sitting in my office with the volume maybe a bit louder than should have been. Hey, when you've got pretty much the whole third floor of the world-wide headquarters to yourself it's OK to let your hair down a little - at least what little hair I have left.


Hammer nails government bailouts
This column first appeared in March 2010

"Hey Timmons, you ever heard of the Townsend Plan?"
I jumped, first because I was hard at work going over the shambles that was my NCAA bracket and didn't notice the big hulk of a man standing in my doorway. I jumped second because when The Hammer talks it sounds a little like work boots walking across a gravel road, rough.
"Hi John," I said, closing the computer screen. "Not sure. Wasn't that some old coot who wanted to give the elderly a hundred bucks a month or something back when FDR was in office?"

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer brings back TV sign offs
This column first appeared in January 2014

I like the people I work with. Actually, we've had some really great folks since we started back in 2004. But in our 10th year, I can't imagine a better group from top to bottom than the folks we have now. You've heard the saying about who'd you like to have with you in a foxhole? Well, this is the group I'd choose.
That said . . . it's still kind of nice on Saturday mornings. The place is quiet. I can turn on some music at my desk and even play it a little loudly. Little Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Traffic . . . my musical tastes vary and on Saturdays, heck, I can even sing along. The office is quiet, dark and deserted - much like my singing voice.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer has an idea . . . sort of
This column first appeared in October 2013

I saw him this time. It was another quiet Saturday in the office and I was trying to figure out a tough answer to a tough problem - 22 across on the crossword. A large shadow in the dimly lit hallway caught my eye. I figured Bigfoot had left the Ozarks or Appalachians or wherever he had last been seen or else it had to be John Hammer.
"Morning, Timmons," the Hammer growled. He had a voice that sounded like sandpaper rolling over a piece of bark.
"John," I nodded back.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer weighs in on gay marriage
This column first appeared in August 2013

I hate how John Hammer can sneak up on me. One minute it's a quiet Saturday morning in a fairly deserted office and then next I'm jumping high enough to make America's Funniest Home Videos. Not a good thing for a guy with a heart condition.
Truth to tell, it had been a while since I had seen my friend, the Hammer. In fact, several readers had asked when they were going to read about him again. So when he showed up Saturday morning, abnormally quiet for such a large man, he was a welcome sight . . . sort of.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer asks what the hell is going on?
This column first appeared in May 2013

There was no surprise this time, no jump when he surprised me by filling up my door frame. Big ol' John Hammer entered my office with a knock and a nod. He barely fit in the chair when he sat.
I was immediately suspicious.
John Hammer is an infrequent visitor to The Paper and usually has a gripe he wants to air. For some reason he thinks telling me will make a difference. Apparently he overestimates the media.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer nails big media
This column first appeared in February 2013

Saturday mornings are my favorite time in the office. Other than just a few folks coming and going, it's pretty quiet. The lights in the outer office are off and the phone isn't ringing. I can get a lot done in less time than it usually takes.
Quiet, peaceful, productive. So it was last Saturday and I was buried in paperwork. I was also noticing that either my eyes aren't what they used to be or these reports are in smaller type. I was squinting, more or less boring a hole in this sheet of paper-
"Timmons!"
I nearly jumped out of my seat. I swear when I looked up and saw John Hammer filling up my doorframe there was a hint of a smile on his face. I'm starting to think he sneaks up here on purpose.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer digs deep with message
This column first appeared in September 2012

It's usually weeks or even months in between the times I run into John Hammer, or rather he runs into me. The big hulk of a man doesn't come across as the type of guy who's out on the town very often. In fact, he's always reminded me a little of Big John from the Jimmy Dean song.
And since we just talked a week or two ago, I didn't expect to see him again for a while. So when he showed up at my office early last Saturday it was a surprise.
"Digging ditches," he started out.
"Huh?" came my witty reply.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

We don't do enough for veterans
This column first appeared in November 2011

I hadn't seen my friend the Hammer for a few months and was starting to wonder if he was doing alright when his big frame filled up my doorway.
"Timmons, how 'ya been?" he asked in a voice as rough as 12-grit sandpaper.
"Fine John. Haven't seen you in a while."
"Been busy."
He was looking at me. I at him. The silence was a bit awkward.
"So, what brings you around today, John?"
"Been thinkin'."
Pause.
This wasn't going to be an easy conversation.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

John Hammer drags Timmons back
This column first appeared in February 2011

"So, where the hell have you been, Timmons?"
I can't explain how John Hammer creeps up on me. He's bigger than a tree house and has a voice that could echo from Alamo to Linden. Despite his size, he's constantly catching me off guard.
"I've been working," I answered. "What've you been up to?"
"How come you haven't been writing your column?" he asked, ignoring my question.
"Well, it's been a busy time and there's been-"
"Nobody knows what the word sacrifice means anymore," he interrupted.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer drops by before summer ends
This column first appeared in September 2010

"Front porches."
I jumped. It was a quiet early morning and the sun hadn't peeked over the buildings on the north side of West Main. I thought I was the only one in the office and was enjoying the quiet and getting some work done. John Hammer, my friend of recent years, was standing in the doorway, his massive bulk taking up most of the frame. It amazed me how such a big man could be so quiet.
"Well, G'morning John," I said. "I didn't hear you walk in."
"Front porches," he repeated.
When John Hammer had a point to make, small talk was worthless.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hammer pays return visit
This column first appeared in February 2009

A few weeks ago, we were introduced to a new friend, John. A mountain of a man who also goes by the nickname "Hammer," he had cornered me and was pointing out that we're losing jobs right here in River (or at least Sugar Creek) City and that he doesn't see a whole lot of the official types doing much about it.
Well, he's back. Fortunately for MCED, the chamber and others, he's moved on from his gripes with them. This time he's hot to trot over our beloved government in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

World, meet John Hammer
This column first appeared in January 2009

I was having coffee at one of our local downtown shops and checking out what Honest Hoosier said in my favorite Montgomery County daily. The day was cold outside but the coffee was hot and plenty of friends were passing by.
A great way to spend a little time.
The door opened and a cold wind blew across the back of my neck. I turned and took in a large hunk of a man. He stood at least 6-6 and tipped the scales on the north side of 300.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

New website benefits all taxpayers
Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about public notice advertising, or what's commonly referred to as legal advertisements.

In short, state law requires government units to show you where your taxes are being spent. It's a nice way to ensure that the fox is not guarding the henhouse and it certainly allows each one of us to see exactly where the money goes.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Save CCC golf course . . . from him
When I worked in South Bend, there was this little 9-hole course on the campus of Notre Dame. The course had been there for decades and the story goes that Knute Rockne, the legendary Irish football coach used to play there. Heck, I had to play that course.
Thursday, September 05, 2013

There are stories behind the numbers
A newspaper study said that a bit more than half the people who read a newspaper do so for the advertisements. The publisher in me relishes that. The old newspaper editor in me cringes. What? You all aren't buying The Paper to read every word we write?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Plan backfires baldly, uh, er, badly
I thought I had him.

David Johnson, the executive director of MUFFY and a guy with a really full head of hair, had somehow talked me into coming out of "non-profit retirement" and running this year's MUFFY drive campaign. He's so smooth, he even had me thinking it was my idea. That's OK, I had a plan.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Writing talent almost was lost
Ginger Truitt, a newspaper columnist whose work can be found in The Paper of Montgomery County, shouldn't need anyone to confirm for her the high quality of her writing. A little validation never hurts though.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Indiana has lost two Hoosier legends
They were not men who won wars. They weren't known as sports world champions. Neither discovered a miracle cure for a dreaded disease. But in the recent past, Hoosiers have lost a couple of well-known and much-loved individuals.
Thursday, September 05, 2013

Let's start celebrating July 4 a little early
Happy 237th!

The grand, ol' U.S. of A. turns 237 Thursday. While much of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County celebrates another holiday - including your favorite Montgomery County Daily - it seemed a good time to share some 4th of July tidbits.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Journalism ain't what it used to be
There's no doubt the world of information has changed. Some was inevitable. The fact that people now share electronic news flashes to detail what they had for breakfast is evidence of that. But when did basic journalistic rules get tossed out the window?
Thursday, September 05, 2013

Hammer asks about gay marriage
I hate how John Hammer can sneak up on me. One minute it's a quiet Saturday morning in a fairly deserted office and then next I'm jumping high enough to make America's Funniest Home Videos. Not a good thing for a guy with a heart condition.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


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