Where have you been Wild Bill Cooper? Are you still living? It’s rumored that your cohorts from the short-lived Marijuana Air Force planted you with the cactus somewhere down in Mexico. But I figure if the U.S. Marshals Service put you on America’s Ten Most Wanted List, and failed to capture you, it’s highly doubtful your associates south of the border succeeded either.
No, you would be more likely to dig in with your Eskimo friends in some remote village where no one would ever find you. Many say you went deep into Canada where you had contacts and lived out a quiet, unassuming life. But that’s really not your style either.
I heard once that one of your old buddies spotted you in a casino in Las Vegas. Now that was your style. You loved to gamble and often sponsored legendary card games at your bar in Willow River.
Although you refused to surrender and, after almost four decades, are still a free man, I can only wonder what kind of freedom it was. Was your adventurous spirit tamed? I highly doubt it. It reminds me of this quote from another well known Cooper.
The rugged movie star from the Old West, Gary Cooper, once stated, “You’ve got to have a fire under you, and when you’re beginning, you’ve got one all the time. After you get established, you have to create your own fire, and it’s never easy.”
Bill, just how did you keep your fires burning after escaping the long arm of the law for all those years? Some say you were D.B. Cooper, the hijacker who escaped with a quarter-million dollars courtesy of Northwest Airlines. Although you didn’t fit the profile, it sure fit your style.
Although Wild Bill Cooper hasn’t been seen around these parts for close to four decades, he will be seen at the Lake Theater in Moose Lake, Minnesota next Wednesday and Thursday evenings, November 14th and 15th at 7:00 PM, thanks to independent filmmaker Mike Scholz. Scholz’s award-winning documentary called “Wild Bill’s Run” takes us back to 1972 where a crowd gathered in Willow River to send Wild Bill and cronies off on a crazy, dangerous, bold adventure called the Trans-World Snowmobile Expedition from Minnesota to Moscow.
You liked to live life on the edge, Bill Cooper. If you could somehow sneak in to the Lake Theater for the question and answer session following the movie, I’m willing to bet you would get on stage and regale your old friends with Wild Bill Cooper stories for weeks. Then you would slip out the back door, commandeer a Piper Cub and fly off into the sunset.
See you next week in Moose Lake, Bill. Locals, please bring your questions and stories to share about American folk hero Wild Bill Cooper from Willow River, Minnesota.