Sunday, December 28, 2008

Imagining the town and the Argus as my father thought of them

None of the new characters in Chapter 5 of Farewell Bend had real life counterparts. But my memories and others that my father shared with me when we talked about what happened in our small Western town inspired the action in this account.

To read the chapter at the blog, double click the title of this posting when looking at the actual RememberingtheArgus blog.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Only the weed patch is gone

The setting for the duck hunting adventures in Chapter 4 remains much the same except for the undeveloped plot of land that’s described as the author’s hunting ground. The last time the author visited the site that area had been turned into row crop land. But the large pipe carrying irrigation water across the Malheur River at this spot remains in used. It’s up to the reader to decide how much of this day’s adventure actually happened. Much of it, as I recall. But then we’re dealing with an old man’s memories here.
--- To go to the chapter at Farewell Bend the Novel double click on the headline to this item.

Monday, December 15, 2008

At the time I thought it was blasphemy

The words that open this chapter, which sounded so startling to the author when he was 17 and riding on the bus to what he viewed as the ultimate Ontario-Vale game, now seem a bit common. I’m more familiar what might come from the mouth of a teenager whose angry that he’s not getting any playing time in football, soccer, basketball or baseball --- the sport the grandkids play. I hear the gossip about their teams. I know the way kids think from the perspective of a lifetime of getting used to the human condition. But in the fall of 1955 when I heard them from another player, not especially a close friend, they shocked me enough that I have never forgotten them. From the time my classmates and I attended junior high in Ontario we planned and plotted how we were going to win our football games against Vale. This chapter does not exaggerate the significance of that game to the town folks. And those kinds of high school football rivalries continue to this day in many small towns. For Ontario kids, the town that goes by the fictional name of Farewell Bend in the novel, the Vale game now means less. It’s not even a conference game. Actually that was changed not long after my class graduated.

At a more personal level, this chapter begins to develop the relationship between the narrator and his best friend, who is based on number of good friends from that time. But the thing I always tell readers when they ask about Peter Sanger is that he is more another side of me than any one friend from those years. The events the two characters get involved with may or may not have happened in real life, but the dialogue between the two is mostly a meditation with myself.

To read Chapter 3 go to the blog Farewell Bend the Novel using the link at the right.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More truth than fiction in latest installment

Chapter Two, which introduces both the family and the newspaper,contains a lot more truth than fiction. The dialogue and up front action is fictional, of course,but much of it is based on events I remember but couldn’t duplicate more than fifty years later. The Farley Hotel, as anyone who read the prologue knows, was a very real place. The story of the arrests there is based on a true account of such a raid, though it occurred in that early 50's time frame but a different year than the fall of 1954. The family relationships, as most readers would guess, are pretty close to those tensions in the family in which the author was raised.

To link to Chapter 2 click on the headline to this blog item or follow the link at the right to Farewell Bend the novel.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chapter 1 is a look back based on three trips to Ontario

This chapter is a fictionalization of three trips I made to Ontario, Oregon over the last decade or so. Two were for reunions of the Ontario High School Class of 1956, which is of course the model for many of the events and characters in the book. But as much fact as there is in the story, it is fiction. The characters are a blend of people as I remember some of them and thus become, in truth, figments of my imagination. Readers are supposed to realize that the narrator is looking back on life from advancing old age, putting his memories in place and trying to make peace with the present and the past --- which is what I would think we all do at high school reunions, as we wonder about who will be next to cross over.

To go to Chapter 1, click on the title of this entry in the actual “rememberingtheargus” blog. Or follow the link at the side to FarewellBendtheNovel.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fund raising efforts were to begin for injured Nyssa football player Louie Vandrell Jr.

Louis Vandrell Jr., a Nyssa freshman football player injured Oct. 5, 1953 in a football game with Vale was reported improving in a Boise hospital, where he was taken with a spinal injury.
The Oct. 15, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer quoted Nyssa schools Supt. Henry Hartley that the swelling had been reduced and “there was less paralysis.”

Meanwhile students and civic groups across the county began a fundraising effort to pay for Vandrell’s treatment. Wayne Chestnut of Nyssa, co-chairman of the fund-raising effort, said Vale students were particularly generous in their donations to the Vandrell fund, contributing $861.

The Argus Observes – Welcoming a fourth semi-weekly newspaper in the state. But it isn’t for the money

From the Oct. 19, 1953 edition of the Ontario Argus-Observer

By Don Lynch

The Argus-Observer, along with Oregon’s two other semi-weeklies, is to have a distinguished companion.

The Hillsboro Argus has announced that it will publish semi-weekly beginning the first of November.

As Oregon’s most outstanding weekly newspaper, it will bring prestige to the semi-weekly field. Through the years, semi-weeklies have been considered a sort of hybrid operation, a cross between a weekly and a daily that many publishers have considered impractical. . . .

The Sentinel-Mist at St. Helens was the first of Oregon’s present twice-a-week newspapers. Jessica Longston and Robert Pollock who came to the Eastern Oregon Observer in Ontario from the Sentinel-Mist were apparently well sold on the semi-weekly operation. They soon converted the Observer to semi-weekly and the Argus converted some five months later in order to compete better with the Observer. Actually neither of the papers was large enough to support semi-weekly operation.

During the competing operation the Argus was losing several hundred dollars a month. I just naturally assumed from its larger volume of business that the Observer was making money, but discovered after they were consolidated that it too had been losing money. . . .

Two or three years later the Lebanon Express changed from weekly to semi-weekly publication . . . .

The Hillsboro Argus serves about twice as large a region as we have in Ontario. Although the town is only slightly larger, the rural area is densely populated and the Argus has nearly twice the circulation of the Argus-Observer. . . .

Semi-weekly publishers are almost uniform in their opinion that they make no more profit from two papers than they would from one. I feel sure this is true of Oregon’s semi-weeklies. . . .

It is in the news that the service really is improved. I think that a good semi-weekly often does a better news job and almost as timely as the smallest of the dailies. It is here that the semi-weekly really has its strength.

Ontario is a minimum town for semi-weekly publication. At times we have feared it would not sustain a high enough level of business to maintain the semi-weekly expense. Actually, it if could be weekly for the first three months of the year and semi-weekly for the balance of the year, it would fit the flow of business to support it.

(Editor’s Note: An Internet search suggests the Ontario Argus-Observer may be the only one of these newspapers that survived to become a small, six-day-a-week daily. The Hillsborough Argus web pages, which are combined at the web site with the Portland Oregonian, suggest that newspaper may have survived as a strange semi-weekly. The Hillsborough paper’s news stories are posted at the Oregon Live site only on Thursday and Friday. As for the other 1950-era semi-weeklies in Oregon, the Lebanon Express has apparently reverted to weekly publication from the issue dates listed on its web site. And the St. Helens Sentinel Mist has no web site, though it is still listed on the web by its address. These outcomes fifty-five years later were no doubt influenced by urbanization patterns and competition from nearby dailies. They show that, in the community newspaper business, as in many other fields, what seems to be true one decade may not be true a decade or two later. – Larry Lynch)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chapter 2 -- How Dad treated the Farley Hotel in his small town paper

District Attorney Plans
Abatement of Houses
Abatement proceedings will be instituted against Farewell Bend’s houses of prostitution, District Attorney E. Otis Smith said this morning.
“I’m going to do all I can to abate these places,” he said. “I want to close them up. The girls may be out of town by now, and I don’t know what effect that will have on the evidence. But I think we’ve got good evidence.”
This official reaction followed raids early Friday evening on Farewell Bend’s historic bawdy house, the Farley hotel, and the Snake River Hotel on the East Side.
The raids were conducted by Sheriff John Elfering with the assistance of Farewell Bend city police who helped in booking the girls and the operators of the establishments.
Two special investigators from Portland were brought to Malheur County by Sheriff Elfering to obtain the actual evidence for the arrests. They were officers from the force of Terry Schrunk, sheriff of Multnomah County.
Posing as hunters, they entered the hotels and secured the evidence needed, then made the arrests for the Malheur sheriff’s office.
Helen Guyer, proprietor of the Farley hotel, was charged with “keeping a bawdy house,” as was Sue Morgan, operator of the East Side establishment.
The maid at the Farley was also arrested and charged with vagrancy. Five girls from the Snake River Hotel, allegedly prostitutes, were arrested on a charge of vagrancy. The girls were booked on “Jane Doe” warrants and did not themselves appear in court.
The two proprietors posted $150 bail each and the girls posted $100 bail each, for a total of $900 of bail money posted in the justice court of Judge Thos. Jones.
Mayor Frank Popper said this morning that he was “shocked” to learn that houses of prostitution have been operating in Farewell Bend. He went on to add that prostitution has been a recurrent problem.
His reaction sketched the nature of the task that faces District Attorney Smith. Farewell Bend was widely known as a center of prostitution before World War II. During the war the illicit industry was closed for a time. In the decade since the war, there has been intermittent operation except for one year when organized, commercial prostitution was stamped out by abatement proceedings.
Such proceedings are brought against the property instead of individuals, making it possible to padlock the property, taking it out of use for a year.
In former years, this has been the only effective method of restricting prostitution here.
–—From The Argus-Observer Oct. 17, 1954

“You didn’t tell me about closing down the Farley,” I yelled from the couch where I was reading that day’s issue of The Argus-Observer. I spoke as my father headed out the door for his usual Monday night turn at the office, preparing fresh layouts to take to the street on Tuesday to sell for Thursday’s publication.
Dad would not want to talk about the Farley Hotel with my mother listening, but I wanted to see how he would respond.
The bounce in his step slowed for a moment as he turned his rounded shoulders in my direction and made his dark brown eyes look vague behind rimless glasses.
I did not understand why women liked him as much as they did. He could be a great listener, but his looks were ordinary middle-aged except that his right cheek was slimmer than the left, from a bout of polio he had as a child. He’d been skinny as a young man and now carried what he called a “small tire” around his middle. His best feature was a full head of black wavy hair that, at forty, was lightly sprinkled with grey.
From a half-open front door, with the cold night air rushing in, he stared over my head.
“Not now, Jack,” he said. “Have you checked the stoker to be sure there’s enough coal? It’s getting real cold these nights.” He tried to smile, though it came out looking like a grimace.
“You really ought to be doing the dishes. You can read about the Farley later,” he said.
“How late are you going to be, James?” my mother yelled from the kitchen.
“The usual. Nine or nine-thirty.”
Dad quickly closed the door, slamming it to get on his way.
I rolled off the couch and groaned. My brother, Kevin, was in his room downstairs. He said he was studying. I was puzzled by how much time he spent studying. I couldn’t remember that I’d had much homework in seventh grade. I didn’t know then that Kevin was paying close attention to our parent’s debating my chances of getting into Stanford with my lackluster grades. He was making sure he avoided that problem, and from the vantage of fifty years later, it’s clear that he succeeded.
I wandered into the kitchen. My mother was still wearing a black skirt and ruffled white blouse from her Soroptimist meeting that afternoon, but she’d slipped a slightly spattered pink apron over the top and shed her hose. In flat slippers, her ankles always looked thick to me, but that evening she had not yet removed her makeup and her brown curls were neatly combed out. With her delicate jaw line and small nose, she looked like the “so pretty” mother my friends complimented me about.
“What do you think?” I asked. “About the Farley?”
“I don’t care what they do with the Farley. I’m worried about what your father does when he goes down to that office on Monday nights.”
“He’s working ads.”
She nodded at me like she wanted me to go check.
“You go,” I said.
“Call Pete and get him to go with you. Develop some of those photos you said he’s shooting to impress your dad,” she ordered.
That was not a bad idea. I would not report to her if my father wasn’t in the office, but she didn’t need to know that.
“And remember to tell Pete you’re going with us on Sunday. No going hunting,” she shouted after me as I headed to the phone.
I didn’t argue. That fall, I was sixteen and preferred to spend Sunday morning crashing through thickets behind The Butte with my friend Pete Sanger. Instead, I would ride along on the hour drive to Caldwell that next Sunday to make sure Mom and Dad did not have the final, big fight Kevin and I worried about. Mother had taken to staying away from home one or two nights every couple of months. She would never tell me or Kevin where she went. Each time, we worried she was not coming back.
Our parents were engaged in a running argument over whether Dad would bring her into the office to work as the bookkeeper, replacing the woman who was leaving. He resisted her effort to take over the job. The memory of her first attempt, two years earlier, was discouragingly fresh. For weeks at a stretch, she had failed to make the books balance at month’s end. Everyone around her, including the staff, suffered through her frustrated blow-ups. She also bossed the employees if she saw one do anything she didn’t like. It could be a task they had been doing their way for years. I saw their faces go tense, and they shook their heads when she turned her back.
My father knew better than to bring up any of that. Instead, he said he wanted to take one thing at a time. He was afraid he’d have to fire the news editor for drinking on the job and for being late all the time.
Dad had been running the Farewell Bend paper for eight years and similar arguments were becoming frequent. As Kevin grew older – he was twelve the summer I turned sixteen – my mother became more and more bored hanging out at home. She was angered at her failure to be elected president of the Soroptimists. After that, she decided that the action that interested her was downtown at our family’s newspaper.
And she had trouble conceding that was my father’s domain.
My parents had met at the College of Idaho in Caldwell and married in 1937 after my mother, Anna Larsen, graduated and taught school for a year. My father, James Kavanagh, started out the marriage recruiting for a Boise business school, got involved with the woman who owned it, and gave up the job. He tried moving our family to San Francisco, where he sold classified ads on commission for The Chronicle. That was too much of a struggle, and we returned to Idaho. Dad managed to stay out of uniform during the war because of two sons and bad eyesight while he tried meter reading and teaching school. None of it fit. Then in 1944, with the help of a friend who was leaving The Nampa Free Press for Field and Stream magazine in New York, he took over his friend’s job as a combination ad salesman and sports writer for the small Nampa, Idaho daily. He liked the work. He’d been a student politician in college and found that he’d learned some lessons which could be applied to small town ad sales. He and Mortimer Longshire, the Nampa publisher, got along well because Dad catered to Longshire’s superior intelligence. After two years in the Nampa job, Longshire staked him to part ownership of The Argus, one of two weeklies in Farewell Bend. The Nampa publisher was hoping to grow his business interests, betting that the southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon economies were starting to come back from the wartime doldrums.
When we moved to Farewell Bend, I paid little attention to the newspaper. I was trying to fit into a new school. But I couldn’t help but sense, even as young as eight, that those first months running The Argus were tough on my father.
I did not know why. I guessed later that it was partly because he had no role model for such an endeavor. His father was a musically inclined schoolmaster who came to Idaho from the Mississippi border country. Granddad Kavanagh lost a small investment in an ill-advised high desert development venture, then turned to teaching in a one room school house that my father attended. Granddad did not spare the rod, at school or at home. As a result, the two were never close. But my father blossomed under the tutelage of his mother, a striking, large-boned woman descended from Irish scholars and successful soldiers.
Mother’s parents were hard-scrabble farmers. Her father’s father came to America as a Norwegian cabin boy who jumped ship in Boston, married a girl he picked up there and headed cross country in a covered wagon in the 1870s. They could not afford train fare. One of their five sons, my mother’s father, O.J., became the man in my life I most admired. He bought a farm as a young man, lost it, tenant farmed for a while, then acquired his own dairy farm and found a way to raise a smart, strong daughter and send her to four years of college. Mom’s mom, Clara, was of French stock and as tough as O.J. She labored day in and day out over her small share of the farm devoted to her chickens. And the huge meals she put out for the neighbors on hay-stacking day were prepared with gusto despite a foot sore that would never heal. From her, I remember no complaints, ever, until O.J.’s funeral when the minister said, “No one who is with God ever dies alone.” At that my mother’s mother set up a wailing cry that still rings in my ears, for she and O.J. never went to church. I don’t think he was the kind to make an artificial peace with God.
Grandmother’s crying was so loud that I couldn’t ride to the cemetery alongside her in the hearse. I convinced my mother to let me ride with Uncle Jim. But Kevin, Mom, and Dad went with Grandmother Larsen. Kevin told me later he calmed her down by joking about how she used to scare him when she turned headless chickens loose to flop around on the back porch of her farmhouse. Kevin at twelve was developing some skills at handling family life, ignoring it or joking about it as long as the problems didn’t involve our mother. He never joked about her. He was definitely not the same kid at twelve as the one who threw a pocket knife at me at four. Nor the one whose neighborhood wrestling matches I managed when he was five and six, shortly after we moved to Farewell Bend. By age twelve he’d given up collecting a huge sack of all the marbles he won from his pals and had begun instead to relieve them of their spare change in poker games.
As the year 1946 came to a close, these changes were yet to evolve.
That December my father came to the purchase of the Farewell Bend Argus with a strong wife, a combination of sales expertise and some of the skills of a politician, and a determination to make his mark on the world. But he had limited business skills. Those he learned at the elbow of Longshire, who contributed deep pockets and a gambler’s leap of faith.
Years later, Dad would tell me that before he and Longshire took over, the flow of business at The Argus was so slow the phone never rang once as they sat in the weekly’s office haggling over the details of the purchase for two hours. That bothered Longshire, but it didn’t scare him off.
The day my father became publisher, he asked one of his three printers why the paper’s storefront entrance at the slow end of Oregon Street was not locked overnight.
“Why lock the door? There’s nothing here worth stealing,” the printer answered.
“And he was right,” Dad later recalled. “There it was. My world. A jerky little press that would only print two pages at a time, an old, old Model 5 Linotype used for setting news text and legal notices, a rickety folder, two California type-cases for hand setting headlines and the large type used in ads, a lead pot, a composition stone, a work bench, and a Wing mailer. It all had a wonderful, dirty smell of ink, hot lead, burnt paper, and grease.”
I liked the smell. But I hated the racket the machinery produced late on the evening of publication day, pounding my ears as I waited with my four-year-old brother while our parents struggled to get that day’s issue in the mail.
A decade after his purchase of The Argus, my father knew that the process of producing a newspaper would soon change dramatically. The photographic production of newspapers by the offset process was getting started in a few community newspaper operations. But during his years in Farewell Bend, he failed to foresee anything like the computer-based production of newspapers that requires minimal human intervention as stories move from reporter’s terminal through computer-operated editing and composition to the high speed presses of today.
In the crowded old Argus plant, a printer hand fed a small press with a huge roller. To get four pages the operator turned the sheets over and sent them through a second time. That old press roared as it spun on its axis, then groaned when it was stopped or restarted. When the folder was fired up, it added exponentially to the cacophony, clanging away, folding and stuffing the printed sheets into something that resembled a newspaper – when it didn’t shred them. A printer stood on a platform at the side of the press, feeding huge sheets of paper into place, and I can still see my father’s nervous gratitude when some copies actually emerged intact from the folder. In the front office, Kevin and I entertained ourselves running around the dirty counter facing the front door. Or we looked for whatever mysterious gadget we could dig out of the desk drawer inside Dad’s crowded publisher’s cubicle next to the stacks of back issues that lined a dirty green walkway heading into the back shop.
From the outset, the new partners planned to buy out the small town’s competing weekly, the Eastern Oregon Observer. Longshire put up money for my father to undercut the competition’s ad sales. The two of them practically gave away ad space in The Argus. They also arranged for their newspaper to be delivered to everyone in town, whether paid for or not. Their final commitment came in June of 1947, less than six months after they took over, when they followed the lead of The Observer by beginning to publish twice a week, a move that my father questioned later and sometimes regretted. But he never backed away from it.
Elmo Smith, who ran that competing weekly, was someone my father had known growing up in Caldwell. By the time Dad and Longshire took over The Argus, Smith was looking for a way out of town. He had started The Observer just before World War II, made a success of it, and then sold it in 1945 to a woman named Louisa Henderson who aimed to build up a chain of weekly papers across the West. Smith had agreed to stay on at The Observer for her for a time, but he was anxious to move on, and it turned out he would soon buy a community newspaper in the central part of the state.
For her part, Henderson decided the best way to compete with the new publishers of The Argus was to hire my dad away from Longshire. She sent Smith to make the pitch and offered my father whatever it would take to get him to quit Longshire.
Dad was proud of the answer he gave: “There isn’t enough money in the world to make me quit Longshire.”
As my father told the story, Smith smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I expected to hear.”
Shortly after that, Longshire offered Henderson more money than The Observer was worth. She agreed to sell.
Within a few months, our family’s day-to-day financial situation improved. Longshire arranged for a local businessman to put up a new building to house The Argus-Observer. Dad bought a better car, trading in our ’42 Ford on a nearly new Pontiac sedan. And fewer of my jeans had patches sewn on the knees.
My father could finally enjoy his ad calls up and down main street. He was the publisher of the only paper in town. He had the final say as to what was news. But his business headaches – mostly involving how to keep a back shop running with country printers and unreliable equipment – always were a nagging presence.
At least once a month, we would climb into the Pontiac and head to Nampa for Sunday dinner with the Longshires. He was a large man with a barrel chest and the biggest bald head I’d ever seen. His family lived in a well-crafted, aging Nampa home with a wide front porch and big rooms full of dark cabinets and over-stuffed chairs. At those dinners, Longshire dominated the conversation. He had no interest in a comment from anyone but my father. When my mother offered up a business suggestion, he always ignored her. She swallowed her anger and kept quiet, but on the drive home she’d chew on my father for ten minutes. “How can you let that man show no courtesy to me? I’m your wife, for God’s sake.”
During these front-seat fights, Kevin and I would stop punching each other and watch from behind as our father quietly fumed. We couldn’t relax and start pestering each other again until Mom fell silent and Dad managed to change the subject.
I began working at the paper when I was ten, hauling a few bundles of freshly inked newspapers to the bus depot and to neighborhood groceries, drug stores, and coffee shops. Downtown I covered on foot. I would gather up an order or two and head out of the back door of the plant past a one-room jail that sat behind city hall. Occasionally, I stopped to jaw with a drunk who was still stuck inside come late afternoon. By the time I was in junior high, I used to pick up an extra dollar now and then by making a cigarette run for the guys drying out in the old jail. One day a printer saw me making the exchange, and my father put a stop to the cigarette runs with a threat to bar me from playing on the junior high basketball team.
The next jobs my father assigned me proved harder: painting the back shop, pouring castings of hot lead in the stereotype room, stuffing papers.
In 1952, things changed at the newspaper. Longshire sold his interest in The Argus-Observer to my parents to help finance his purchase of an interest in a major Willamette Valley daily. And that was the year my father hired Hugh Storm as news editor. At the outset, Hugh’s work ethic was good enough that it gave my dad the freedom to do what he’d only dreamed of when Longshire was looking over his shoulder. He began writing a front-page column. It gave him a place to publish observations that ranged well beyond what he felt belonged in an editorial. That was his excuse, at least, for his column, which he called “The Argus Observes” and which he continued to produce off and on for five years.
By the time Hugh Storm had been news editor for more than a year, he was easily my favorite employee at the paper. To function well as a country editor, my dad liked to say, it was necessary to have not only a little flair but also to be a bit independent of what people thought of you. The most independent – certainly the most addicted to hanging out in the local bars – was Hugh, a short, beet-shaped man with nicotine stained fingers, a plump but beak-nosed face, and a rarely employed ability to charm most anyone with a gruff compliment.
When Hugh arrived, the women in the front office learned that he was married but had left his wife in Yakima, Washington, where he lived before he came to Farewell Bend. They soon began asking when she would arrive in town. Hugh’s response was that his wife was a “very, very large woman.” He said he doubted that people in Farewell Bend would accept her.
It turned out, as my father liked to tell the story, that was pure fantasy. When she finally came to town, she was petite and beautiful, my dad said, adding, “I’m really not sure how a guy who looks like Hugh and drinks like a fish ever got such an attractive woman to live with him.”

This was the place for hunters in the 1950s

The Argus-Observer reported in early October of 1953 that the Vale Hotel, a favorite of out of town hunters, was sold by its Portland owner to a new Portland owner, Blanche Straight.

Ms. Straight didn’t need to worry about having a full house, at least the outset.

Charles Crittenden, the manager, said all rooms were full up for the hunting season and one hunter had even sent in a check to rent the storage room where he’d be provided a cot, probably along with some other hunters who would be seeking a place to park their shotguns and tired bodies.

The big draw, Crittenden told the Argus, was the hotel’s special accommodations for 15 to 18 hunting dogs.

The hotel was also remodeled by its previous owner, Dean Vincent, to provide visitors with steam heat or air conditioning, depending on the weather, of course.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

As far as Vale goes, this was Ontario’s year

Given what has been posted here about the prowess of Vale’s football team in years past, it must be noted that the Ontario High Tigers took the Vikings apart on Sept. 12, winning 20-0. Congratulations to new coach Trever Wilson. It looks like he’s got a team to go with for his first year at this head job. (For a link to the Argus game story, try double clicking on the headline above or go to the Argus-Observer site and search for Vale football.)

Nothing lasts forever


The row of buildings along the southern end of Oregon Street which used to and maybe still is Ontario's "main street," still stands in mute testimony to the idea that, for a time, little changes. That's where the Argus was composed and printed when my parents and Bernard Mainwaring bought it in January 1947. Later that year or early in 1948, they moved the combined into Argus-Observer into a new brick plant built especially for the paper on the site that is now a parking lot at the left of this photograph. The surviving six-day a week daily is now printed in a newist plant on the southeast edge of town across from the community college. (To be taken to a photo of the old 1947 plant that was in one of the building still standing, click on the headline of this posting from the main Internet site of this blog, "

Friday, September 5, 2008

The challenge of beating Vale, and other 50's sports stories

Today Vale is a a small ranching town and still the unlikely Malheur County seat. It’s one of those scattered-seeming agricultural communities that cropped up across the West during the first half of the twentieth century. Some died. Vale has hung on. Situated on the edge of the Eastern Oregon desert, it’s not much changed from 1954 when my father penned this column about the able coaches of its dominating high school football team.

Malheur County’s old court house that was built of the same foot-square chunks of jutting grey-black sandstone as my family’s one-time and long-rued Payette home has been replaced by a plastic-paneled building that is equally characteristic of a certain age. The neon lights along A Street still welcome tired cowboys from out Juntura way for Saturday night action. Recent homage to the town’s heritage can be found in the form of a 1900 Sears Roebuck Bed and Breakfast at 484 North 10th Street and the Wilcox Horse & Buggy “Victorian catering service for your wedding transportation needs” at 4587 North Road East. The population, in the year 2000 census, remained stuck just under two thousand. 2,000. In 1954 it was about fifteen hundred.

The football dominance of Vale’s Vikings over Ontario, a town with population that has stayed five times Vale’s, seems to continue largely unchanged since my class at Ontario High graduated in 1956. We expected to break that hold, but failed. That’s a loss most of the class has never forgotten, even those of us who didn’t play in the game. In a way it was only fitting that in September of 2006, while our surviving classmates were in Ontario holding our fiftieth class reunion, the black-suited Vikings traveled to Ontario to power their way to another win.

To attribute Vale’s 2006 prowess to the lingering influence of the men who coached there in the 1950s would seem more than a slight exaggeration. And yet I think my dad’s November 1954 column fell short of aptly noting just how good Cammann was at coaching high school football players and at developing a program that lingered for years. The single tribute he paid Cammann was to note that “Vale has built football into a great tradition and no other person is as responsible as Cammann.”
There was no explanation of why he was so good. Maybe there was no acceptable way to say what he really thought when he had a son coming up through the Ontario football program with a class that everyone in our town expected to end Vale’s nine-year reign the very next year. By reputation, Cammann was a demanding, no nonsense coach who never let up on his kids and never, ever cracked a smile.

I think of myself in relationship to our Vale games as Ontario’s own Dick Nixon. I was fodder at the practices. But I got something beyond more somewhat more humility than Nixon took with him, which of course is not saying much. My humbling experiences as a want-to-be athlete striving alongside the talented kids in my class shaped attitudes I’ve carried through my life, just as their more accomplished victories and significant defeats must have shaped theirs. I learned early to accept that there were a lot of people better than me at baseball, basketball, football, tennis and track, just about any sport I’d decide to try out. And as good as they were, they must have learned that eventually someone would come along who was more adept. That didn’t necessarily mean accepting defeat --- and they didn’t. Not Larry Horyna who went on to play at University of Oregon and become a major force in Oregon’s vocational education programs. Not Jerry Doman who poured his heart onto the field at Oregon State, or Earl and Verl Doman who have nurtured many good players still working their way through the football program at Brigham Young. Not Stanley Olsen who made himself into a leading local architect. Not Junior Evans who became a military aide to the president of the United States, nor Kenneth Osborn who earned a degree in dentistry, came back to town to make his contribution and, the last I knew, was still running the first-down markers when the Ontario Tigers play their football games at home.

For me, failing on the playing field meant learning how to fill the void with other pursuits. That combined with growing up at The Argus-Observer likely dictated my lifelong tie to reporting and writing as a way to be important in the lives of others.

The true benefit of high school efforts is in the player and not in the game. And it can last a lifetime, of course.

My first meaningful sports lesson centered on a home run, or not a home run. The house where I lived in Ontario fronted on a broad, graveled street and was flanked on its south side by a narrow strip of grass. Beyond that strip of grass, a wider swath of open ground ran from the alley to the street. When I was ten, that weedy strip of land made for a passably large baseball diamond through the spring, at least until my parents planted it in summer vegetables.

Most of the pick-up softball games in the neighborhood occurred on that land, with the street serving as the outfield. A home run had to clear the street without getting caught. The foul lines were less distinct, usually running along an imaginary line from home plate to an Elm tree or a fence line across the street.

I almost never hit long balls, not at ten and not at thirty. That was well understood by my nemesis, a big, mean kid with a Huckleberry Finn shock of hair and all the muscles I imagine Huck must have had. He lived in the run-down brick house across the street just behind center field and was playing for the opposing pick-up team that day. When I hit that ball, he announced that it was foul, and I began to scream that it definitely landed fair, inside the tree line.

I would not back down and, since he’d been looking for a good reason to beat on me --- or anyone else younger and smaller --- Huck-personified had no need to give in. With half a dozen neighborhood kids looking on, I weighed in fists flying, struggling to trip him to the ground. Instead, I ended up on my back looking up at a canopy of leaves and the cooling evening sky just outside our kitchen window, unable to move and feeling like I was being choked to death. I looked over to see my mother watching out the window and grimaced hard, hoping to convince her to put a stop to the fight, stalling for as much time as I could. She never showed. I thought I might pass out before I could force got out the words “Uncle! I give up! Let me up!” And I before I was actually freed, I had to agree the ball was foul.

At dinner I asked my mother why she hadn’t helped me out.
“You need to learn to fend for yourself,” she said.

By my sophomore year in high school, I had developed an understanding of my place in the athletic hierarchy of the Ontario High Class of ’56. I thought of basketball as my best sport, but the farm boys that attended country schools came to town for high school, and 6’ 5” Julian Laca was among them. The class behind us had at least five kids who were as good as I was on the court, most of them better, and I knew they’d be the ones the coaches would want to give game experience. Still, when I was cut from the frosh-soph traveling squad as a sophomore, I mooned around the school hallways, hiding out at various unused entrances, all during the lunch hour that the list went up. Nothing much eased the pain: In Eastern Oregon at that time of year, the days were too cold and stormy to turn to tennis, even though I expected to make that spring season’s seven man team. (As it turned out for the next three years I played on the second doubles team, rarely climbing above number six or seven on the boy’s team even though most of the school’s athletes were busy that time of year with track and baseball.)

My most successful sport turned out to be football --- simply because it required 11 players on the field at once. As a freshman, I was assigned to play center behind Larry Horyna. Our sophomore year, he was promoted to the varsity early in the season. From then on, I was a starter for the JV team, and we ran over every team who’d play us but Vale.

Meanwhile, my high school years were premium ones for spectator sports in the Snake River Valley. Some of the athletes who entertained us would have been appreciated anywhere in the country.

In the beginning, the most exciting player in our area was R.C. Owens, who began to redefine the position we still simply called “end” in football. In 1952 Owens came to Caldwell, Idaho, from Santa Monica, California, to play for the College of Idaho football team --- becoming the first black to attend the school.

At the time, my father was beginning to take an interest in the college’s governance problems, and traveling with him to that small city 35 miles to watch Owens play became a special treat.

R.C. would line up well wide of the rest of the line on the right wing of the offensive line and rarely throw a block --- he apparently judged it sufficient that he took a defensive player out of the action just to cover him. By the time he reached his sophomore year, covering him proved extremely difficult at this level of college competition. He was taller and faster than the opposition players, although the College of Idaho’s quarterback sometimes struggled to get the ball to him. When Owens flew down the right sidelines, the pass had to be high and long enough to be catchable but short enough to be within his reach. If the throw was good, R.C. almost always caught it and often scored a touchdown.

Here’s how my father described Owens’ play in a November 12, 1953 column, written after the College of Idaho finished its season undefeated in league play.
“A year ago Owens was sort of a sensational joke. He was a talented pass receiver but he never played any football. He just stood at his end post except on a pass play and then, covered by good blocking, he ran out to make the catch. He never played any defense. He never even threw more than one or two blocks a game. Strictly a specialist.

“This year he has been taught to play football. Now he even pulls back to play linebacker on defense, makes bruising tackles, blocks most effectively, and has learned the ball carriers’ tricky shoulder block to bound off a tackler….

“On (one) play, two Whitman lads had Owens boxed downfield right after a pass reception. Then (he) did something probably never done before on a football field. He held out the pigskin like it was a basketball, teasing the Whitman men, faked once to the right, once to the left and then trotted right between the two for a touchdown.”

When I place a parenthesis around “he” in that last graph I was covering for a grim reality from those days. My father had actually described Owens as “the big colored boy.” Contrasted with the description of the “Whitman men,” it doesn’t sit well. It was not an example of conscious racism on his part, but it shows the way he, and almost everyone who was white, thought at the time.

Owens went on to play in the NFL from 1957 to 1964 and win two Super Bowl rings while with the San Francisco 49ers. Recently --- in the spring of 2007 --- he was still actively working with youth and raising money for charity while living in Manteca, California, just north of Modesto.

One of his major contributions to the College of Idaho was to help lure Elgin Baylor there from Washington D.C. for a single basketball season.

Baylor led the College of Idaho Coyotes basketball team to an undefeated season that school year, 1954-55, scoring a record 53 points in his last conference game of the season, played at Nyssa, just south of Ontario.

Owens played with Baylor on that team, and the two were a major force in a league that had seen nothing like the pair.

Baylor, for the season, was a man among boys. His favorite two plays indicate just how dominant he was. In his Argus Observes column published March 3, 1955, my father described how on a pair of free throws, Baylor’s teammates would try to aim their second shot so that it would bounce Baylor’s direction off the rim. If the bounce was right, he’d leap high to catch the ball and flick the ball through the net.

And when he had a chance to dunk, “he jumped high in the air, shot his wrists over the rim before reaching the peak of his jump and whipped the ball downward into the net with a sharp wrist snap. Then while he completed upward motion to the peak of his jump and appeared thus to hang suspended in air, he quickly brought his hands downward in a parenthetical arc to the bottom the net and caught the ball as it emerged from the net.

“He would return to the floor with the ball having been out of his hands for the barest perceptible instant of time and toss it gently to the referee.”
The next season he went to Seattle, sat out a year, then carried the Seattle University team to the NCAA championship game in 1958, where they lost to the Kentucky Wildcats. By the next year he was playing with the Minneapolis Lakers, and moved with them to Los Angeles in 1960.

It was during the early 1950s that our area produced its most famous locally grown athlete of recent years. That was Harmon Killebrew of home run hitting fame, who grew up in Payette.

My first memory of Harmon is the sight of his bulk carrying half our football team toward the goal line in the fall of 1953. He didn’t have much blocking and never made a touchdown in that game, which we won 40-0. But he went on to be named Idaho’s number one high school running back. A victory over Ontario was about all he was to be denied that year.

The summer of 1954 belonged to Killebrew even though the excitement only lasted about a month.

That June, Payette used a local semi-pro baseball team, the Border League Payette Packers, to show off Killebrew’s hitting talents. Teenagers and their parents from throughout the Valley found their way to the high school field in Payette for the Packers’ home games to marvel at his swing. During one stretch of three games, he batted twelve times and got twelve straight hits, four home runs, three triples and five singles. It quickly became clear he was going to be offered a professional baseball contract.

Before the end of June, Harmon signed to play for the Washington Senators, getting a $30,000 bonus up front and a salary of $10,000 year --- essentially guaranteeing him $50,000 over two years. It was a huge amount for a rookie at that time. He flew east to make his major league debut on June 29, 1954, under a new rule that required major league teams to keep their bonus babies on the major league roster for two seasons, even if they rarely got into a game.

On June 21, the Monday after the amazing youngster signed his contract and eight days before Harmon’s 18th birthday, my father’s column carried an account of the young man’s debt to his father --- stories passed along by Harmon’s brother Eugene Killebrew, editor of the Payette Valley Sentinel, which was published in nearby New Plymouth:

“Young Harmon had chores to do at home as a boy and sometimes when he was playing sandlot baseball his mother would send the father to fetch the son home for family duty. If Harmon was playing ball his father just couldn’t bear to interrupt. He would come home quietly and do the chores himself so his prospective ‘big leaguer’ could get in a few minutes more of precious practice.”

My father noted that his brother Eugene “has been Harman’s business manager during recent weeks when 12 of the nation’s 16 major league (teams) were trying to sign him….Harmon had about decided to go the University of Oregon, play football and then move into baseball. But when the bonus offer got so big, he couldn’t afford to turn it down. He will do his college work in off-season months until he does get his degree.”

My father later recalled talking with Eugene Killebrew during the contract negotiations they discussed whether signing before college was a good idea. One scout, apparently Oscar Bluege of the Senators, had said that the young man could be one of the great hitters in baseball. My father thought that “this is just a bunch of bullshit” and told Eugene “This guy is trying to lead you on.”

Even later, when Killebrew had proven his hitting prowess and won his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Dad maintained his signing so young had been a mistake.

But for all of the interest in Killebrew, no sports event raised the interest of folks around Ontario so much as the annual football game with Vale.

My class, Ontario High School’s Class of ’56, pursuit of a victory in that game came to an end on November 4, 1955. That year it was our turn to travel to Vale for the anticipated match-up. The evening was cold and we had no locker room --- just our school bus --- to use to get out of the weather. As I recall, we were at full strength with four strong running backs in the three Domans and Stan Olsen as well as a high-functioning quarterback in Reed Vestal. The critical center of the line was at full strength with Horyna snapping the ball and anchoring the defense and Evans and Osborn at guards.

We knew that Vale’s team included one of the strongest players in the state in Gene Bates, who worked well with his backfield partner Tater Smith. But we had a strong starting eleven with a half dozen solid back-up players. As my father would write in the aftermath, “before the game sports writers and opposing coaches generally considered Ontario the better of the two teams.”

The Argus-Observer’s story of the game does not, in my mind, quite do justice to the knock-down battle I watched that night from the bench. But most of the details are there in the Nov. 7 account. The game did not start well for us:

“The Vikings received the opening kickoff on the thirty-two and carried to the forty-six. There they failed to break through the Tiger defense and were forced to kick. On their first play the ball was fumbled by Ontario and Vale recovered on the Ontario thirty-seven. From here the Vikings started their drive goal ward. A twenty-two-yard pass from Bates to Derald Swift put the ball on the nineteen where Bates kicked for a field goal.”

Bates started the Vale drive that led to his teams second score by intercepting an Ontario pass at Vale’s at midfield early in the second quarter. Swift and Kay (Tater) Smith pounded out a series of short gainers to put the ball on our ten-yard line. Bates then powered it over the goal line but the play was called back on a penalty. It was a short reprieve. Smith punched in from the three a few plays later.

What followed was our most successful sequence. As the Argus-Observer story described it: “The Tigers put the ball into play on their own forty-nine. With a short pass from Reed Vestal to Norman Olson and a series of short runs by Stan Olson the ball was brought down the Vale 24 where Jerry Doman took a pitch out from Vestal and galloped around the left end to the one. From here J. Doman again took the ball and plunged through the line to pay dirt.”

But then our kick for the extra point failed, leaving the score 9-6 at half time.
For most of the third quarter the teams moved the ball up and down the field without getting close to a score. Then as the quarter drew to a close, Vestal connected on a long pass to Verl Doman who carried to the Viking 18 before he was brought down.

With that play as a jump start, our hopes to turn the game around rose to take the lead rose high in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. On a series of short runs our backfield punched the ball to the two. There a big hole opened up in the Vale line, but the ball tumbled to the turf and although we recovered the fumble, we had stalled out. On Vale’s first play from scrimmage at the two yard line, he was caught for a touchback. The score stood 9-8 Vale’s favor and another Bates interception later in the quarter sealed the game for the Vikings.

My father felt the loss as keenly as we in the senior class.

He penned an editorial for the paper that aptly described how he felt about some of my classmates. Titled, “These Were Our Boys,” it concluded:

“It was hard to hold back the tears driving home from Vale that night. That was partly because we knew from experience the nobility of these kids in defeat as well as their grandeur in victory.

“You see, they played knothole baseball for us five or six years ago. And they really learned how to take it. They were under-age, playing with a league of older kids in order to fill out the league schedules for summer play. If we ever won a game that summer, it has long since been forgotten.

“We couldn’t help but wonder if we hadn’t given some of these youngsters such adequate early training the philosophical acceptance of reverses on the playing field, if the result might not have been different at Vale on the critical evening this November. No bunch of kids ever wanted more to win a ball game. We know because we’ve listened to them work on it conversationally for the past nine years.
“For all that, w wouldn’t trade away that summer. What a sight it was to watch the Doman kids come in to town, covered with the dust of a day’s work in the field, and then take on an evening’s work on the playing field. And Larry Horyna, crouched behind the bat, whipped the gang in those days to higher performance, just as he has in recent years.

“Another sight we’ll never forget. Horyna eating watermelon --- seeds and all --- at the kids’ picnic in our backyard. That Larry could go through more watermelon in less time than any kid we’ve ever seen.”

In basketball, most of the same athletes with some help from the towering Julian Laca earned some payback. We trounced Vale three times on the hard court that season and went on to take second place in the state A-2 tournament, with Earl Doman and Jerry Doman named to the All-State first and second all-tournament teams, respectively.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Argus Observes: Jerry Camminn, a master at teaching high school football

From The Ontario Argus-Observer of August 16, 1954

Jerry Camminn has done it again --- taken a lighter and probably a less talented group of football players and defeated an apparently stronger opponent.

The popular Vale coach was head mentor for the Snake River Valley all-stars who defeated the Boise Valley all-stars 13-7 in a pre-season benefit game under lights here Saturday night.

Praise for Cammann does not reduce the credit due to (the SRV’s assistant coaches) --- Ontario’s Ken Glore or Vale’s “Dutch” Kawasoe (former assistant and now head coach at Vale). They are both thoroughly competent.

The game was widely billed as the valedictory of Cammann’s unique coaching career. He resigned last spring as head coach at Vale after the most successful coaching record I have ever seen in a small high school. I do not know his win-loss record. He has just been the best football coach in this region in many years.

The Boise Valley youngsters who invaded Ontario Saturday night for the first SRV-BV contest were noticeably larger than the Snake River Valley players. And I feel sure that, man for man, they are superior athletes as individuals. But they didn’t measure up to the SRV men as a team.

Although the SRV gridmen won the game by only one touchdown, 13-7, they were relatively stronger than the score indicated. They outplayed the invaders 14 to 4 on first downs and nearly two to one --- 208 to 123 --- on yards gained from scrimmage.

The breaks of the game fell Boise Valley’s way. The visitors’ lone touchdown was set up by an SRV fumble on its own nine yard line. It is doubtful if the Boise Valley lads could have scored by straight play for they were never able to sustain a drive.

Other breaks of the game which are a real factor in football obviously favored Boise Valley; but the SRV eleven had enough strength to overcome the disadvantage.

The SRV team’s superior performance definitely reflected Cammann’s coaching ideas.

He deliberately worked his men in the heat of the day to toughen them up for the contest, trying to get them as hard as possible within the brief, two-week training period.

Boise Valley by contrast practiced in the evening when cooler temperatures made the workouts more pleasant. But it didn’t harden the players like the heat did to the smaller SRV men.

Another advantage for the SRV team lay in the use of the single wing formation behind an unbalanced line, a favorite strategy with the Vale coach through the years.

The advantage is not that the single wing is superior to the T. That’s questionable. It lies, instead, in the element of surprise. Most high school players have had little if any experience against the single wing. Even though they may have been taught the theory of defense against it, they are at a loss for a time, until they get the feel of the play. And by then the game may be lost.

The SRV men made quick gains in the opening minutes marching 65 yards in eight plays for their first touchdown. This same opening pattern of attack has been characteristic of Vale teams. Some of the tricks of catching an opponent off balance at the start of the contest must be credited to Cammann’s different style of attack.

Through the years I have sometimes heard Cammann criticized as being “hard boiled,” such criticism more often originating in Ontario than in Vale. I have heard it said that he was too rough spoken and too rough in manner.

There is a certain metal in Cammann’s manner, but it performs an essential function. High school athletes are not little boys. Many of them are men in physical and emotional development although still boys in knowledge and experience so that they live in a sort of in-between state between boyhood and manhood. They need firm treatment and they have an almost pathetic eagerness to follow strong, well-informed leadership that teaches them what they want to learn under the rigors of rigid discipline.

Underneath Cammann’s authoritative manner lies an understanding heart. If you would talk to him personally about his boys as I have, you would learn that his devotion to them is almost like that of a fond parent, and this affection is understood by the boys. They reciprocate with their own devotion that sees through his firm manner.

Once in a while a great teacher comes along. He seems to have an almost mystic understanding of what goes on in the mind of the student, and with it a super ability to direct the pupil’s learning process. Almost every person has had one such teacher at some time. I had one for a single year in math. She could teach geometry to the slowest student with a magic that amazed the learner, and the kids almost worshipped her.

Cammann is a great football teacher. If his health permitted, he could coach at any university in the Northwest and better than hold his own against most of his competition. For reasons of health he chose to stay in Vale.

Now, because of health handicaps, he has resigned as the coach at Vale, retiring from his chosen work while he is still in his mid-thirties.

He won’t soon be forgotten by his athletes, or his opponents either for that matter. My personal sentiments --- feeling it was a real privilege to watch his teams perform --- must be shared by thousands of football fans throughout the valley.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The 1953 County Fair features: National Guard night attack, bee handling, and the winning race horse Geebung

The Aug. 31, 1953 edition of The Argus Observer described events to be featured at the Malheur County Fair that week as including a National Guard night attack in front of the grandstands, a demonstration how to handle bees without getting stung, and the return of the thoroughbred Geebung, a winner at the Ontario track the year before.

National Guard Lt. James Cable said the night attack staged by his 35 troopers would include pyrotechnics, rifle flares, parachute flares, smoke grenades, and pyro starch explosive buried in the ground.

W. W. Foster, a Nyssa bee handler, promised to demonstrate how to handle the insects so important to farmers without being stung. When he was not handling the honey bees, they were to be encased in glass so that spectators “can see the bees at work.”

Geebung was to race under the colors of Austin Meyer at the 1953 meet. A year earlier he won while racing for owner Don Frazer. Other owners were bringing in horses that had run and won at tracks in Portland and Gresham, Oregon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Argus Observes: Why a mother-in-law grows uneasy

Editor’s note: This column starts off innocently enough about a trip our family took to Yellowstone National Park when I was 16. But it ends with a revealing story about the relationship of my parents, a relationship that I’ve fairly accurately represented in my novel Farewell Bend.

From the August 19, 1954 issue of The Argus-Observer

Bright and early tomorrow morning we’ll be off to bear country --- the civilized bear country of Old Faithful Canyon and Fishing Bridge.

It’s been 12 years since we have visited Yellowstone park. At that time, we had one boy, aged 3, and he is 16 and his younger brother nearly 12. These are good ages for visiting the park.

Someone told us that the park waters are now so well stocked and the fishing take so strictly controlled that you can always catch a few fish. Probably just a fish story but we’ll try our luck and hope it is better than it was 13 years ago.

On that occasion I fished in the Yellowstone lake with my father-in-law, who for a man descended from Norwegian sea-going ancestors is the most leery-of-water guy I ever knew. The guide who took us out on the lake told him it was a mile deep and that almost paralyzed him. He held onto the boat with both hands and could hardly let go long enough to handle his fishing pole. We didn’t have much luck fishing but we had a lot of fun.

I wish his health permitted him to make the trip again this year. We’d have some more fun.

At Yellowstone 13 years ago a bear taught me that I was deficient in the natural instinct an animal is supposed to have to for protection of its mate.

Agnes (Mrs. Lynch) and I were carrying the scraps from the evening meal to a large garbage can back of our tent house. It was an armload and she went along to hold a flashlight for me.

We approached the garbage can which was a large one held up in a rack at about table height above the ground.

Agnes asked, “What’s that noise?” It sounded like a hog.

About that time a bear, who had his feet on the rack and his head and shoulders in the garbage can, rose up on his haunches and growled. Standing on that rack he towered above us like King Kong at the movies.

My instincts worked just fine but on an overly practical basis. I dropped the garbage and took off like a rabbit. In nothing flat I popped into the tent house and slammed the door in the face of my dear wife who was about three jumps behind me.

“Where’s Agnes?” exclaimed my mother-in-law. Imagine my utter chagrin, for I had quite forgotten about her.

If I tried a simply honest explanation and told you my spouse is a thoroughly competent person at taking care of herself, you would think I was a poor excuse for a husband indeed.

Take care of old number one first --- that’s what I always say. But I’m afraid my mother-in-law has been a little uneasy about her daughter’s protection since that revealing experience at Yellowstone.

Well, we’ll see what the park holds for us this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Local soldier tells of his experience landing at Inchon, Korea in 1951

The Argus-Observer issue of Aug. 17, 1953 carried a detailed account penned by Sgt. Jay R. Draper of his impressions upon landing at Inchon, Korea in the fall of 1951. Draper, who had attended Ontario High School, later served in Japan and studied journalism on the side. He wrote these impressions for one of those courses.

As soon as he arrived on shore, he noted, “a loud-voiced captain formed us into ranks and marched us single file to a waiting fleet of canvas-topped trucks, loading us twenty per truck while he counted heads or noses of bodies, whatever he used for a measure.”

Draper described the scene as the truck entered the city:

“Down muddy, rock-filled streets we went, passing box-like houses, surrounded by high board fences and poorly stocked stores displaying a few cans of dusty C-rations, a meager supply of dried fish and pitifully few fresh vegetables.

“Dirty, ragged people lined the road, stared at us in awe or hate or fear and begged for food in high-pitched, sing-song tones. Bombed buildings with gaping holes, armed guards with big guns, an armless beggar in the tattered remnants of a uniform --- all gave mute evidence of war and hunger and death.”

Draper marveled that only a few short months before he’d been walking down the streets of his home town whistling at the pretty girls while Korea was “only a name.”

Although he conceded his service in Korea“was necessary,” he wondered in print two years later, “what politicians had the God-given right to decide that we, out of the masses available, should come to this distant land and kill and bleed and die?”

Luckier that many of the Americans who served in Korea --- particularly National Guard troops -- Draper served 16 months in Korea before he became eligible to come home. He opted to be transferred to Japan and expected, in the fall of 1953, to be released from the service at the end of the calendar year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vale girl raising bobcat kittens

A 15-year-old Vale girl was raising two bobcat kittens, writer Paula Shunn reported in the Aug. 6, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer.

Shirley Rumsey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Rumsey, was described as “apparently one of those people whom even wild animals take to instinctively”

The bobcat twins had been found by a nephew of Shirley’s deep in wild horse territory near Council, Idaho. He brought them to his cabin without seeing the mother cat though he thought he heard her prowling around later that night.

After the kittens were taken to her in Vale, Shirley fed them cow’s milk. That didn’t work. Then she fixed up a formula that included raw eggs and they thrived.

At the time of the story the bobcats were frequently set free in the house to play with her large tom cat and her pet Pomeranian dog. But one of the kittens was beginning to scratch Shirley frequently and she conceded she was getting “a little afraid.” That said, the father was reported building a large outside cage for the cats.

The Argus Observes --- August fishing with Zimm near New Meadows, Idaho

From the August 20, 1953 issue of The Argus Observer

Zimm had told me where to fish. And it had worked out all right accorind to my standards, those of a dub who does not require many or very large fish to be happy.

“There’s some dandies right here in the meadow but you have to knowhow to catch them,” he said.

It was his busy season. For two months he had refused the temptation to fish with other summer guests. But he broke down one evening last August and took me fishing in the meadow.

First we worked the pools close to the cabins using a fly and caught half a dozen little squaw fish. They were to be our bait.

Then we drove a couple of miles down the meadow and walked in a little ways to a big deep pool where the water hardly moved.

We skinned the thick meat off the sides of the squaw fish and folded it over our hooks until they were concealed.

We wore tennis shoes instead of boots so we could wade waist deep. We worked opposite sides of the stream. Our lines were pretty well weighted and we threw them in above the deep water letting they work into the holes with the current.

The action started slow. I caught the first two --- nice ten-inch trout.

There was a point and a little brush in my way and the current was wrong. It kept me from getting into the deep hole.

Then after a half hour or so Zimm caught a better one. He motioned for me to come over to his side.

I waded across. My feet found a sand bar and I walked along it close the deep water.

The dusk settled in. I could just barely see my line against the dark water. I thought I had a bite and tried to set the hook. There wasn’t any jerk and I thought the weighted line had just hit a rock or log.

Then it started to move. Clear across the pool, deep. I set the hook a little harder and went to work.

It took all the skill I had. We battled for several minutes before I gained ground and reeled him a little closer slowly.

I didn’t have a landing net and knew I didn’t dare try to lift him. So I walked backward slowly along the bar, and then moved gently to the bank.

Well sir, sliding that boy out onto the grass was a real thrill. He measured just 15 inches but it was the biggest trout I had ever caught and an experience to remember for a long time.

If all goes well, as this is read we will be back in the same region trying to play a repeat performance of the same experience. This coming weekend has been set aside for our summer fishing trip. --- By Don Lynch

Friday, August 15, 2008

Broadhurst attorneys waive right to call witnesses

Editor's Note: Sorry for the long post but it's time to get the rest of this story out there and move on to other things.

In a surprise move, the defense waived its own right to call witnesses, resting its case and starting arguments to the jury Wednesday afternoon, nearly a week sooner than some observers expected.Defense attorneys first waived further cross examination of Alvin Lee Williams. A few minutes later the state rested its case following a short redirect examination of Williams.

Defense attorneys went into a huddle then waived further examination of any other witnesses.

They then appealed to Judge M.A. Biggs for a directed verdict of acquittal on the ground that the state had failed to prove a murder was committed.

Defense Attorney P.J. Gallagher told the court that no evidence of conspiracy had been offered apart from Williams, own testimony which the defense contended showed him to be incompetent, and that Mrs. Broadhurst may have been an accessory after the fact but was not on trial for that offense.

Gallagher added: “It appears from state evidence that there was not a murder by Williams. The most that was shown was an assault by Williams on the doctor, which was terminated when he decided not to go through with the killing. The reason he later killed the doctor was self defense. He inflicted the fatal gunshot wound after he began to fear great bodily harm when the doctor charged him with a jackknife.”

he motion was denied by Judge Biggs and the defense then rested, leaving only the arguments of counsel and instructions by the court before the jury took the case.

DA says Mrs. Broadhurst’s complicity in murder proven “beyond a shadow of a doubt”

Beginning the closing argument for the state, Malheur County District Attorney Charles Swan declared the state had proved Mrs. Broadhurst’s complicity in the murder “beyond the shadow of a doubt” and he asked the jury to impose the death penalty.

Williams was virtually the defendant’s “slave,” Swan charged, adding that she planned, inspired and directed the killing of her wealthy husband. It was her injunction “do not fail me and if you do for God’s sake don’t come back” that kept Williams from losing his nerve and abandoning the ghastly project, the prosecutor declared.

William Langroise delivered the argument for the defense Wednesday afternoon, asserting that there was no direct or indirect evidence of Mrs. Broadhurst’s guilt except Williams’ own testimony. And that, he said, was given with “an axe hanging over his head.”

“What wouldn’t he testify to get what the state through the prosecutors must have promised him?” Langroise asked the jury, renewing the defense charge of a “deal” involving Williams’ testimony, which Williams had denied when asked about it on the stand.

The attorney asked why Williams’ trial was postponed until after Mrs. Broadhurst’s if it was not to force him to testify before his own fate was decided. He could have testified after his own trial and his testimony would have carried some weight, Langroise concluded.

One of four verdicts was possible

The 16-day-old Broadhurst murder case went to the circuit court jury sitting in Vale late in the this afternoon after arguments of state and defense counsel and instructions from Judge M.A. Biggs who presided over the hard fought legal battle.

The jury was instructed that it could return any of four verdicts: 1. Guilty of first degree murder without recommendation, which means death in the lethal gas chamber; 2. Guilty with a recommendation of leniency which means life imprisonment; 3. Guilty of second degree murder also carrying a life sentence and 4. Acquittal.

Special Prosecutor Blaine Halleck completed the state’s closing argument at 3:10 p.m. Thursday. He carefully reviewed the evidence which he said consistently showed a conspiracy between Mrs. Broadhurst and Williams. He answered defense attacks on circumstantial evidence by saying that when a mass of this has been assembled, all pointing in one direction, it is more to be relied upon that direct testimony, which can be false.

Halleck’s only reference to the death penalty that the state is asking for the attractive, several-times-wed defendant came in his closing paragraph in which he quoted the Biblical injunction “whosoever sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed.”

Gladys Broadhurst’s defense attorney argues Williams acted alone

P. J. Gallagher delivered the closing for the defense this forenoon, speaking for more than two hours. He attacked the conspiracy evidence as virtually worthless except for Williams’ testimony, which he charged resulted from a deal between the state’s key witness and the prosecutors who have it in their power to save or exact his life.

Gallagher assailed Williams as “hard, cynical and smart” on the stand, as a “sniveling drug store cowboy and a perjurer who sought to save his life by helping send the woman he married to the gas chamber.” Mrs. Broadhurst listened intently but never flinched at the frequent references to the grim death house at Salem. She was using her handkerchief when Gallagher concluded, however.

Gallagher said Williams committed the crime on his own account so he could acquire Mrs. Broadhurst, that his motives were jealousy, frustration and revenge and at the moment of firing the fatal shot, fear.

A crowded, tense court room heard the arguments but there were no crowds outside seeking admission.

Mrs. Broadhurst sentenced to life in prison

VALE – Mrs. Gladys Broadhurst was sentenced this afternoon to life imprisonment in the Oregon state penitentiary by circuit Judge M. A. Biggs.

“This not a pleasant duty for the court to perform,” Judge Biggs said. “I order that you be confined in the Oregon state penitentiary for your life.”

To an offer by the court to hear her statement, Mrs. Broadhurst replied, “I have no statement to make” in a firm voice. The widow’s eyes were swollen with tears but the managed to smile at a small cluster of spectators as she left the court chambers. The session was brief, consuming only about five minutes’ time.

Mrs. Broadhurst wore a black suit and black off-the-face hat as she heard the sentence imposed.

She will be taken to the state penitentiary at Salem as soon as it is convenient to move her, according to a decision made in a hasty conference after the court adjourned.

The life sentence was made mandatory when the jury found Mrs. Broadhurst guilty of first degree murder but recommended leniency, a verdict that in Oregon automatically forces the court to impose a life sentence.

Jurors were divided over Broadhurst’s punishment

In its story on the sentencing of Gladys Broadhurst, the Ontario Argus said it learned that while all jurors favored a verdict of first degree murder when they began deliberations, they were sharply divided over the punishment.

Five favored the death penalty on the first ballot and seven favored life imprisonment. After further discussion a second ballot showed 11 for life and only one for death. On the third ballot the 12 were unanimous,” the newspaper reported.

Broadhurst trial seen as complicated for its era

The recent murder trial of Mrs. Gladys Broadhurst may have been the most complicated criminal case in the history of the Pacific Northwest, an Argus analysis suggested.Circuit judge M.A. Biggs interpreted the law on scores of issues where his decision might be questioned.

The sixty-four dollar question concerned the defendant’s marital status. Was she actually Broadhurst’s widow or the wife of Lincoln (sic) to whom she was still married when she hitched the doctor but whom she had illegally married only two days after a previous divorce or was she the wife of her alleged hatchet-man, Alvin Lee Williams whom she married in Reno a month before the doctor’s untimely end?

Whose wife she was had a definite bearing on the admissibility of important evidence and while the judge may have figured out the answer, it is doubtful if many listeners did.Other questions involved whether to admit evidence taken without a search warrant; whether an Oregon officer remained an officer after crossing the state line; (and) what was the guilt of a conspirator if a planned crime failed to develop according to plan?

Williams also sentenced to a life term; both released before serving no more than ten years

Four days after the April 1947 sentencing of his accomplice, Alvin Lee Williams plead guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to serve a life term in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Malheur County District Attorney Charles Swan moved to have the court reduce the charge from first degree to second degree murder in exchange for Williams’ guilty plea.

Williams testified for the prosecution at the Vale trial of Gladys Broadhurst who was convicted of first degree murder in the death of her Willis D. Broadhurst, a retired Caldwell, Idaho, chiropractor killed in the Jordon Valley area of Malheur County Oregon. Williams said he bludgeoned and shot the victim because he was under the thrall of Mrs. Broadhurst, whom testimony indicated coveted her husband’s $200,000 estate.

Judge M. A. Biggs asked Williams if he had a statement to make before the sentencing and Williams responded “no sir.”

Oregon officials have reported subsequently that Mrs. Broadhurst served nine years of her life sentence. Private observers added, in an internet posting, that Williams was seen walking free even before Broadhurst's release although the date of his release was not specified.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Williams describes the killing of Broadhurst

As Williams sat on the witness stand described the killing of Dr. Broadhurst, the widow of the slain rancher, remained outwardly calm.

Testifying in a low monotone and seldom lifting his eyes for a look at the packed and crowded courtroom, or at his alleged partner in lust and murder, the slightly built Parma cowpuncher told details of the scheming which culminated in his waylaying and killing the prominent Oregon rancher on a highway to Jordan Valley during the early hours of October 14.

Williams claimed that at the last minute he tried not to kill the doctor but that he heard the voice of Gladys Broadhurst saying “don’t fail me…don’t fail me” and was driven to the murder.

Even after he had struck Broadhurst a crushing blow on the head he said that he repented and gave the doctor a cloth to hold over the hole in his head.

He said he wanted to flee but that Broadhurst came at him with a pocket knife. Then Williams picked up a 12 gauge shotgun (that was lying at his feet in the courtroom as he gave testimony) and fired a load of buckshot into the Caldwell Chiropractor’s chest.

Williams insisted he was carrying out the instructions given him the night before by Gladys Broadhurst.

As Williams spent a solid day on the stand, his alleged partner in crime often stared fixedly at him, but he paid no attention to her. She gave a helpless gesture as he described the killing, and she sometimes talked in an animated fashion with her lawyers.

Williams also described the preparations for the crime. He told how he and his alleged cohort obtained the murder gun and a bedroll from the home of his parents in Parma. He said that he used the bedroll to cover the body as he moved it from the highway to a place of hiding.

Gladys Broadhurst's greeting: Come to bed but first destory the evidence

The witness told of reporting back to his confederate after hiding the body the night after the killing.

“When I first got back to the Caldwell ranch I knocked at Mrs. Broadhurst’s bedroom window. She unlocked the door. As soon as I got inside, I said, ‘Well, I done it.’ She said’ Good. Come to bed.’ ”

“I said, ‘I haven’t destroyed the evidence.’ ”

“She told me to go do it and come right back.”

Williams related that he threw Dr. Broadhurst’s knife down a hill where he later helped Oregon officers find it, that he tossed away a wrench that he’d used to bludgeon the doctor at a cross road west of Caldwell, and that he burned the bed roll in which he had wrapped the body. He then returned to Mrs. Broadhurst and went to bed.

Williams explains his confession

The young man from Parma said that he confessed in court to the killing of Dr. Broadhurst because his lawyers felt that it might be helpful to his own cause. He had been told he said, “It might help to get the facts out among the people.”

He denied that any deal had been made with the prosecution and said that the only suggestion of being helped that he heard came from his own attorneys.

He said he was surprised when Mrs. Broadhurst first mentioned a “disappearance” for the doctor. But after they talked about it all the time he got used to the idea, he said, although he had tried to get Mrs. Broadhurst to run away with him instead.

Broadhurst wrote the Sweet Pea alibi note

Saturday afternoon, Stanley McDonald, handwriting expert of the Portland police department, declared that Mrs. Broadhurst had written a “sweet pea” note authorities found in her handbag, a note that attempted to establish an alibi for her and for Williams.

The note said: “Your cowboy strong arm didn’t do it, but don’t start anything or I’ll get you the same as I did the doctor. I warned you I need some cash. Sweet Pea.”

Mrs. Broadhurst suggested the note was written by a vicious twin brother of her former husband, Leslie Merle Lincoln. The twin brother proved to be mythical.

MacDonald also testified that Mrs. Broadhurst signed the name “Elaine Hamilton” to a marriage certificate issued at Reno on Sept. 17 to a woman who give that name and to Alvin Lee Williams.

A signature “Mr. and Mrs. Al Williams” at a Sacramento hotel was identified as Williams’ writing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

They had already committed adultery so why not murder?

The young cowboy from Parma took the stand for the prosecution and described how plotting the murder began after he and Mrs. Broadhurst began living together on a trip to California. The first night of the trip they spent in the car, he said, where she asked to kiss him on the cheek because he looked like a brother of hers. She kissed him again, the second time on the mouth, and they slept together in the car.

They went on to Truckee and Lake Tahoe and spent several nights in which he went from his cabin to her tent to sleep with her because she was “afraid to sleep alone.” They lived together as man and wife staying at hotels in Sacramento and Bakersfield.

During this time as they began conspiring to kill Doctor Broadhurst. Mrs. Broadhurst told him they had already committed adultery and that it would be no worse to murder.

She described Broadhurst as “more animal than man.”

Mrs. Broadhurst and Williams were married in Reno on September 28 on the same trip and he claims she assured him that after Broadhurst had disappeared and had been declared dead they would marry again.

After their return to Caldwell, Broadhurst went on a hunting trip and they discussed Williams going later to shoot him in an apparent hunting accident and decided against such a course in favor of the one later followed.

Cowboy lover adds to his version of the plot

The prosecution brought out some new facts on the case from Mrs. Broadhurst’s accomplice during his second day of testimony.

Williams said he took a letter off Dr. Broadhurst’s body from the Senator Hotel in Sacramento which said that a “Mr. and Mrs. Al Williams” had registered there.

Williams also said Mrs. Broadhurst had complained to him the doctor was unkind to her and had occasionally locked her in a room at the ranch for indefinite periods. She also told him the doctor “didn’t want her around if she had to take a sleeping pill all the time.”

Williams stuck to his story as he went through a day of grueling cross-examination. Defense counsel tried to make him admit that he had a grudge against Dr. Broadhurst, but he refused to do it.Closely questioned about his relations with Dr. Broadhurst, he said he had been well treated and had no ill feeling toward the man he had killed.

“Why did you kill him?” defense attorney Gallagher asked.“That I don’t know,” Williams answered, speaking more clearly than usual.

He went on, “I thought that eventually she would have her freedom. She said that would be the only way she could get her freedom from the doctor.”

“Do you know how many times she has been divorced,” Gallagher snorted.Williams admitted that he was in love with Mrs. Broadhurst.

“You’d do almost anything to get her, wouldn’t you?” asked Gallagher.“Yes,” murmured Williams.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Victim’s friend describes relationship between the accused and her cowboy companion

(Taken from Ontario Argus stories from March 1947)

Relations between Mrs. Gladys Broadhurst – on trial here for the murder of her husband, Dr. Willis Broadhurst – and her alleged accomplice, Alvin Lee Williams, were described in detail by Mrs. Lola Adams of Caldwell, who lived at the Broadhurst ranch near Caldwell during the period.

Mrs. Adams said the two occupied the same bedroom, embraced affectionately and that on one occasion she found Mrs. Broadhurst seated on Williams’ lap. Asked on cross examination why she did not tell Dr. Broadhurst of these goings-on when he returned from (a hunting trip), she answered “because I didn’t want to destroy his happiness when he was trying so hard to make his marriage a success.”

Mrs. Adams said Williams was in the Broadhurst house the morning after the murder though both doors had been locked the night before and that he appeared pale, spilled his coffee at breakfast and couldn’t light a cigarette.

Mrs. Adams also told of finding, in a bureau drawer, a letter from Dr. Broadhurst to the defendant, written before their marriage sometime in the summer of 1945. The letter said in part, “In answer to your letter and your questions, I am not married and have no heirs and no descendants.”

Cowboy quoted as having a problem in bed

Mrs. Adams, who was living with the Broadhursts, testified that she complained one night in the presence of Williams and Mrs. Broadhurst about her feet getting cold during the night, at which statement Mrs. Broadhurst offered her an electric heating pad.Upon Mrs. Adams asking, “Are you sure you won’t need it?”

Williams replied, “No she won’t. She has so many covers on bed now that I can hardly turn over.”

The spectators in the courtroom shouted with laughter before order was restored by Judge Biggs.

Mrs. Adams added that the couple would leave the ranch each morning and stay away until dinner time each evening. She saw them upon several different occasions embracing one another, she said.

They told her that they had made two different trips to Jordan Valley and one day they went to Parma.

Returning home from a movie in Caldwell one night, Gladys asked me if I had seen the show ‘Leave her to Heaven,’ ” Mrs. Adams said. Upon her negative reply, Mrs. Broadhurst outlined the story briefly, and said, “Have you ever felt that for any reason you could take the life of another person?”

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prosecutor says Gladys Broadhurst planned the murder with her cowboy lover

The State of Oregon, speaking through Blaine Halleck, special prosecutor, today told a Malheur County circuit court jury that it proposes to show step by step how Gladys Lincoln married Dr. Willis D. Broadhurst of Caldwell, Idaho, for his money and then conspired with young Alvin Lee Williams, an employee on Broadhurst’s ranch, to kill him both before and after she went through what the state claims was an illegal marriage ceremony with Williams at Reno, Nevada, Sept. 17, 1947.

The jury, along with two alternates, was completed at 11:05 today after Judge M.A. Biggs ruled in favor of the state on the defense’s attempt to secure possession of documents turned over to the state following Mrs. Broadhurst’s arrest and which the defense said contained evidence that could be used against the defendant. Judge Biggs also ruled that the state may introduce (the documents) as evidence during the trial.

Attorney Halleck, in his opening statement, charged that Mrs. Broadhurst renewed a 20-year-old acquaintance with the Caldwell chiropractor who had become worth an estimated $200,000 and got him to marry her several months before a divorce decree from (her husband) Merle Lincoln was to become final, May 20, 1946 in Reno, Nevada.

At the Broadhurst ranch in Caldwell, Idaho a few weeks later she met Williams and took up with him, suggesting to Dr. Broadhurst that (Williams) accompany her to California where (she claimed) she feared violence from her late husband’s brother. She told Broadhurst that Lincoln had been killed in the war. . . .

Halleck said the state will show that Mrs. Broadhurst paid $200 for the car Williams needed to carry out the crime, and the whiskey she knew he needed to steel him for it. Halleck also said the defendant went with Williams to Parma to get the gun he used.

“Dr. Broadhurst was beaten and shot to death by Alvin Lee Williams, but the murder was conceived, plotted, planned, directed, encouraged and assisted by the defendant whom the state contends is equally guilty,” Halleck told the jury.

According to the Argus story, the Jury --- as finally completed after two and a half days questioning --- included Ernest Adams, Van Maltsberger, Ed Oakes, Gertrude Blanton and Sam F. Taylor, all of Ontario; J.C. Olson, Torvald Olson, Ida Walters and Mona A. Davis of Nyssa, William Morrison of Vale, and Earl Flock of Fruitland (the newspaper listed only eleven). Alternates were Jonesie D. Scott of Vale and Carroll Loecy of Ironside.

Mrs. Broadhurst entered the courtroom (for the final day of jury selection and the opening of the trial) walking erectly looking composed, although showing great concern. She was dressed simply in a black tailored suit with a white blouse, a black hat with a touch of gold sequin trim, and a black veil worn off the face. She displayed keen interest over the questioning of the jurors, leaning forward frequently to catch each word of the panel members as they were questioned.

Defense Attorney P. J. Gallagher of Ontario questioned each prospective juror closely as the newspaper and magazine accounts he (or she) had read (as well as) whether it would prejudice the juror that Mrs. Broadhurst had been married several times and that her divorce might not have been final when she married Broadhurst. The defense attorney also attempted, unsuccessfully, to exclude from evidence letters and documents taken from Mrs. Broadhurst when she was arrested and later delivered to the prosecution by friends of Broadhurst.

Caldwell chiropractor’s widow and her cowboy boyfriend arrested for murder

(Editor’s note: Beginning with this Dec. 19, 1946 story from the Ontario Argus, that newspaper (which was yet to be combined with the Observer) tracked the arrest and trial of suspects in the murder of W.D. Broadhurst, a Jordan Valley rancher and retired Caldwell, Idaho, chiropractor. The story would grow into one of the most spectacular accounts of passion and murder in the history of Eastern Oregon, drawing national attention to what in the 1950s retained some of the wide open character of the old West. An abbreviated version of the case --- placed in a different year and seen from the perspective of my father, the editor of the paper at the time --- appears in my novel Farewell Bend. The full story as it unwound in the pages of The Argus will soon be available here in several short bursts, or for readers who prefer a longer option, in a single long take.)

Mrs. Gladys Broadhurst, recently indicted on a charge of being an accessory in the slaying of her late husband, R. W.D. Broadhurst, Jordan Valley Rancher, was brought into Oregon to fact the charged Wednesday night after District Judge Thomas E. Buckner of Canyon County, Idaho, had denied a habeas corpus petition filed by her attorneys.

Previously Mrs. Broadhurst had been held in the county jail at Caldwell, since her arrest shortly following the finding of her husband’s body in mid-October and the alleged confession of Alvin Lee Williams, 32, a cowboy and Mrs. Broadhurst’s part-time chauffeur. Williams told police that he had slugged and shot the former chiropractor who had been on his way from Caldwell to his ranch near Jordan Valley.

Gov. Williams of Idaho last week honored the extradition request but had instructed the Canyon County sheriff not to turn Mrs. Broadhurst over to Oregon authorities until her attorneys --- P.J. Gallagher of Ontario and Cleve Groome of Caldwell --- had an opportunity to file the habeas corpus petition.

Williams, who was indicted on a first degree murder charge in connection with the death Oct. 14 of Dr. Broadhurst, pleaded not guilty in circuit court at Vale.

Broadhurst trial set to begin

The trial of Gladys Lincoln Broadhurst for first degree murder of her husband, R. W. D. Broadhurst, is set for Feb. 24, at the county courthouse in Vale, Oregon, The Argus-Observer reported on Jan. 9, 1947.

Dr. Broadhurst was beaten and shot to death on Oct. 14, 1946 while traveling from his home near Caldwell to his ranch in Jordan Valley.

Circuit Judge M. A. Biggs, who set the trial date for Mrs. Broadhurst postponed the trial of her alleged accomplice from Feb. 3 to March 10.

Deputy District Attorney Charles Swan, who was about to take office as county district attorney, asked for the Williams trial postponment, which suggests that prosecutors hope Williams might testify against Mrs. Broadhurst.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Argus Observes: Thank you Mrs. Antrim for your criticism

(Editor’s note: Here’s a short dissertation that, between the lines, suggests how much my father enjoyed being a country editor. In a month or so, I’ll expand on this theme with a series of blog posts I’m crafting describing my father’s tenure at The Argus-Observer in Ontario, Oregon.)

From the July 29, 1954 issue of The Argus-Observer

One or our readers gave me a real editorial lift this week.

In a letter to the editor published on the editorial page of this issue, she complains that we are too critical of the people’s elected representatives in Congress, that we are unfair to Senator McCarthy and continues:

“I am willing to let an editor spout off once in a while but when it becomes so frequent and so unfair as to indicate a policy that I consider very undesirable I deem it best to discontinue my subscription, so you can cancel my subscription as of now.”

This is the best compliment our editorial page has had in many months. Who would dream that way out here in Malheur County, far away from Washington’s halls of democracy, the expression of opinion on the editorial page of a country newspaper would arouse such definite reaction?

This proves a point. The extremely practical country newspapermen, the ones too busy to write editorials about anything as abstract as national affairs, are wrong. People do read the editorials and the letter we got this week proves it. Hooray for Mrs. Antrim! . . . .

We do get lots of criticism in the newspaper business because the chances for it run to several thousand for every issue and our work is in front of everybody, wide open for criticism. A person who is bothered by criticism has no business being a newspaperman.

Frequently --- more frequently than you would imagine --- criticism actually boosts the morale of the newspaper. We know from experience that people don’t stay mad. Some of my best friends are people who at one time or another have cancelled their subscriptions because of anger at the paper. They got over it.

What is just fatal for a newspaper is to be ignored, to not make much difference one way or another.

An editor never gets much personal reaction from people except little pleasantries. He often feels he is working in a vacuum because of lack of personal contact with his readers.

Although I don’t know Mrs. Antrim, she now ranks high on my list of favorite people. Even though we may disagree about Senator McCarthy and about congressional responsibility to the president, she has given my ego a boost.