The rise and fall of Stubby

Most of my childhood was spent in a little house in Calhoun, Georgia, on three and a half acres of wooded property. It doesn't seem so big anymore, but when you're knee high to a grasshopper, three and a half acres of pine trees and poison ivy is a wild frontier waiting to be explored.

There was some disagreement, however, on exactly what should be done with this vast wilderness. In the spirit of great American leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, I thought it should be used to build forts and have water balloon fights, and play cowboys and indians. Jamie, however, was of the opinion that our frontier should be settled. She wanted to clear out the underbrush in a suitably flat section of the woods and build a town. Since Jamie was older and taller, we did things her way. Thus, the frontier town of Stubby* came into existence.

As civilization marched on, it dragged me along with it. I have to admit, Stubby was a fairly sophisticated town. It had a reasonable approximation of an economy (with "real" play money), but despite my best efforts, my plan to corner the real estate market and tear the town down never seemed to succeed. It had a population of anywhere from three to ten citizens, depending on how many friends came over to play that day. It even had a fast food joint, a bank, and a church, with real church services (and one rather memorable double wedding, but that's a whole nother pile of blackmail material we won't go into here).

One of the hallmarks of civilization is gossip; no town is complete without at least one newspaper, so Jamie wrote the first issue of "Stubby News" in pencil, on a couple of sheets of notebook paper. Dad took issue no. 1 to his office and made about ten copies, and the rest is history (or absurdity, depending on your point of view).

Remarkably, Stubby survived for quite a few years. At one point, I was even appointed mayor, but I soon learned that was merely a figurehead position, and it didn't afford any real power. (At that point, Jamie was still taller than me.) But as we grew older, Stubby fell into disrepair, and eventually it was abandoned entirely. Stubby News, however, lived on; it acquired a new name ("Character Contemplations") and continued printing news, games, jokes, surveys, and short pieces authored by its readership.

This was about 1996 or 1997, and the internet was gathering steam. "E-zines" were the cool new thing back then, and somehow, Jamie and I decided it would be fun to turn Character Contemplations (or CC mag) into an ezine. So we sketched, argued, slept, argued, coded, argued, re-coded, and argued 'til we somehow managed to cobble together a template that looked halfway decent in Internet Explorer.** We ponied up the $100 required to register cc-mag.com and opened up our ezine.

Alas, cc-mag.com didn't survive very long. A few issues after launch, we decided we had neither the time nor the inclination to continue publishing. Thus, the saga of Stubby came to an official end.

Somewhere in an old dusty closet belonging to the parents of some of Stubby's citizens, there's a stack of issues of Stubby News. Buried at the bottom of the stack, there's an issue from some time in '93 or '94, in which the front page story is a double wedding among Stubby's citizens. Beneath that, there are probably a few pictures of the event. And I'm sure it's all packed neatly into a plain manilla envelope labeled "leverage".

* Stubby was the name of one of our friends' neighbors' horses. Go figure.

** That site was written using css, with absolute positioning for every element. Yes, every element. I was young and foolish (err... younger and more foolish).


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home