Killdozer Day

Once again it’s Killdozer Day, a day when many of us pause to remember Marvin Heemeyer and his final stand as a free man in 2004.

Most years I point you toward something on the Intertubz that takes a favorable view of his actions. This year, I’m going to point you toward something where he isn’t viewed as a hero or anti-hero, depending on your view of the world.

The Strange Story of ‘Killdozer’ and the Man Behind It doesn’t sit well with me. It seems to be mostly based on the work of newspaperman and author Patrick Brower, who wrote a book where he gives his view of Heemeyer’s story. While the Strange Story article presents him as a simple reporter for a local paper, his author’s website acknowledges that “He is the former editor and publisher of the Sky-Hi News, and a group of weekly and daily newspapers, in Granby, Colorado.” That means he was one of the people and other local business owners who slowly crowded Heemeyer into his final act.

I grew up in a small city but I spent a lot of summers with my grandmother in a small town. I was exposed to both the good and bad of the place. The old widowed lady’s busybody circle was a thing. I remember the first time I ever kissed a girl, it seemed that everyone in town knew about it before either of us made it home from the swimming pool. I also fondly remember that it was both an awkward and magical experience. 🙂

I also remember that there was an old boys’ network. These men owned nearly all the businesses and did own all the buildings on Main Street that weren’t owned by the government. Over the years, I watched them nearly destroy the place. As they aged out of their businesses on Main Street, or the renters of the buildings aged out of theirs, they would refuse to rent to anyone out of fear of losing their control over things. So building after building stayed empty, until on one visit there were only two active businesses remaining.

Thank God there was a flood that destroyed a considerable part of town. The government money that flowed in overpowered the good old boys and led to a partial renaissance of the place. I can report that growth is slowly continuing, and is usually due to new people who have moved in, taking advantage of government money and cheap real estate to become business owners in those same formerly vacant buildings and homeowners as they bought vacant homes to renovate.

So yeah, I understand what must have happened to Marvin Heemeyer. Basically, he was an outsider who dared to expect Granby, Colorado to work as it should have, not as it did. In my humble opinion, the guy never stood a chance. As an outsider who lacked family or close friends to help stabilize him, he slowly stewed in his own juices until he was done. When he was done, he served up a goodly helping of what had been force-fed to him over the years. As I see it, Brower is intent on having the last word and justifying the actions of Granby’s power structure.

There’s a lot of talk going around about “othering” people. Marvin Heemeyer and his actions of June 4, 2004 are an example of one of the things that can happen when that tactic is successful.

The powerful of today should be wary of the man with nothing left to lose.

(Edit, 6/6/2023: Thanks to Bustednuckles for the linkage.)

2 thoughts on “Killdozer Day

  1. Well said. Thanks for writing this piece.
    I wonder if we’ll see anything similar anytime soon.

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