Why I Do It

I've been meaning to put up a "why" page. Reading this post over at Peoria Pundit got me thinking about things I've left buried in the subconscious, waiting for release. This post will have to suffice until I get around to it. Why do I blog? Why do I write? For those readers from the Peoria area, I can say two words and you'll understand immediately – Rick Baker.

Baker was a columnist for the ratty-ass Peoria Journal Star for several years. He died in a tragic accident after the SUV he was driving flipped over in 1988. I still remember the day after, when the PJS ran his column header in the usual spot with blank space in the area his words would normally have occupied. It was heartbreaking to see and I'm tearing up a little now thinking about it.

I had to stop reading the paper after that. It just felt wrong. There was a great big void of nothingness where Baker should have been fileting Mayor Maloof or DCFS or UAW or Caterpillar or District 150 or Diamond Star or whoever. While he was at his peak, you just knew that Peoria was a better place because of it. Someone was watching, waiting and reporting. The facts would come out and the guilty would see their dirty laundry exposed to the harsh light of day. The thing about Rick Baker was you either loved reading him or hated him, but you weren't lukewarm about the guy. He got under your skin and made his presence felt. He kicked ass, took down names and left no doubt about were he stood on a given issue.

His legacy continues on through the children he fathered, the woman he loved and people he helped or inspired. And it's a crying shame he's gone, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one out here doing my thang as a result of his work.

R.I.P. Rick, you're gone but not forgotten.

Update: Bill Dennis has a new post on Rick Baker here.

The only writer I've read who comes close to possessing Baker's drive and spirit of sticking up for the little guy is Vin Supyrnowicz. You can read his columns here.

7 comments

  1. Thank you for the info on Rick Baker. Yesterday afternoon, in between client meetings, I wandered into a thrift store, out here in the Pacific NW and found a well used book, “Baker’s Best”. The cover was intriguing but even moreso, he was from Peoria, IL, my birthplace. My hometown was 75 miles north, and before yesterday, I never heard of Rick Baker or read the Peoria Journal Star, yet his stories were reflective of my Illinois days, hot summer days, Daily Gazette paper routes, and grime of the steel mills. I wanted to know more info about Rick Baker and other writings, so as pleased as I am to find your site, I was saddened by the loss of Baker in 1988. His story, “Search for a Lost Lifetime”, about Mary Doefour, is very good…I think I read in another site that he wrote a book? Anyway, thank you for his tribute, and you’re right, he did leave a void. Elaine

  2. I also think of Rick Baker when I think of growing up in Peoria. I was reading thepaper and Atlanta paper and it said they have an article coming tomorrow tittled, “Taking Care of John Doe.” The memories of Rick’s passion to identify Mary flodded my memory and I went and looked at my 4 treasured Rick Baker books. Explaining my admiration for him, to people not from Peoria, has been difficult but it doesn’t stop me. I never met him but I will always remember the day my mother called me in Boston 9after I moved she cut his articles out and sent them to me weekly) to tell me he had died. I cried and wondered who would ever stand up for right and wrong as Rick did. What a tragedy. Such a loss.

  3. First, thanks for the link,
    Second: I’ve heard that some people who were skewered by Rick still loved his work. They figured if Rick was lambasting them, they probably did something to deserve it. BYW: The lard-assed copy desk trolls who work for the PJS hated Rick Baker’s guts. My experience is that the copy desk at the PJS — at the time I interned for the PJS in the 1987 — was that they are a bunch of prima donnas who thought they were better than the people who lived in Peoria.

  4. Have just discovered Rick Baker’s writings. What a loss that he is no longer with us.There aren’t many out there that can tell a story like he did, I absolutely respect and admire his.

  5. Just read the Doefour story. I work for the newspaper Rick mentioned in Mount Vernon, IA-now called the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun. Would love to get in touch with his widow, Terry. Would really like to see about obtaining another copy of the book (which is undoubtedly hard to do). I know some of the people in ?Mary?s? family.

  6. Over two decades ago, my ex-husband’s niece was killed in an extremely unusual and tragic car accident. She was within a month or so of getting married. Rick contacted her parents and wrote an article about the accident. I was a loyal fan of his column before and after this. Miss him and his column.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.