Today’s letter marks one of the most interesting pieces of mail I’ve ever received.
It’s from a man named Maurice, who was born and raised in York and who has lived in Oklahoma since 1962.
Maurice writes, “A relative recently sent me a beautiful story you did on York, and I’ve about worn out the article from all the rereads and stained with tear drops from these 79 year old eyes. My story starts at birth on Pershing Ave. April 1, 1932 – moved shortly thereafter to 1432 First Ave. and went to first grade at Elmwood – then moved to 42 N. Keesey St. – went to Heistand then on to P.D. and Wm. Penn – all beautiful memories of York and I wish I never left. But at 17, off to the military and there is my story of up and down in life.”See, the interesting thing is, there’s soon to be a book out about Maurice. It turns out he might or might not have worked as a CIA assassin. Jerry Bohnen, a Clear Channel radio news director in Oklahoma, has been working to verify parts of Maurice’s story for years and hopes to soon release his book, The Dixiecup Assassin, detailing Maurice’s life. I admit, when I read this part of Maurice’s letter, I was a little worried. I’ve never gotten a message from anyone who claimed to have been an assassin before, to say the least, and – well – I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.
The thing is, except for that fact and the return address – a federal prison in Oklahoma, where Maurice is currently serving a sentence for mail fraud, which he openly admits in his message – his letter is so much like so many others I receive. Here’s a person who had some far-out stuff in his life, and yet, as Maurice says himself, “Nothing in my life, tho, took York out of my memory.”
So as I read on, I realized: Maurice has another story to tell. Maybe Jerry Bohnen’s book will make him somewhat famous nationally. But the story for us is one that is incredibly local.
In his words: “From York Fair – Bury’s hamburgers, I still dream of Joe Bury hamburgers – fries and baked beans, farmers market, Smittie’s Pretzels, the 14 Karat Room where I’d take a date on W. Market and dance to the romantic music, and the old 615 Club on E. Market St. The ride on the bus to school with my free tokens. Boy Scouts Troop 99 at Advent Lutheran Church. I could go on and on – but anyway, thank you for giving this old guy a shot of good memories. … Keep up the good work.”