Directory assistance in Othello goes through Robert Pruneda

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Rodney Harwood

Anyone out there remember directory assistance?

I suspect the 20-somethings never heard of dialing 411 to find a telephone number, let alone paying a dime at the pay phone. Pay phone? There’s not even any pictures, well except for the ones drawn on the booth wall, and we’re not going there.

Anyway, in this day and age of speed dial and contact lists, phone numbers are hard to come by if they’re not already in your phone.

I did a story on the 50th anniversary of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and asked Don if he had Yogi Berra’s phone number so I could call him for the story. “Yeah, but don’t tell him I gave it to ya,” he said.

Yogi’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m guessing if some clown from Idaho calls asking for an interview, he could figure out Don ponied it up. Yogi was great. “Sure I’ll talk about the perfect game, I caught it.” Talking to Yogi before he passed is now officially crossed off the bucket list.

I’m not even sure you can call 411 for directory assistance anymore, but I am developing my contact list of people with everybody’s phone number. Take my Othello directory assistance guy Robert Pruneda. Anytime I need a number, I give the big guy a call. When the Othello Unified soccer team struck gold last week at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, I gave Robert a quick call.

“I need (Huskies coach) Kevin McDonald’s number.” I didn’t even bother asking if he had it.

Wait for it. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Voice comes back on, “you ready?” I learned a long time ago to have pen in hand because his contact list must include 100s and he’s got ‘em all.

If Othello mayor Shawn Logan isn’t planning a parade for the reigning national champions, let me be the first to say - the gold medal winners need a parade past PJ Taggares Gym where they’re going to hang the medal for all to see.

When the Seahawks made their historic 12 Tour stop in Othello last summer, I needed the name of a Seahawk nut. Like finding a 12 in Othello is tough, but I was hoping Robert could help me narrow the field.

“Call the Perez’s,” he said.

I hit the motherlode with Gordy and Mandi. I did the story on Mason, put his mom and pops, Gordy are Seahawks nuts, going all the way back to the Jim Zorn days. “If you’d asked me if I thought the Seahawks would ever come to Othello, I’d of said you’re nuts,” Gordy said with a laugh.

Come to find out, Mandi actually worked for the Seahawks during a training camp while she was getting her degree at Eastern Washington.

“I remember Gordy came up (to Cheney) with his sister and we met Jim Zorn. She was so excited to meet him,” Mandi told me then. “Warren Moon was there. He was a class act also. He was a leader for sure. His conversations were never about his career. It was always, ‘my kid hit a home run the other night,’ or something about his family. That’s what I remember about him, it was always family first.”

There’s three forms of communication in Othello: There’s the telephone. There’s the telegraph. And of course, there’s the tell-a-Robert.

Or in this case, ask Robert, because he’s way more friendly than “Ask Jeeves."

Rodney Harwood is sports writer at the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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