Ladies and gentlemen, when we last confabulated about the life and times of McKinley Hobart “Mack” Sauer (1896-1960), we talked about how the Highland County legend wrote books, ran newspapers and was a nationally known humorist, speaker and radio personality.

My cousin, Ellen Pennington, penned a feature article on Mack Sauer in Highland County Magazine back in 1997 where she interviewed Sauer’s two children, Ann Sauer Montgomery and Mack Sauer Jr., who both passed away in 2016.

“Dad was a whirlwind of activity,” Mack Jr. told Ellen, “running several newspapers and a radio station, writing books and speaking his Will Rogers-type messages all over the nation. Yet, he and mother always found time for Ann and me. We never wanted for love or guidance.”

In fact, the book “Ramblings and Rumblings” that we mentioned last week was dedicated to the memory of Sauer’s first wife, Edith, who passed away in September of 1949.

Edith had taken an active role assisting in her husband’s endeavors, filling in as needed at both the newspaper and on the morning radio program, “Breakfast at Sauer’s.”

The two were quite compatible and enjoyed the marriage and their family. Edith’s death left a tremendous void in Sauer’s life. A year later, he married Mrs. Ayleene Dowell, who was remembered for the Christmas fruitcakes she prepared annually for Sauer’s Leesburg Citizen advertisers.

The latter pages of Sauer’s “Ramblings and Rumblings” include reprints of some of his outrageous April Fool’s Day yarns. Mack Sauer loved a good joke, and once a year he liked to see just how closely subscribers were reading his paper.

Outrageous front page headlines and a questionable story start would be continued on another page, where the reader would find the words, “April Fool’s.”

“When the weekly edition of the Citizen falls on April 1st, we usually give our readers an April Fool’s yarn,” Sauer writes in introduction. “On the following pages are a few ‘foolers’ we have used. We also print a reproduction of a page ad we carried in our Dec. 29, 1938 issue, when we offered $20,000 for the first quintuplets born in the vicinity of Leesburg.

“This baby offer made Walter Winchell’s Sunday night program and was mentioned by practically every daily newspaper and radio station in the United States.”

“Fooler” examples include: “Announcement that the Duke of Windsor, former King of England, had purchased the Milner homestead, near Leesburg, was made late yesterday by Dr. H.H. Lowe, Leesburg physician, friend of Mrs. Wally Simpson, who next month will become bride of the former king.”

An unrelated headline declares, “Adolf Hitler Held In Wilmington Jail; Has Been Working At Clinton County Air Field As Laborer.”

Mack Sauer was rated as one of America’s top speakers and spoke at thousands of school commencements, civic, business and social gatherings all over the state.

Sauer loved to travel and was the featured speaker at events in 38 states, Canada and Cuba. He was an entertaining speaker and as much of a practical joker in his speeches as he was in his newspaper.

Mack Jr. said his father would sometimes show up wearing ragged clothes at speaking events where he wasn’t well-known.

He would not introduce himself and would wait to be ushered to a seat near the back while the master of ceremonies watched uneasily for the speaker to arrive. When the master of ceremonies finally took the stage and started to make apologies that speaker Mack Sauer hadn’t arrived, the shabbily-dressed Sauer would approach the podium, say a few words and would launch into his speech.

Another ploy of Sauer’s was to start his speech in a hoarse, irritatingly raspy voice, with which he would launch into a story about a miracle cure. He would take a sip from his water glass as an illustration and his voice would be miraculously restored.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week with more on the life and times of Mack Sauer.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.