I met Harrison Ford exactly twice when I lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Stop me if you heard me tell this story before.
The year was 1990. I was living in the manufactured Wild West — the best of times to live in this little town of Jackson. I didn’t know it then, of course, and that’s how it goes. We had staged gun fights for the tourists, in the summer, when visitors on the way to Yellowstone would number in millions. Jackson was proud of its tininess, and wanted to keep its authenticity — businesses set up in The Square, around the antlered park (look it up, it’s still there, in the center of town, the four arches made out of intertwining elk horns, each at every side of the park) had to have the front façade made of native stone. Anyone who wanted to build with brick had to have special permission. I know — working for The Jackson Hole Guide, one of the town’s two weekly newspapers, I sat in on mind-numbing town council meetings covering such topics.
How small was the town? I am so glad you asked. The average year-round population, not the hordes of people who moved in seasonally to work in hotels, on ski slopes or restaurants nor the tourists, was about 5,000. That meant that the mail was not delivered, but rather put into your post office box at the town’s single Post Office.
To ensure that the newspaper had at least five readers per week, a photographer and a reporter were sent to the post office to ask the question of the week to five locals. The question would be usually be topical — “Should the wolves be reintroduced to Yellowstone and the surrounding area?” “If the election was held today, whom would you vote for among the candidates?” — that kind of thing. Then, five people would answer the question, get their photos taken, and buy the newspapers with their mug shots and quotes in it.
And so, one day it was my turn to sit at the entrance to the post office with the photographer, Todd Anderson. We’d already asked a couple of people a question — if I remember correctly, it was about an upcoming election — and I was looking for another mark, erm… I mean … person to interview, when I spotted a man who parked nearby in a non-descript Subaru and was moving towards the door. He was wearing a wrinkled Columbo-like raincoat and oversized granny-style sunglasses.
“Excuse me, sir, could I ask you a question for The Jackson Hole Guide?” I asked him.