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Column: Newsmen can leave behind remarkable tales

WORTHINGTON -- Larry Schlick died last month. Larry was a photographer for the Daily Globe for a dozen years (1957-1969). Most people reading these words won't remember Larry. I can tell you he was frequently an award-winning photographer and this will mean nothing -- you can't appreciate photos if you can't see them, and I can't show Larry's photos to you. Let it be known that even in those years, the Daily Globe brought notable photos to its readers.

Larry was shorter than most professional football players but he had that brawn. He reminded some of an NFL lineman. He was physically strong. He had a butch haircut through all his days.

There are editors everywhere who have contended with photographers who stopped somewhere for a nap, or for a coffee. Maybe even for a beer. Larry never touched liquor. He never smoked. Nonetheless his editor sometimes waited, wondered, hoped Larry would soon be back. It was not hard to guess where he might be.

Larry had skills with kids and skills as a coach that matched his skills with camera lenses. He might be driving past Church Park, where he would see two ragtag teams of boys in an unorganized softball game. Larry would stop and wonder, "Who's ahead?" He would latch onto the team that was trailing and, maybe, coach and cheer them to a win. He actually spent most of his life as an elementary teacher.

Larry and Pat had three children of their own. Deb, the eldest, was a memorable Daily Globe reporter in her own right in a later time.

Larry had deep feeling for kids -- he is the only man I remember who once cried in the Daily Globe newsroom.

A high school coach in the Daily Globe circulation area went berserk and stabbed his infant daughter to death with a butcher knife. Larry was the photographer dispatched to the scene. The coroner who called for the investigation of the slaying was relentless. He required photos of the baby from the back and from the front, from one side and the other side. He needed closeups of the wounds. Larry held back until he returned to the newsroom where he suddenly broke down. Oh -- he wailed. He lamented that child as though it were his own. Tears streamed.

It is easier to write of reporters than photographers. I mean, you can tell the reporters' stories.

Lately, someone telephoned me to ask if I ever heard of a gangland-style slaying at Sioux Falls. The Sopranos in South Dakota. Oh yes. I heard. That was three-quarters of a century ago, New Year's Eve, 1937. The best version I know of that story came from Gabe Caffrey, a Daily Globe reporter from a time before Larry Schlick who went on to report for the Argus Leader.

There was an explosion that night. The blast shook Worthington, 60 miles distant. People were startled, frightened. Some imagined an earthquake.

Three people were bound and transported on that dark, cold New Year's Eve to a WPA work shack four miles east of Sioux Falls. One of the three was a woman, Helen Sieler. Gabe Caffrey recalled Helen Sieler had 11 gunshot wounds. "It was beyond belief -- all those wounds, but not one of them fatal."

The kidnappers, the killers, packed five tons of dynamite into the work shack, lit a long fuse and then tore off in their big, black car. Helen Sieler managed to crawl from that shack while the fuse sizzled. When the blast came, rattling doors and windows and party rooms for 70 miles in every direction, Helen was flat on the ground. She escaped unscathed by the explosion.

"I wrote part of that story," Gabe Caffrey said. "Several of us worked on it."

"I went downtown at noon that day. There were two or three men -- three, I think -- and two or three women standing right outside the Argus Leader, on the sidewalk, drinking and passing a bottle to one another. I thought, 'What kind of people are these?' It turned out they were the ones involved in this."

Gabe Caffrey. Larry Schlick. They are two of very many remarkable people who worked at the Daily Globe through passing years.

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.