By Norris Chambers

             My first newspaper memories were of the comic section – Mutt and Jeff was a favorite as well as The Gumps, The Katzenjammer Kids, Maggie and Jiggs, Winnie Winkle,  Gasoline Alley, Wash Tubbs. Tom and Huck and a little later Dick Tracy, Popeye etc. Most of these comics were both daily and Sunday.

            The daily comics were displayed much larger then than now. The strip usually was the same width as the newspaper page. The Sunday comics used a whole page to display one or two comics. Some older readers find it difficult to read the conversation in some of the tiny comics that are now printed so small.

            The delivery of newspapers in the country was not easy and in many areas a daily newspaper arrived two or three days late. In case of a heavy rain the mail was even later. The unpaved country roads were almost unusable after a rain and the rural mail carriers did not attempt to deliver during rainy periods.

            In our part of the country the Fort Worth Star Telegram was available by mail for six or seven dollars a year. Other daily papers were offered at lower prices. We subscribed to the Waco Times Herald for three or four dollars a year. It arrived a day late but published the national and world news and presented a very good assortment of comics, including a colored Sunday section.

            Just about every little town had a local newspaper. Most of these were printed weekly and were distributed to subscribers in the town and in the surrounding trade territory. A few larger towns published a newspaper twice each week – these were called “semi-weekly papers”.

            In just about every community someone wrote a news column for the closest paper. These columns usually told about someone’s kin folks visiting from another area or a local resident being sick. Of course there was an occasional marriage to report and a death now and then. Sometimes news was so scarce that a new calf being born or a horse with a broken leg was something that was newsworthy!

            The local papers were glad to get these columns because it helped to get subscribers. The community families wanted to know what the gossip column said about them as well as their neighbors.

            When I was a junior in high school the editor of a nearby newspaper generously allowed us to enter several columns each week as a school newspaper. I called the publication The Tiger since the sports teams originating in our institution were called Tigers. The teams in the nearby town where the newspaper was published were called Buffalos. They soon started a section in the newspaper appropriately called The Bison. Most country schools published at least one newspaper edition during the year. When I was in the ninth grade I went to a different school where the teams were known as the Bulldogs.  The newspaper we printed that year was called the Bow Wow. Another county school called their sports teams Dragons. Their newspaper was named The Fire Box.

            Discarded newspapers were used for several useful projects. Many school students brought their lunches wrapped in newspapers. Paper bags were not plentiful and with a large family they were just not available for a one way trip to school. Newspapers were sometimes used on the old plank walls of houses instead of wall paper. The papers were glued on the walls and served to keep cold air out on cold winter days. During the kite season newspapers did high flying as the primary kite construction material.

            A newspaper sometimes served as a fly swatter! When a paper was properly folded no fly was agile enough to escape a swift whack from an ambitious fly chaser. With the proper know-how a newspaper section could be folded neatly into a beautiful dunce cap if such a cap were needed.

            The final contribution of a newspaper was to serve as kitchen stove fuel. The papers were soaked in a tub of water until very pliable, then rolled and twisted into convenient lengths for stove wood. After thoroughly drying and curing these sticks of paper made excellent fuel for a quick pot of coffee or a full bacon and egg breakfast.

            What are modern newspapers used for after delivering their messages?  Most of the newspapers now help fill a recycling bin and eventually are resurrected for future use.

            The question must be asked – were newspapers a lot of fun? The answer would definitely be “YES!”