Opinion

Anyone have a list of past Island County Sheriffs? Google doesn't

Who was Wild Bill Hickok’s sidekick?

Today the answer to that is just a Google click away, but there was a time not long ago when finding the answer was a community enterprise.

If the question popped into your head, there was no online reference to reveal the answer in seconds. The first resource was the people around you, whether family members or co-workers. Those with no gray hairs would quickly answer “beats me,” but older heads would puzzle over the answer and occasionally get it right. But if no one in the room knew, and the answer was somehow important, such as including a wager, it might be worth the effort to head to the family library and peruse the World Book encyclopedia. Would you look up “Hickok,” or “Westerns,” or “Sidekicks?” It was all part of the adventure of seeking an answer.

Sometimes the answer would elude you for days, interfering with your ability to concentrate or sleep. You could remember the Lone Ranger’s sidekick was Tonto, Roy Rogers’ sidekick was Gabby Hayes and the Cisco Kid’s sidekick was Pancho, but the name of Wild Bill’s sidekick was a stumper.

If you remained stumped, you could call the local librarian. The librarian would take a minute or two to find the answer, or if the question was particularly tough she’d have to call you back. But eventually you got the correct answer that Wild Bill’s sidekick was Jingles, played by the great Andy Devine. Maybe she’d throw in another dozen sidekicks from old westerns just to show you she’d done a thorough research job. Finally, you could rest in peace because, after three days and numerous inquires, you had your answer. The satisfaction was immeasurable.

Compare this to the age of Google, when the answer to any question is at your fingertips, seconds away. There’s no challenge in not knowing something and finally discovering the answer, and no point in remembering anything. The computer knows all. Even the TV quiz shows are influenced. Whenever anyone wants to “call a friend,” for the answer, you know the friend on the phone is googling like crazy. The friends are a lot more likely to know the answer today than they were 10 years ago.

Fortunately for those of us who enjoy the nagging feeling of not knowing, not all the answers are online, at least not yet. For example, last week we were wondering about past sheriffs of Island County. We could remember Mike Hawley, Owen Burt, Bill Norton and Dick Medina, and had heard stories of William Gookins, Arnie Freund and Tom Clark, but there must have been a lot more since Island County, the eighth oldest county in Washington, was created on Jan. 6, 1853 (right, we googled that information in order to sound knowledgeable). But we couldn’t find a list online. Admittedly we’re not the best googlers in the world, but it was refreshing not to find the entire list of Island County sheriffs.

If anyone knows all our past sheriffs, give me a call at 675-6611 or write it down and bring it into the office. We want to solve this one the old fashioned way, no matter how many sleepless nights may result.

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