The Wit and Words of American’s Funniest Postmaster.
Meet Laramie’s postmaster, Justice of the Peace, and first editor of the Boomerang newspaper.
Bill Nye, Frontier Humorist
Few Wyoming newspapers have names as arresting as Laramie’s. Go to the newspaper’s home page on the web, and you will find: “Laramie Boomerang: Laramie’s Voice Since 1881.” But the page provides little else about the paper’s origins or those of its name. In fact, the newspaper and its name were established by a man who resided in the state less than seven years but was, at one time, considered “Wyoming’s most celebrated citizen” and remains one of the state’s most famous historical figures.
Bill Nye, more formally known as Edgar Wilson Nye, was the first editor of the Laramie Boomerang. He named the paper for his mule because of what he described as the “eccentricity of his orbit.” As Nye’s son Frank said, something about the word “boomerang” piqued Nye’s imagination. “His mule, his mine, his newspaper, his [first] book [Bill Nye and Boomerang], all bore the trademark.”
Indeed, the mule and the paper were in close association early on. Originally housed in a shoe store, the paper soon moved to the more expansive loft of a livery stable. Its editor could be found by coming “up the stairs,” Nye said, “or you could twist the tail of the iron gray mule and take the elevator.”
Nye’s signature was humor. As he later said, “I can write up things that never occurred with a masterly and graphic hand.” But when he first arrived in Laramie from Wisconsin, his talents were neither well developed nor well known, although that soon changed. “Ideas rose from his mind like bubbles from champagne,” Nye’s son Frank later observed, but Wisconsin was too conservative for Nye. It took Laramie to pop the cork.