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Friday, May 6, 2016

From the Midway: The legacy of 'Gork 29'

Monday, June 21, 2010

In the past month of so, it seems Cherokee County has been under a small crime wave. Break-ins, vandalism, and hog thefts have all made the headlines lately.

Some folks chalk up these recent actions of boys just being boys. But that excuse for their actions never sits well with me. It's just too simple.

I'm a firm believer that none of us are perfect and everyone deserves a second chance. And these young men will have to answer for what they have done. That will be the lesson for them, if you do the crime you'll have to do the time.

I also don't believe that these are bad kids. They just made some bad choices.

I recently talked to one of the victims of one of these sad events, and while talking to her, you could see the pain and frustration in her face and the daunting task of having to clean up after theses kids.

I hope that these kids realize the amount of pain that they have caused these people that they affected. To me, that's the worst part of what they did. It's not the physical damage but the emotional damage of being violated.

If those kids could see that, maybe they could understand the true nature of these types of crimes. It is also important for these kids to realize that their actions reflected, often unfairly, poorly to their own families. Many of these parents, who I have no doubt, have tried hard to raise upstanding members of society.

These recent events brought to mind of an outbreak of graffiti that happened back about 10 years ago. I'm a type of person who enjoys going on a nice ride in the country by taking back roads and seeing just how beautiful this part of Iowa truly is.

Some friends of mine and I started noticing how someone had been spray painting, or in modern lingo "tagging," the name "Gork 29" all over corn bins, barns, silos and old sheds.

We first noticed this in Cherokee County and over the next year we started see the tag in O'Brien, Clay, and Dickinson. It eventually grew to areas in Southern Minnesota.

It was like someone was painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa and we wanted to know who this person was and to try to understand why they were doing this. Was it some grand plan or personal message?

After all if a person's going to all that effort to get a message out it would be nice to actual understand it. I'm all for artists expressing themselves but not at the cost of damaging someone's property. It's just asinine to me.

A friend at the time eventually met the man who so infamously made his mark. I can't recall who it was, but after meeting the gentleman my friend reported that there was no grand message and it was his opinion that this person's IQ was equal to the last two digits in his tag.

I still don't know if the tagger ever answered for all the damage he did, but I do know he was punished for other crimes during that time, again as reported by my friend back in the day. Apparently his grand scheme was just simply his nickname and his age.

The sad truth is that even today you can still see some signs of this when you take a ride in the country. Some people have moved on and painted over the tag, or some buildings are no longer standing, but once in a while I still see a faded "Gork 29" painted on the side of a barn or somewhere.

This is proof that actions that you commit when you're younger has a way of sticking around years later.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway