The best compliment you can pay me is, I like your hairpiece. - B. Davis Evans.
B. Davis Evans is dead at age 79. The day he left the world, July 4, was somehow appropriate. If anyone ever symbolized the independence of America's First Amendment, it was B. Davis Evans.I'll grant you, his is not a household name in much of Utah County. But try telling that to anyone who lives in Spanish Fork.
For 36 years, B. Davis Evans taught high school in his beloved hometown. And for more than 20, he wrote a column for The Spanish Fork Press, the city's venerable weekly newspaper. The paper dedicated a full page to his memory last week.
The Spanish Fork Press goes to missionaries all over the world. Tales abound of Spanish Fork natives on missions transferring from apartments and former companions then starting subscriptions so they could keep up with B. Davis and others in Spanish Fork, "The Home of Pride and Progress."
About three years ago, I worked for The Press. I woke early in the morning and stayed late into the night writing headlines and articles, laying out pages, addressing papers and getting ink on my fingers.
I had been trained in all the modern techniques of layout and design at Brigham Young University, so I encouraged everyone on the staff to use Associated Press style and tried to write fairly good headlines. I thought that was what was important about newspapers.
But none of that mattered really. I'd be surprised if B. Davis Evans liked any headline that I ever wrote.
The reason is that B. Davis liked things the way they were. He rode his trademark girl's bicycle around Spanish Fork for years. He'd observe what he saw, sit in his bathtub until early in the morning and set people straight in his column, "Round the Town." In many ways, the guy had it right. Older is often better. So is saying what you think.
Once, Evans openly swore about city officials' actions in a column. It startled me when I read it, but then made me smile. No one ever accused him of pulling his punches.
In another, he talked about how false American society was. People with their implants, padding and what not. He said, though, he wasn't really opposed to all that . . . as noted as his bicycle was his famous hairpiece. If memory serves, in that joyous column he mentioned an incident that was reiterated by former Deseret News staffer Clark Caras last week.
Caras wrote in The Press that he was in a helicopter with then-governor Scott Matheson. They were surveying the damage done during 1983 flooding. As they took off from a site, playful Caras told Matheson to wave. Standing with pen in one hand, B. Davis Evans took his other hand off his head and politely waved back. The whirling rotor did what it does, and the hairpiece was flying.
But Davis never held a grudge. He laughed about the episode when Caras apologized. It was one of his endearing qualities. People should laugh at least once every day, he always said.
Spanish Fork lost something. We all lost something. B. Davis Evans is gone. To close out his career, I'd just like to say this: "You didn't know me very well, but I always did like your hairpiece."