Carpio Tunnel Syndrome…
By Marvin Baker
In May 2005, while I was weekend editor at the Minot Daily News, the managing editor sent me on assignment to Regina to cover the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth who was officially opening the Saskatchewan Centennial.
As a lifelong journalist, I’ve had the privilege to be involved in a lot of big events; Virgil Hill fights, the Grey Cup, press conferences following disasters and political rallies.
This event was different, and perhaps a much higher profile.
There were reporters all over the place. None of us had press passes, instead, we were “guests of the queen.”
So that meant get as close as you can to the stage to get photographs.
Well, that didn’t work because someone decided that only Canadian journalists, then British journalists would be allowed in a fenced-off area of the provincial capitol lawn in Regina.
Hmm! Americans aren’t usually so left out. So that put me in the crowd in a steady rain, but I was at least toward the front since I arrived grossly early for the queen’s dedication.
It seemed a little disappointing, but I could at least see the stage without restrictions and could at least get a decent picture with a telephoto lens.
So the event got under way and Queen Elizabeth entered the provincial capitol grounds in style, in a horse-drawn carriage that pulled right up to the capitol steps.
After she was introduced by Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert, she said a few words, and they were then joined by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
I took a lot of pictures in a short time because the queen, the prime minister and the premier were all on the same stage at the same time, something that protocol doesn’t always allow to happen.
Following the pomp and circumstance, the queen and Prince Philip decided they were going to meander through the crowd and wave to people celebrating the centennial.
After a few minutes, they walked right past me, within 6 feet, and once again, I took lots of photos because that was my best opportunity of the day. It was “the” photo op.
Shortly after the dedication, the emcee said the party’s over, and everyone started heading back to their day-to-day routines.
But Will Chabun, a local reporter at the Regina Leader-Post, stopped me and asked to chat.
To this day I don’t know how he knew I was the only U.S. journalist in that entire group of more than 100 reporters and photographers and perhaps one of the very few North Dakotans at the event. He interviewed me for that reason.
So a story about an American journalist became a sidebar story in the Regina Leader-Post the next day.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t chat too long as I had to have a story in the next day’s Daily News. I left Regina at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. in the Central Time Zone. It’s a 250-mile drive back to Minot and there is an international boundary along the way.
It was straight up to 8 o’clock when I sat down at my desk at the Daily News and started knocking out my story.
On the way, I didn’t listen to the radio. Instead, I kept thinking about how the story would read because I knew I was going to be in a really tight time hack. It came together rather easily and was on the press when it rolled at 11 p.m.
The next day I got a call from the governor’s office, several legislators and other reporters who all said essentially the same thing. “I didn’t know the queen was going to be in Regina?”
But she was, and we had a major scoop on the rest of the North Dakota media that included TV and the Associated Press.
It was probably the most interesting day of work I’ve ever had in my career ,and Will and I have stayed in touch over the years as we have two things in common; the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team and a four-lane highway from Regina to Minot.
And Will travels to Minot fairly often. He has a strong interest in the Dakota Territory Air Museum and Northern Neighbors Day at Minot Air Force Base.
At one point I mentioned to him that since he was driving within a couple of blocks of my house, why not stop in sometime.
He said, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that. I might develop Carpio Tunnel Syndrome.”
Ever since he said that, I’ve associated that Wednesday at the provincial capitol with that phrase.
It’s a strange comparison, perhaps, but it sticks like peanut butter to the roof of my mouth.