I know journalists are under-paid and over-worked. Still, how much time would it have taken Kimberly Williams-Brackett to check the archives of the Times-News to get the story straight about the “big stink” at Twin Falls High School in May 1966? Neither the perpetrators nor the source of the smell nor the consequences are a mystery.
I was a lowly sophomore at TFHS then, and I remember the name of one of the vandals. With that knowledge and 15 minutes at the wonderful Twin Falls Public Library’s online archive, I found all the details of the incident. (The Times-News’ online search engine was no help, but I assume employees can go down to the basement or up to the attic to find the old newspapers.)
There was front-page coverage for several days. The substance spread at the school was butyric acid, which smells like human vomit. There was no forced entry because the perps stole a key to the building. Law enforcement officials gave them the option of turning themselves in, and the only punishment would be to apologize to Dean Richard Baun. That prospect was evidently scarier than taking their chances with the justice system. (Just ask any TFHS student who got crosswise with Mr. Baun how frightening he could be.) The vandals were caught, fined and given community service.
I’m a big fan of the fourth estate, and regularly read several papers (mostly online). Nevertheless, I know the most diligent members of the press occasionally make mistakes. Taking a bit of time to seek a second source can prevent some mistakes. It’s not hard to do — with Google, even this old retired teacher can ferret out buried information.
Now you really know the rest of the story.
Mary Lynn Arter