NEWSPAPERS WORE MANY HATS
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
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
newspaper we printed that year was called the Bow Wow. Another county school called their sports teams Dragons.
Their newspaper was named The Fire
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!”