Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In search of an island where the population is zero

Our study group has concluded its deliberations now and is ready to move into the action phase of our program.
Which means that from now on it’s all work and no play as we look to the future to see what, if anything, that may hold.
The possibility that the future may hold nothing at all, or that it may be bleak beyond description, depends on how you look at it. To my brother and me the future is dotted with possibilities – mixed with uncertainty.
The lady of the house maintains that she wants nothing to do with the entire venture and sees no reason to change her mind.
What we have been studying – the three of us – is a trip to an exotic island. Exotic may be the wrong word. Let’s just call it an island unencumbered by a modifier. It is an island we had never heard of until my brother saw a program on the Travel Channel having to do with the disappearance of a certain Mrs. Putnam.
She has been gone since July 1937. She vanished over water, as did Glenn Miller, one of the greatest orchestra leaders of all time and the person who immortalized Jimmy Stewart, who portrayed him in the film, “The Glenn Miller Story.”
I have often compared Glenn Miller with Paul Brown – in different fields of endeavor, of course.
Their greatness was apparent in the fields of popular music and professional football. We have had enough to say here about Brown in the last couple weeks. As for Miller and Jimmy Stewart, let us just be reminded of the classic words of Steve Allen, who once noted: “Yes sir, folks, there’s only one Al Jolsen, and that’s Larry Parks.”
To which I would add: “There was only one Benny Goodman, and that was Steve Allen.”
And, of course: “There was only one Glenn Miller, and that was Jimmy Stewart.”
If you don’t get it, I must not be making myself clear. Let us just say there are clear connections to the clear-minded among us.
Which brings us back to Miller and Mrs. Putnam, and the recurring thought many have expressed that, somehow, some way, they may be together.
Because, you see, they both disappeared over water, even though he disappeared over the English Channel while she found her watery grave someplace in the Pacific Ocean.
(I have not brought Adolf Hitler into this discussion because I do not care to, in spite of the fact that the three of them have been linked in conversations about missing persons, which I personally think is ridiculous because he was an evil man. But I digress.)
If you think this discussion may be coming to a boil, it is because you may have suspected all along who Mrs. Putnam might be, and you have possibly shouted out the name by which she is better known.
The news reports referred to her and her navigator as Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.  I am not prepared to speak about Fred’s credentials as a navigator. All I’m saying is that if he had done a better job of navigating, the Travel Channel wouldn’t have been doing a program on the island, which was not their actual, planned destination but which may have been the place where they wound up.
It is that island which has been the focal point of our study group for lo, these many months, and there is a good chance you have never heard of it, so get a pen and a piece of paper and write it down so you will not lose it.
I will wait.
The island has a spectacular name which you will never tire of pronouncing because of its assonance, which, I was told in college, means internal rhyme.
The island’s name is Nikumaroro. Isn’t it beautiful? It is so quaint that is comes up on the computer as a misspelling. I am quite sure it wasn’t on the master lists of recent spelling bees covered so eloquently by The News-Herald.
It is a beautiful name. Say it again. Nikumaroro.
When my brother heard the name on TV he made a dash for the library at our house. We also call it the den, the sewing room, my office, and the room where the two darling puppies, Maggie and Tricia, go to sit on the bench, look out through the window and bark upon the arrival of Dave, our mailman.
The puppies are very smart. They have figured out there is no mail on Sundays. But they know Dave will be back on Monday.
Which brings us back to Nikumaroro. My brother found it as a dot on the globe in the library. I could tell you a lot about it, but you could spare me that trouble by the use of the Google thing, which will lead you to more information about Nikumaroro than you ever knew existed, including that it is 6km long and 2km wide and its population is listed as 0.
That probably explains why it has no airport (sorry about that, Amelia and Fred) and thus no direct flights from Cleveland.
My brother and I will have to find another way to get there. The lady of the house said thanks a lot, but somebody has to stay home and feed the puppies.


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