Kate pointed this story out in today’s New York Times, and read it aloud:
“Like any coroner, he has seen some things. But one case stays with him nearly 70 years after the fact, like some old song he can’t get out of his head.
“He couldn’t shake this case even if he wanted to, what with all the videotapes, the DVDs, the television broadcasts replaying the gruesome aftermath over and over, in vivid Technicolor. Those striped socks, curling back like a pair of deflating noisemakers. …
“The coroner’s name is Meinhardt Raabe, and he lives in a retirement community tucked between here and there. He can’t see or hear too well, and his short legs need the assistance of a three-wheeled walker with hand brakes. But none of this means that at 91 he has forgotten much, because he hasn’t — especially about that case.”
It might be hard to believe a profile on one of the bit players in “The Wizard of Oz” might make compelling fare, but the story’s worth reading just for the writer’s touch; the story he tells is touching, too. There’s a catch, though: For a reason that escapes me–probably because this is the work of a highlighted national columnist, Dan Barry–the story is only available online as part of the Times Select service (we get Times select because we shell out for a daily subscription to the paper). It’s hard to see how this really helps the Times much. It’s one thing to put op-ed columnists and older-than-two-week archives under wraps and make people pay to see them, though I wonder if even that’s a winning proposition in the long term. This is just a lovely slice of life, and it comes as something of a rude surprise that it can’t be shared (unless, I suppose, people want to make do with email copies).