Hal Wolford is a legend in my area. A veteran Newsman for WEHT who had done it all and finished his career with years’ worth of “Backroads” segments. He had a knack for finding the odd people and places of the Tri-state along with about every thumb picker around. To give you an idea of the flavor of the stories, he once covered a group of people that would deliberately agitate, and then fight, bees.
The titles give you some clues too: “Guy collects Harper’s Weekly”; “Last Diaper Service in Evansville”; “ODE to Outhouses”; Evansville Northcutt played Dinglehooter Band”; and “Lulu Deevine and Bunny Glamazon.”
When I got assigned to work with Hal as his shooter, I knew it would be a fun day. But what was more fun was living across the street from him for about 2 years. My bay window became THE HAL WOLFORD SHOW and you never knew what you’d see.
One day, I was mowing. I had gone to the far end of my backyard and, there, stopped by the fence, was one of the strangest things I had ever seen: A turtle with a red shell. It was faded and dirty and at first I thought it might be poisonous but it looked like an average box turtle so I picked it up.
My wife and I were raised in the country and she had never seen anything like it before either. Who would know? Well, the internet was barely a thing so there went Googling it. Hey, I know, why not ask Hal? If anyone would know, it’d be him.
Hal was puttering around his back yard wearing a tee shirt and a pair of shorts with a busted fly. I walked up carrying this critter and asked him “Hal, you ever seen a turtle like this before?” Hal looked shocked for a second and I thought I had stumped him. “Well, I’ll be damned, you found Mr. Redback! I painted him red so my grandkids wouldn’t lose him in the grass.”
This poor turtle managed to escape Hal’s house, avoided becoming road kill, made it up my front yard, down the side of my house and all the way across my backyard trying to get away from being a child’s plaything and I took him right back to where he started.