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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: And here’s how a good guy caught the bad guys

Last February, Wayne Manis took his daughter, Christa Hazel, to the shooting range to try out the new handgun that he had given her for her birthday. Said Christa: “First time to shoot it, and I’ll be going back for more. Yippee Ki-yay!” (Photo courtesy of Christa Hazel)
Last February, Wayne Manis took his daughter, Christa Hazel, to the shooting range to try out the new handgun that he had given her for her birthday. Said Christa: “First time to shoot it, and I’ll be going back for more. Yippee Ki-yay!” (Photo courtesy of Christa Hazel)

This isn’t the way to read a book. Chapter 9 first. Then, Chapters 12 through 15. And back to Chapter 1. But “The Street Agent” by former FBI agent Wayne Manis isn’t like other books. Your columnist was newspapering in the Idaho panhandle (Lewiston Tribune, 1982-84) and North Idaho (1984 to today) when Wayne was busting bad guys associated with the violent racist Orders 1 and 2 here. And dismantling a drug empire, as well as illegal prostitution and gambling, in the Silver Valley that prospered while Frank Crnkovich was entrenched as Shoshone County sheriff. “The Street Agent” pulls back the curtain on those busts, including the Whidbey Island shootout with Order 1 desperado Bob Mathews, who fired an automatic blast in Wayne’s direction. Wayne was old-school FBI. He would have been at home as a lawman in the Wild West of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Pat Garrett. Wayne’s book was published in 2014. But it had been gathering dust in the home office until a Facebook comment prompted Huckleberries to pick it up. The comment? Wayne mentioned that he and other agents who ran Order 1 leader Mathews to ground had conducted two days of interviews for an episode of CNN’s “Declassified” series (with former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers as host). The episode is expected to air in June or July. If you can’t wait that long to find out what happened behind the scenes, read Wayne’s book.

First things first

So why did Huckleberries start with Chapter 9, “Arsenic Poisoning and the Mysterious Marie Hilley,” when Wayne’s experience with the Aryan Nations and Mathews’ murderous gang was farther back in the book? In February, Wayne will interview with a British network re: his work in capturing Marie Hilley of Blue Mountain, Alabama, a “Black Widow” type who had a nasty habit of poisoning those around her, including family and responding police officers – and then disappearing. Once Huckleberries read that chapter and then moved on to more familiar ground with the Aryans and Crnkovich, Wayne’s “Street Agent” was unputdownable.

Huckleberries

While Wayne was hobnobbing with TV networks, his daughter, Christa Hazel, was celebrating birthday No. 43 in style with friends watching the Zags – make that the now No. 1 Zags – crush San Diego 79-43 last week. Forty-three? Huckleberries first met Christa, now a Coeur d’Alene school trustee, when she was student body president at North Idaho College. She has aged much better than Huckleberries … Sound Off question posed last week by the Lewiston Tribune online: “In states where marijuana is legal, is it now socially acceptable to light up a joint?” Yo, Spokane County reader, we’re talking to you here … Poll: Outspoken Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, hasn’t gotten much love from Hucks Nation after she lost three Idaho House committee assignments for saying that female legislators gain power by swapping sex favors. Sixty-three percent said over the weekend that she shouldn’t get those assignments back … “Which is it? ‘Don’t take Trump literally.’ Or, ‘He’s doing what he said he would do!’ – tweet from S-R Opinion Editor Gary Crooks. Well?

Parting shot

Cindy Hval, of the S-R’s Front Porch column, was shopping the bread aisle recently when a random guy excused himself and reached above her. So far so good. Then, she Facebooks, the stranger said: “You smell really good.” Flabbergasted, Cindy muttered thanks. And: “I haven’t been able to smell myself for a week.” Awkward silence. She mumbles, “I’ve had a cold.” And wonders why she didn’t send hubby to the store. Be careful out there.

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