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NAX: The real scoop on Odessa's past probably is worthy - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: The real scoop on Odessa's past probably is worthy

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Posted: Monday, October 25, 2010 12:00 am

The idea of writing the history of Odessa — and not just the official or authorized version — has been suggested to me many times through the years.

Indeed, my columns have touched on many areas where the uniqueness of this particular place has been on full display.

The scene has been full of characters since Day 1. You don’t come to this part of the country to stay — even for a limited time — without understanding that the rules are different in this sort of environment.

So you have business people and lawyers and doctors and con artists (and sometimes combinations of all of the above) finding ways to make a living in Odessa and the rest of the Permian Basin.

Of course, when oil and gas came into the picture, things got even wilder.

That’s when hardscrabble ranching made way for outright gambling. Like it or not, surviving in the petroleum industry requires lots of ultimate risk-taking.

Admittedly, the pace and the things that are acceptable have become a lot more … well, not dignified, but perhaps a little less embarrassing.

And yet, Odessa still has that old-time reputation.

All those years of football and obsession with winning won’t go away. It brought us the bestselling book and movie called “Friday Night Lights.” That’s not going to go away.

And yes, there have been some bizarre criminal episodes through the years. They, too, live on in infamy.

But perhaps the more strange moments have come in fights over politics, religion and notions over how the community should be run.

Such things have driven usually normal folks into doing and saying things that didn’t even make sense.

And there have been a lot of times when this newspaper found itself right in the middle of such knockdown, drag-out behavior.

For instance, a district judge once got so mad at the Odessa American and its editor that he was quoted in The New York Times as saying that the only people who worked in the newsroom were drunks, homosexuals and ex-convicts. (Now, for the sake of perspective, it also must be pointed out that the judge and the editor used to live in the same area when growing up and were thought to have had bad blood over a young woman that carried over into much later life.)

Anyway, there were times when a prosecutor got accused of wrongdoing in print and eventually ended up indicting an editor. And these two guys had been drinking buddies at one time.

Anyway, a lot of these one-time newsmakers are either dead or pretty much out of the day-to-day news environment. So writing about their exploits probably wouldn’t create many flashpoints. But it might be worth the time just to get it all on the record.

I’ve thought about lively ways to get a history book bubbling and moving along at the pace needed. I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time building up people who thought themselves more important than actually was the case. And I’d want to reward the folks who did their thing with the proper humor and perspective that Odessa always has demanded.

Sounds like quite a challenge. And something that needs to be done.

Odessa, TX

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