As the proud possessor of four decades of Hipp files, I have spent the entire past week as the Travus whisperer. Two items I found rank among my most precious possessions. The first is a Gold Hill News rate card with my future wife’s handwriting thereon: “Chandler Laughlin. Also does radio talent.” The phone numbers from the 1970s still work.
The other treasure is a handwritten note: “Andy -- IWW App. enclosed, $5.00 To join, $5 per month dues if you work more than $600 per month, $2.00 if you don’t. Leave form and $20 for 1st 1/4 dues & I’ll take them up to Bum ‘Weasel’ Allbender & get your card, pin & songbook, Travus”
The venerable Industrial Workers of the World union, nicknamed The Wobblies, remain very active in these parts. Travus showed up for his share of labor demonstrations.
Without book-length space, there is no way to cover the entire crazy wonderful life of Chandler Atchison Laughlin III. I boiled down his obituary to about 3,000 words at NevadaLabor.com where your remembrances are welcome.
So how to send Travus out? How about with some of his greatest hits.
A young reporter asked me who his heroes were. I drew a blank. The next day, I sent him the name of Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman philosopher who wrote the landmark “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.” (Harper & Row, 1951)
Travus recommended it many times. If you would understand how the world works, read Hoffer.
“Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life,” Hoffer wrote. “People who become like us do not necessarily love us,” Hoffer wrote in “The Ordeal of Change.” (Harper & Row, 1952)
“The impulse of the imitators is to overcome the model they imitate - to surpass it, leave it behind, or, better still, eliminate it completely...The paradox is then that rapid modernization requires a primitivization of the social structure,” Hoffer noted.
Hoffer accurately foreshadowed the rise of Osama bin Laden. Travus was among the few who understood.
In this newspaper in 1982, Gold Hill News publisher David Toll termed Travus “a pig-tailed Paul Revere sounding the alarm.”
He displayed a remarkable consistency. Travus knew who he was and that made him worthy of listening to. He had the stuff of leadership but shunned the role. He never got off that horse at the Old North Church.
“The only political office I want to hold is delegate to the second constitutional convention,” he often said.
So let’s give Travus a rowdy sendoff as he rides into the sunset. Herewith, some of his greatest hits:
• “If voting mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it.”
• “If you’ll notice, the president only lies about things he has to talk about.”
• “Anybody who’s been in Washington more than two semesters is either crooked or an honest man who wasn’t honest enough to come back and tell us the rest of them are crooked, or too dumb to know the difference.”
• “Let political candidates say whatever they want. It’s up to us to sort it out.”
• “Justice needs lawyers like true love needs a pimp.”
• “Social Security is just a federally mandated chain letter and we’re on the end of the chain.”
• “Is it still rape if it only goes in a quarter-inch?” (Commenting on a bit of political “skulduggery of the highest dudgeon!”)
• “Insurance companies are pimps and thieves.”
• “People are too easily arrested for the crime of skulking with intent to lurk.”
• “Just because there are chains rattling in the dungeon doesn’t mean you can call the castle Disneyland.” (Commenting on conditions at the Sparks Mental Health Institute.)
• “Peace, love and spare change didn’t work. There’s no such thing as spare change, love ain’t free and peace is something you’re going to have to fight for.”
• “It’s better to be a large frog.”
• To a caller starting an Elvis fan club: “What do you do, get together every couple of weeks and take pills?”
• “It’s all true, friends, just some’s truer than others.”
One longtime reporter for a major metropolitan Nevada newspaper wrote that “he was one of the smartest people I have encountered, pothead or not. If he could have somehow gotten on a big time radio talk show network, I believe he would be nationally famed.”
In 1968, he made $22,000. Adjusted for inflation, that becomes $145,456.03 in today’s dollars. But he wouldn’t cut his hair, wear a suit or just shut up and go corporate.
Alas, there’s a price to pay for having a set of convictions that are not only rock hard but on display with neon lights around them.
“He lives humbly,” my wife once wistfully said.
Such was the life of my very principled friend, Travus T. Hipp.
On a Santa Cruz area blog, one Grady James wrote “I will continue to listen for your new signal.”
Oh, won’t we all.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano was a colleague of Travus in print and on the air. Hipp, 75, died on May 18. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail email@example.com.