Idaho's death penalty costs article (March 21) reminded me of this true story. Ethel was in her late 80's and was my society editor at the Salida Mountain Mail in the early '80s.
As a young girl she was living in a Maysville mining camp before Colorado had become a state. A man was murdered in another camp up the canyon. The killer fled but was overtaken in Maysville. A Miner's Court was convened with a judge and a jury. The man was found guilty and hanged from a tree in the camp.
Cost of the apprehension, judge and jury, and the execution of judgment, amounted to the loss of a day's work for a number of miners. I asked Ethel why the rush to execution? Even though I was her boss, Ethel gave me a jaundiced-eyed look reserved for the juvenile and uninformed, and replied, "Those miners had families to support and had to get back to working claims."
A year later, the hanging tree died and fell over. Ethel indignantly added, "That made me madder than a boiled owl; I loved to play under that tree."
Bill Ward, Meridian