Posts Tagged ‘Off the Cuff’

Favorite Idyllwild Columnist’s New Book

January 22, 2010


Author Ben Killingsworth at home in Idyllwild with a Pop Art portrait of him

By Marcia E. Gawecki

A cross between Garrison Keillor and Erma Bombeck, award-winning local columnist Ben Killingsworth presents some of his humorous “Off the Cuff” columns (that ran in the Idyllwild Town Crier newspaper from Feb. 2003 to Nov. 2005) in a 102-story collection entitled, “I’m Waiting for My Wife.”

Most of the stories are uniquely Idyllwild, such as the Jazz Fest, the Home Tour, Casino Night, poetry readings, trips to the post office, and hikes in the woods–all told from a local’s perspective. At the time they appeared, this retired CHP Chief, was also president of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce and a Rotary volunteer. All of those experiences served as fodder for his weekly columns. One unusual one entitled, “Doggone Right,” reveals how Ben “converses” with a dog at a local meeting, reading the dog’s responses and wholeheartedly agreeing with him–which nearly gets him thrown out of the meeting!

Some feature locals by name, including bookstore owner Steve Moulton and realtor Dora Dillman, while others remain anonymous. But none are mentioned more often than Ben’s wife, Nanci, a local artist and volunteer, who is always the “voice of reason.” For example, in “Hammer Down,” Ben wants them to become a semi-truck driving team, while Nanci reminds him of their two dogs, three cats, and all the litter boxes and leashes that need to come along. “You be sure and write,” Nanci quips.

“Ben’s an observer,” Nanci adds. “I’ll be talking to him out on the deck, and his attention will wander to a spider making a web. It’s all about the animals, birds, insects and people in our world, and he does a good job of writing about it.”

Waiting for My Wife is now available at local shops in Idyllwild, including the pharmacy

Years after the columns ceased to appear in the paper, locals would often tell Ben that they missed reading them. “They’d say that my column was the first thing they’d read in the paper, and sometimes the only thing,” Ben said. So, after getting permission from the former Town Crier publisher, Ben decided to self publish his book of columns. It’s in the final editing stages, and will likely be sold in early spring for $13.95. For more information, contact