When the Tampa Bay Times published the obituary of Sam Hall on September 4, 2014 (he died August 11, 2014), I was reminded of a Q&A interview that Connie May Fowler–then still going by her pre-best-selling novelist name, Constance May–wrote for Jump Monthly magazine. Jump was a Tampa Bay area, city-style magazine that I published for four issues. And the Sam Hall story was on the cover of the fourth and final issue. It was a great conversation with the former Olympian, Dayton, Ohio, mayor and two-term member of the Ohio State House of Representatives who went on to be a hugely controversial figure as a self-proclaimed counter-terrorist/soldier of freedom.
The irony of the situation between Hall and Fowler was that her fame as a writer a decade later eclipsed his as a figure involved in Ronald Reagan-era Iran-Contra scandal. When Hall died, he was a little-remembered man, a footnote in geopolitical history. By contrast, Fowler today is the Oprah Winfrey endorsed author of Before Women Had Wings, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, and many more successful literary titles.
As a side note, before publication of this interview, Connie May and I were good friends. She kept me busy with assignments when she was editor of a regional computer newspaper, The Data Bus–where I eventually succeeded her–and when I started Jump, she conducted this interview for me for free. To be honest, Connie May absolutely hated the headlines I put on the cover, “Bungle in the Jungle: The Private Wars of Sam Hall,” and on the inside, “Send Lawyers, Guns & Money: For Soldier of Freedom Sam Hall, Happiness is a Warm Gun. Shoot, Shoot.” In my defense, I was trying to be provocative, trying to attract eyeballs, trying to stay in business.
Connie May ripped me a new one over my choice of words and hasn’t spoken to me since, although for the last few years we have been friends on Facebook, so I’m hoping she’s no longer mad and that sharing this 27 years later won’t reopen the rift. As for Hall, he made one threatening call to me about it, but nothing else happened. I suspect he gave her a load of crap about it, which set her off on me.
I’m sharing this here, now, because Hall has died and history still hasn’t definitively made up its mind about the guy. And I still think Connie May did a bang-up job dealing with this mystery wrapped inside of an Iran-Contra enigma. — Bob Andelman