With the flick of her wrist, a teenage girl in Vernal, Utah, threw a dart at a map of the United States, a twist of fate that sent a CBS News correspondent and his photographer to the spot where the dart landed -- Brainerd.
Steve Hartman, a CBS News correspondent, and Les Rose, a CBS photographer, spent the last four days on the west shore of Gull Lake taping a segment of Hartman's popular bimonthly news feature, "Everybody Has A Story."
The premise of the news segment is simple: Everybody has a story and it is Hartman's job to find out what that story is. Every two weeks Hartman travels to wherever the dart sticks on the map. He goes to the nearest city, finds a phone book and picks 10 phone numbers at random. Then Hartman and Rose spend a few days with the first person or family he calls who takes him up on his offer to tell their story to a national audience.
Before he leaves, Hartman has the person throw another dart at the map to determine where he will go next.
Gunsbury then stood with his back toward the map and threw another dart while CBS photographer Les Rose taped him. After five tries, a dart landed in Jefferson County, Oregon. This is now the site of Hartman's next story assignment for his CBS News segment, "Everybody Has A Story." (Dispatch Photo by Steve Kohls)
On Monday, Hartman was standing at a phone booth near the Blue Ox in Brainerd, attempting to find an area resident to follow around for a few days. A few people weren't home or didn't answer the phone. Beth Sellnow, Brainerd, answered Hartman's call, but declined to participate.
It takes Hartman an average of eight phone calls to find a willing subject. It has taken as many as 44 calls. Of the 68 segments he has done, this was the first time a dart sent Hartman to Minnesota.
On Monday night, Hartman called Jane and Alan Gunsbury, owners of the Quarterdeck Resort and Restaurant on Gull Lake. The Gunsburys told Hartman they would take him up on his offer. He said he'd be there in 45 minutes.
"We've had strange calls from time to time but it sounded plausible, what he was offering," said Jane Gunsbury. "We've just about seen it all. When you've been in this type of business for 25 years, what's so traumatic? Nothing can be that tough, right?"
Hartman and Rose arrived at the Gunsburys' Boathouse Eatery Monday night. Jane said they've been a part of their lives ever since.
For the next few days, Hartman and Rose followed the Gunsburys around the resort, interviewing their children and friends. They checked into rooms at the resort on Tuesday, which allowed them a chance to spend more time with their subjects. They were expected to leave the Brainerd area today.
"The dart hits Minnesota and you want to hit a typical Minnesota setting and look where we ended up," said Hartman, of the resort. "We could have been in a dry cleaner in Duluth."
Hartman may be a familiar face in Minnesota. Ten years ago he was a reporter at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul where he worked for three years.
"These are the neatest guys you'd meet in the world," said Alan Gunsbury, of Hartman and Rose. "I think it's just been a fun experience. It was a way to get closer to Jane and tell her how much I love her. It makes you reflect on where you've been."
"Literally, anyone in America could be in this segment," explained Hartman, who said he has made many friends across the U.S. through his job. "One day when I retire I'll retire and travel cross country in a Winnebago and always have a place to plug into.
You can't help but make fast friends."
Hartman said his segment with the Gunsburys will likely talk about how the Gunsburys dealt with the fire that destroyed their well-known Quarterdeck restaurant four years ago. The segment will also talk about the love the couple has for each other and the experiences they've shared together as a married couple for 44 years and as resort owners.
Ironically, the segment with the Gunsburys will air July 13, the fourth anniversary of the Quarterdeck fire.
On Wednesday night with Gull Lake as a backdrop, Alan Gunsbury stood with his back to a U.S. map and threw a dart. It took five tries, but the sixth dart landed on the location of Hartman's next story assignment: Jefferson County, Oregon. He and Rose will be headed there this week.
Before Gunsbury threw the dart, Hartman ceremoniously presented him with a gift -- the dart that the teen-age girl threw in Utah that brought Hartman to the Gunsburys' resort.
"Everybody Has A Story" airs every other Friday on "The Early Show" and the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather." If you miss it, it also airs the following Saturday morning on "The Saturday Early Show."
The television segment of the Utah girl hitting Brainerd on a map with a dart will air June 29. The segment with the Gunsburys airs July 13.
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