Cliche writing contest

Andrea Lazarus

Beer: the cure for the common flood. Marvin Nicholson’s emergency plan was simple. Stock up on the necessities, then wait it out. But after supplies ran low, Nicholson had only one solution: wade it out.

“Once I saw I was down to the last can, I thought, ‘Well, this is a fine kettle of fish!’ I knew I had to do something,” said Nicholson. The 29-year-old donned his hat and lucky blue shirt, and braced himself for the rising tide. The waders, he said, were an afterthought.

“My wife Linda gave them to me two Christmases ago. She wouldn’t let me leave the house without them,” said Nicholson. Had it not been for Linda’s quick thinking, Nicholson might not have made it home from the beer distributor with dry pants. “She’s a life-saver,” said Nicholson of his wife. “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

* * *

John Hilton

It rained cats and dogs all through the dark and stormy night when Ed Wade decided he was truly up the creek without a paddle.

The Hellam man decided to kill two birds with one stone, but he got more than he bargained for, and his 15 minutes of fame, when a York Daily Record photographer snapped this shot.

Wade stopped to set the record straight, telling our photographer a stranger-than-fiction tale of why it's sometimes bad to let sleeping dogs lie.

Every dog has its day, Wade said, adding that he relies his dog Jasper to keep him out of harm's way.  But when it came time for his moment in the sun, Jasper threw in the towel, preferring to sleep like a baby while flood waters raged.

But Wade, dog food in hand, didn't turn his back on man's best friend.

"Back to the drawing board," Wade said.


Stephanie Reighart

Headline: Raining cats and dogs
Readout: The torrential storm waters from Lee are already coming down in buckets, forcing many to abandon ship in search of any port in the storm.

  Tropical Storm Lee blew into the Susquehanna River valley this week throwing a monkey wrench into the infrastructure of York County. Many areas were put between a rock and a hard place to find more than just weather friends as all heck broke loose and the floodwaters continued to rise.

  As luck would have it for Mike Ingolls of Hellam Township, this perfect storm showed him there was no time like the present to obtain the object of his desires before the downpours continued. He didn’t put off until tomorrow what he could do today while the still waters ran not deep enough to keep him from wading up the creek to a local convenience store.

  “I guess it goes without saying that walking to the store was easier said than done,” Ingolls said on his way back. “I might lose everything but the kitchen sink in this storm, but for me, there’s no place like home.”


Tom Joyce
    Rain failed to dampen the spirits of local residents cleaning up after yesterday’s torrential downpours. An outpouring of support from the community gladdened the hearts of besieged York Countians suffering the ill effects of the prolonged rain event.

  “At the end of the day, unsung heroes in the community make a difference during emotionally charged times like this,” said a visibly shaken Bertha Muckenbaugh of York.

    Emergency officials have been working around the clock since the spate of flooding left a path of destruction. But meteorologists are cautiously optimistic that the worst of Mother Nature’s wrath is over for the time being.


Will Hanlon
YORK COUNTY – In a last ditch effort, sink or swim, up the creek he treaded without a paddle after that dark and stormy night – but he feared not, he wasn’t headed home sweet home empty-handed. Survival of the fittest, it seems, includes the thirsty.

“I’ve had it up to here with this water,” the Coors-carrying chap, Mike Ingolls of Hellam Township, shouted in a tongue-lashing directed toward the heavens. “It’s kind of hard to swallow, but God-willing, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Perhaps not, experts say. Times-they-might-be-a-changing in York County, as when it rains, it pours. And more. With the earth quaking, the sky falling and the streets flooding, forecasters predict locusts will follow. Come hell or high water, washed up residents here are losing ground – literally – in an uphill battle in which only time will tell when the waters might rescind.


Bill Landauer




    Mike Ingolls’ waders wore him, like a savior sent from the church of dryness. Now, he could buy the sweet nectar of the Gods to lift his soggy spirits. Also sustenance for his fuzzy friend, canine compadre, bow-wow brother, because for what better reason would he risk life and limb and tread the murky ooze than for man’s best friend?

    So, one foot in front of the other, eyes searching the horizon for a future devoid of this watery perdition, Ingolls set forth.

    Toward life.

    It had rained cats and dogs.

    Ingolls hoped he wouldn’t step in a poodle.

    And God hadn’t anted up with Puppy-Chow hail stones.

    So Ingolls, wrapped up snugger than baby Jesus in a manger, set out to be a savior. And he picked up a case of red neck champagne for his trouble.


Susan Martin
Cats and dogs rained down in buckets in York County Wednesday, as Tropical Storm Lee barreled through the region. Like a bull in a china cabinet, the storm wreaked havoc on homes, businesses and local roads.

      When all was said and done, 10 inches had fallen – a real gully washer. Had it been colder, local folks would have been plowed in with some 100 inches of the white stuff.

      Mike Ingolls of Hellam Township slogged through flood debris as thick as molasses when the skies parted, and the sun made its first appearance in days. He risked life and limb to retrieve food for his faithful friend, Ralph, a rambunctious Rottweiler near starving to death back at Funk’s cozy cottage along the raging river. Dog food in one hand and a case of cold frosties in another, he moved heaven and earth to complete his mission of mercy.


Erin McCracken
hed: Old man, river
readout: Hellam Township resident up to his elbows in flood waters.

Mike Ingolls was in for the long haul.

The Hellam Township resident found himself upstream without a paddle in the Susquehanna River.

But that didn't dampen his spirits. He strapped on his fishing gear and set his sights on a distant shore.

Bogged down by a case of Coors and a bag of snacks, he waded in the water but was soon in over his head.

Neighbors with a boat came to the rescue. But Ingolls snacks and beer were in deep trouble and met a muddy fate.

"Serves me right for risking it," Ingolls said when he was back on dry land.

Authorities urged other residents to heed the warnings about rising waters and weather the storm on higher ground.


Joan Concilio
When it rains, it pours. And neither snow nor sleet nor that aforementioned rain Tuesday morning could keep Robert Macon of Yorkana from getting to the store.

In some ways, it was the best of times and the worst of times for Macon, 54. He felt like Christmas came early when he saw that the corner store had a six-pack of his favorite beer left. But his parade was rained on when he realized there wasn’t any milk, as flooding had tipped the refrigerator case.

Rather than crying over spilled milk, Macon headed for home, the bearer of bad news for his wife but good news for his dog, Butch. Why? Because it was a land of Milkbones and honey in the pet aisle, and Macon scooped treats for Butch up like manna from heaven.


Buffy Andrews
Headline: Muskrat Bob bites the dust


When it rains, it pours.

That’s what Muskrat Bob discovered Tuesday when at the crack of dawn he found his basement as wet as a drowned rat.

But he didn’t let the rain dampen his spirits. After all, he had a lot at stake and he was a sly as a fox, or so he thought.

"I was between a rock and a hard place," he said. "Can’t teach a dog new tricks without treats."

So with water as high as corn on the fourth of July, Bob battled the bulge as quick as a wink and stuffed himself into his too tight waiters to tread water as brave as a lion. He found a bridge over troubled water about a mile away and was able to cross.

"The situation was rotten to the core," he said. "And the water spread like wildfire. Good thing I didn’t have none of them finer things in life."

It might be the dog days of summer, but hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And Mother Nature was pissed. Just as Bob stepped off the bridge, he turned as white as snow and disappeared at the drop of a hat. Turned out, it was the highway to hell.

That, in a nutshell, is the sad but true story of Muskrat Bob, a man gone but not forgotten. He learned his lesson the hard way. Drink like a fish and you’ll drown. Serves him right.


  1. This is an absolute boatload of awesome. ... All y'all should be over here covering Friday night football games for me. Your talents are going to waste!

  2. This was tons of fun, Scott. Thanks so much for doing it:)

  3. Buffy, thanks for teaming up with me on it.

    I agree with Chris -- this was great stuff. I think my favorite lines were, in no particular order:

    --"It had rained cats and dogs. Ingolls hoped he wouldn't step in a poodle." (Landauer)

    --Buffy's triple-cliche quote: "The situation was rotten to the core," he said. "And the water spread like wildfire. Good thing I didn't have none of them finer things in life."

    --"Because it was a land of Milkbones and honey in the pet aisle, and Macon scooped treats for Butch up like manna from heaven." (Concilio)

    Honorable mention to Will for the times-they-are-a-changing ripoff, which made me think of what has to be one of the worst leads I've ever read. In a student newspaper (cut it some slack, I know), an aspiring scribe wrote, "For Virginia Tech, the times, they have a-changed."

    Because making the cliche past tense really makes it sing. It still hurts me to think about that lead.