Tim MacDonald Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
For those interested in the not-so-good old days along the Hi- Line, a longtime Montana journalist has written the book for you. Woody Laughnan, 82, has penned his second novel, “Echoes of Ozymandias” from his home in Fresno, Calif., where he retired after years as a syndicated columnist for McClatchy newspapers. “It is a historical novel, based on the people I knew living on the Hi-Line between prohibition and World War II,” Laughnan said in a recent interview. Laughnan began his life on a cattle and grain farm northwest of Kremlin where his father had squatted in 1909. He remembers at an early age riding with the bootleggers who brought liquor in from Canada along the back roads then to all the speakeasies along the High-line. “I remember seeing one old guy in Havre that had what they called jake leg, that meant he was crippled by drinking bad bootleg whiskey,” Laughnan said. “Havre plays a prominent part in the book,” he said. “It is about the people I knew in the towns where I worked. It follows The history of one family from Prohibition through the Great Depression and ends with the beginning or World War II.” “I remember there were thousands and thousands of people traveling on the rails and along the highways trying to get to jobs in the defense industries and to work the fruit harvests along the coast. It was a terrible time,” he said. “One hot summer day in 1936 the hot wind picked up and you couldn’t see the sun for the dust,” he said. Laughnan began his career working as a cub reporter for the Martinez (Calif.) Gazette when he returned from the war in Europe. He returned to Montana and became an apprentice printer at the Liberty County Times out of Chester. He then worked as a linotype operator for the Phillips County News. He then went to the Great Falls Tribune and while there he earned his B. A. at the College of Great Falls and in 1959 was named advertising manager of the Glasgow Courier. He then was hired as publisher of the Lewistown Daily News and News Argus. In the late 1960s, Laughnan returned to California where he worked as a publisher of several papers before joining McClatchy Newspapers as a syndicated columnist. McClatchy is the third largest chain in the country. Their papers include the Minneapolis Tribune, Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, to name just a few. “My columns are usually about street-type people, down and outers, prostitutes, or working men like long-haul truckers, just characters I have met over the years,” Laughnan said. His column ran for 22 years before he retired to live in Fresno, Calif. This is his fifth book; the last, “Chinook,” is also about Montana. Written in 2003, it is a “total fiction work” about the east slope of the Rockies in the Browning area. “Echoes of Ozymandias,” 387 pages, is available online through Waldenbooks, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million and Amazon.com. It was published by Publish America of Baltimore.