1984 was an interesting time to be alive, because you felt, every day, as if you were living in the George Orwell novel of the same name. Reagan was president, and the world seemed to be collapsing around you — likely just as many of us feel today with another, repressive, Republican president. 1984 also happened to be the year I started writing for the Daily Nebraskan — the school newspaper for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I was a Sophomore in 1984, and I was writing a weekly, serialized, novel called “Murder in F-Flat” — in the wake of Mark Twain, and others like him — and the effort was curious, odd, joyful, frustrating, and purely delightful.
1984 was the dawn of the Personal Computer Age, and while we could save electronic copies of our writing, the work was stored on a fragile 5 1/4″ floppy disk that was kept in a sleeve because its magnetic surface was exposed to the elements. You wrote on the computer, printed out your articles, handed in the paper, and an editor retyped what you wrote into their computer. Yes, you saved what you wrote, but retrieving it later, was an issue then, as it is now; so when I discovered yesterday that the Daily Nebraskan archives for 1984-1987 were now online, I pounded my memory to try to remember when, and what, I wrote in 1984; and the key to the memory trick was my 1984 September 28 pay stub from the Daily Nebraskan. I remembered a check was cut for us every 30 days and each article paid $10.
My search began, and ended, in money — and now I present to you what I was able to find — four installments of “Murder in F-flat” by Dave Boles. I think a couple of episodes are missing from the online archive; I will keep an eye on that Daily Neb portal, and if the other stories flash into the now from the past, I will dutifully update this article! If you prefer a larger version to read, please head over to my Boles.com Periodicals Archive.
August 31, 1984
Too bad you can’t see the whole graphic logo for the column — and today, you’d never want a graphic byline, because your name would never index online as text — “Murder in F-flat” is stylized, and hand-drawn, and I wish I could remember the artist’s name. I just realized now, the pen doing the writing, is being held the wrong way, and is actually stabbing me, the author, in the chest. Murder, indeed! The opening reference to “last week” tells me at least one previous episode installment is missing, so we’re leaping into the story mid-stream.
September 6, 1984
September 13, 1984
Oh, and here’s a great bit of news, the great, Mick Casale — a visiting Playwright from New York — was featured in the same September 13, 1984 issue of the Daily Nebraskan as one of my serial installments! Mick was an NYU instructor for many years, and during the semester he was on campus in Nebraska, he became my ally, champion, and friend. Mick helped get my Stone’s Throw play produced at UNL, and he let me rent his New York City apartment on Cornelia Street when I made the move to the Big Apple!
Mick Casale also loved to troll the Husker football fans because they were so fragile and brittle. Mick was a Minnesota boy at heart, and he graduated from the University of Minnesota. “Go Gophers” was his rallying cry, dutifully written each class session on the blackboard in white chalk — driving all the scarlet and cream lovers, insane with fury — even though, at that that time, the Gophers were one of the worst teams in college football! You can see his “GO GOPHERS” in the image below — right in the midst of his theory of dramatic structure, and how to break down plot points.
I was honored to be in the staged reading of Mick’s new play — RED POWER — about the American Indian Movement.
September 20, 1984
And that is it for now!
I remember there was some controversy with my serial novel — that sort of thing “hadn’t been done before” at the Daily Nebraskan, a “serious” news rag, and some staff members didn’t like the attention a Sophomore was getting, and others in editorial didn’t like my giant “Murder in F-flat” logo that took up space they felt they were owed — so my time at the Daily Nebraskan was sweet, but brief, as I realized it was a more profitable, and logical, use of my time to write plays… instead of novels for the student newspaper.
Here’s the breadcrumb that started it all — my Daily Nebraskan pay stub from September 28, 1984! Save everything! You never know what clue you’ll need in the future to solve a murder mystery!