School Shooting: Oxford, Michigan was "My" Town Before We Started The Country Journal

ESSAY  All-American Oxford, Michigan  By Linda Weld  Copper River Country Journal  (Former Editor, Oxford Leader)  The first cop I ever got ...

ESSAY 

All-American Oxford, Michigan 

By Linda Weld 
Copper River Country Journal 
(Former Editor, Oxford Leader) 

The first cop I ever got to know really well was Leo Meisner. Leo was the head of the Oxford, Michigan police department. He was big, gruff and burly. 

He was wary of me because I was only in my early twenties and seemed too young (to him) to be running a newspaper.

Also, I drove a second-hand Saab. Oxford was just north of Pontiac and Motor City. No right-minded American would ever drive a foreign car. It seemed unnatural, even suspicious. 

But he warmed up, and Leo gave me my first inkling, over the years that I edited the Oxford Leader, of what it meant to work closely with the law toward the common good. 

Our mutual job – always – was to make sure that the public had an understanding about what was happening in Oxford.

Frankly, most of the time, it wasn't much. Oxford at that time was fronted by a sleepy Main Street. It was surrounded by old farms that had been abandoned. 

Just south of Oxford, in Lake Orion, people from Detroit had once hand built idiosyncratic "summer homes" on Lake Orion's shores and small islands. 

Men went ice fishing all winter long in Oxford. In the fall, there was duck and deer hunting. There were apple and cherry trees in the yards. You drove over to the next town in autumn to get cider at the cider mill. 

The stories in the Oxford Leader seem, in retrospect, romantic and innocent. They included tales about pig farming. I took a picture of Eber Baza, long and lanky, towering proudly over his giant pumpkin. Photo stories of school plays showed kids dressed as the tin woodsman and scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

I took a picture of Michigan's two grand prize winners of the Liar's Contest. They were an Oxford father and son, their arms around each other, laughing together. The photo won a prize from the Michigan Press Association.

Years later, I was working on the Country Journal in Alaska. My old publisher at the Oxford Leader called to tell me that was the only joyous photograph of the two of them together that was ever taken. When the dad died, the family asked for a copy. They buried it with him: my gift back to Oxford.  

Oxford was an all-American town. In some ways, it seemed as if it was made up of people who were actually Alaskans but had never managed to leave Michigan and head north. 

Today, November 30th, 2021, Oxford is in the news for another all-American reason. A school shooting. 

Leo Meisner died long ago. 

In this new world of today, the current batch of Oxford cops can be spotted, busy on TV, trying to figure out why a 15-year old Oxford boy, growing up in this tree-lined town with its marching bands, its warm swimming lakes, and its old barns might possibly think he needed to kill the other kids at his school. 

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