I've always been a fan of the brown envelope sent by the anonymous but well informed person. Even when I can't take what they tell me public, the information will have an influence on what I write about that subject in subtle ways that enriches my reporting. Of course sometimes the anonymous source is a troublemaker spreading lies and gossip. But most of the time I find envelopes thrown over the transom to be very reliable sources.
So I was happy as always to have such a mysterious brown envelope show up in my post office box in Amherst last week. What could it possibly be? An inside angle on the Asselins? A previously undisclosed Keough caper? A newly unearthed abomination from the Albano era?
I quickly tore the envelope open and devoured the two page letter inside! Then I went, "Huh?" It was an unsigned letter from a federal employee in Washington D.C. complaining that he/she was being harrassed as a whistleblower. What did they think I could do for them? Then it occurred to me.
They had the wrong Tom Devine.
When I was kid growing up I knew of only two Tom Devine's in the world besides myself, both of them relatives, one living and one dead. The dead one was Thomas Jefferson Devine, the Civil War figure and founder of the Texas branch of our clan, which predates the Massachusetts branch by about forty years. Here is a picture of me and my relatives in front of the offices of The Devine Newspaper in the City of Devine in Texas.
The Tom Devine that was alive when I young was the Monsignor Thomas Devine of Elms College in Chicopee. However my boyhood was some time ago, and unfortunately The Monsignor is now deceased, although an endowed scholarship keeps his name and memory alive.
However today, thanks to the internet, I am now aware that the world is literally swarming with Tom Devines. There is the eminent scholar of Scottish and Irish history. There is the fabulous interior decorator in Los Angeles. There is the one that's the subject of an unsolved murder. They're everywhere, these Tom Devines, at least according to Google. My only consolation is that if you Google my name, I come up first. So while I may be only one among many Tom Devines in this world, I am the most famous one.
So who was my dimedropper looking for? Instead of me they want the Tom Devine from The Government Accountability Project in Washington, which is an organization which specializes in issues involving whistleblowers. Everything they need to know about that Tom Devine can be found here.
It's funny, when I was a kid everyone called me Tommy, which I didn't like because I thought it sounded too kid-like and I wanted to sound older. Now that I am getting up in years and would appreciate a youthful "Tommy" I don't hear it much. Instead I hear more and more the dreadfully formal, "Thomas."
I just can't win.
The ladies at Smith College in Northampton have never been shy about chalking their opinions on the campus sidewalks.
Finally, I leave you with this cool poem.