Monday, March 31, 2008

The Argus Observes --- Federal Reserve analysis suggests Malheur County in good economic shape

By Don Lynch
From the April 6, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has just made its annual report on business in the seven western states during 1952. It’s main comment:

“The most notable feature of our economy in 1952 was its ability tooperate at record postwar levels of private and government spending without inflation.”

This is a well-phrased statement that undoubtedly applies to the Ontario and Malheur county economy just as genuinely as it does to the entire 12th district (western states) region.

The reason…is that inflation has already happened.

Now…the cost of living is dropping slightly, but so slightly as to hold promise of a stable economy. Thus it is good news in contrast to a sharp drop in living costs which would be bad news because it would be a harbinger of depression.

In one respect Malheur County and the whole interior Northwest differs sharply from the western state region as a whole.

The Federal Reserve Bank reports that the defense program was felt more strongly in the 12th District than in other parts of the country,” with high volume in construction, aircraft, ship building and machinery output.

No so in our region. Ours is an agricultural economy and we have felt little of the Korean War boom.

Instead we have felt the things that affect agriculture: the drop in the beef market, our most important source of income; and the improvement in some other markets such as potatoes, sugar beets and frozen foods.

These are the things that affect Malheur County’s economy. And they aren’t all bad by any means. . . .

The price of beef it at its lowest figure in many years, perhaps the lowest since the depth of the depression in terms of the real value of the dollar used today.

Now large supplies and lower prices have caused beef to be placed on the USDA “Plentiful foods” list for the first time in the 15-year history of this program.

A growing recognition of beef as an outstanding food because of its economy and the nourishment may create a more dependable market for cattle than the fast market caused by high prices.

In the meantime the promise of a better price for sugar beets and the rapidly growing market in frozen foods will boost both industrial activity and farm prices in Malheur County.

So we have another example of the stability provided by a farm economy, evidence again that this is a good place to live and work.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

DA Swan says public gets law enforcement it wants

The March 26 edition of The Argus-Observer reported that Malheur County District Attorney issued a statement warning the public that it gets the law enforcement that it wants.

If people want laws strictly enforced, they will be strictly enforced, he said.
But if people don’t care, it is unlikely the laws will be enforced, he added.

“Good or poor law enforcement is in direct proportion to the interest people take in it,” Swan said.

The district attorney called for coordination between the various law enforcement agencies in the county.

But he added that enforcement actions depend as much upon city councils as upon the policing agencies.

The story noted that the district attorney has been “frustrated” by the slow movement of court proceedings against three houses of prostitution --- two in Ontario and one in Nyssa --- that were closed down in the fall.

In all three cases, the defendants who were in charge of the operation had been fighting abatement proceedings asked for a change of venue to another county, the newspaper noted.

The cases would then be tried in Harney or Baker counties.

The State Supreme Court had heard arguments in the change of venue cases but had not yet issued a ruling at the time of Swan’s announcement.
Swan said he anticipated “no new law enforcement action” until the issue of the bawdy house cases was resolved.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Prosecutors lay out the infamous 1947 murder case against Gladys Broadhurst

Beginning today, March 25, 2008, daily postings at our “T.C. Lessons” blog, will excerpt the lengthy March 13, 1947 story that lays out key testimony and final arguments in the Vale murder trial of Gladys Broadhurst, accused of plotting to kill her rancher husband with the help of confessed accomplice Alvin Lee Williams of Parma, Idaho.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Argus Observes: Americanization classes draw 16 different nationalities

By Don Lynch
From The Argus-Observer, March 19, 1953

We’ve had an outstanding example of America at its best right here in Ontario in recent weeks.

The Americanization classes conducted in evenings at the high school aided a historic national function almost forgotten in this generation.

Time was when we regarded this nation as the melting pot of many peoples and we learned in sociology classes that from this cross section of nationalities bringing new blood to these shores came much of America’s rugged strength.

Most of us would have thought of that assimilation as a process of an earlier generation. Who would have thought that here in Ontario 16 different nationalities all sought training to become American citizens?

And yet that is just what happened.

It is not so surprising that there should be a large class of Japanese because many of them have located here and their right to citizenship was established for the first time in December by the McCarran Act. But it is surprising that almost half of this large class would be made up of persons of 15 other different nationalities.

There are two especially interesting angles to the story. One is the almost touching eagerness of these people to learn about America. And how they must have learned. In many instances they doubtless grasped the significant meaning of political liberty and economic freedom in more realistic terms than are understood by many of us who have taken these things for granted as part of our birthright.

They have learned firsthand, for the first time some of the simple fundamentals that are the very heart of America. Because they are so much more ready to learn than we were when we learned the same lessons as school children, they may well understand them more clearly and with greater insight than most of the rest of us do.

The other interesting angle relates to the service their instructors have given to make these classes possible. These teachers gave freely of their time, spending energy without pay, in a cause truly above and beyond the call of duty.

They were doing a work close to their hearts. Teachers are dedicated to education in most instances or they wouldn’t be teachers. Here they answered a high call not often afforded and performed a unique and valuable service to their community and their nation.

They deserve the thanks, not only of the students in the classes but of all the community, for their work on behalf of eager would-be citizens has served us all.

With classes now completed for this season, students are already looking forward hopefully to the chance that similar classes may be conducted another year.

These classes have been a big, significant story, the sort of thing that is material for an interesting magazine article.

If someone in Ontario were a Fulton Oursler or a John Gunther or even a Richard Neuberger, the classes would be the subject of a feature story in a national magazine.

Without such an author the opportunity will be missed. If I can just help the effort to be appreciated in Ontario, I shall be pleased.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Liquor by the drink about to debut in Oregon

The Argus-Observer reported on March 23, 1953 that liquor was expected to be available by the drink by May 4.

The change was contingent on the governor signing legislation making the change, but that action was apparently expected.

The newspaper predicted 800 bars across the state would be serving liquor under the new law. At the time, there were 530 “bottle clubs” where patrons could drink under more stringent rules, including three in Ontario.

Bars serving liquor would be required to buy their supplies at the state operated liquor stores.

Women bartenders would be permitted on a “case by case basis” the State Liquor Control Commission indicated, “if it is believed they could handle the situation.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Argus Observes – What happens when the printing press breaks?

By Don Lynch
From The Argus-Observer, March 16, 1953

A printing press smash-up makes a depressing, almost sickening noise to a person in the trade. It spells about the worst kind of trouble that can happen to a publication.

We all knew instantly that we were “down” when the noise hit us about 2 p.m. Thursday and the pressman screamed, “Oh, No! No!”…

It was 9 p.m. before we could fully assess the extent of the damage and actually knew that we could not repair sufficiently to operate. We have had to go to other towns to print on former occasions but we knew it further in advance and so were prepared to tighten up our schedule.

The whole experience was reminiscent of my early days at the Argus when it was competing with the Observer.

There we fought machine deficiencies and repair problems week after week. We were almost always late in getting the papers into the mail. Every paper seemed a major effort and just getting out each issue was an individual victory, like winning a ball game.

I think our most unnerving breakdown occurred on a day in May 1947 when we were installing a small four page press to replace the two page press that had so handicapped our production at the Argus.

We were operating at a loss in severe competition. The cost of installing a better press looked astronomical to me. But it obviously had to be done.

After long hours of effort it appeared that we might be out by the end of the day.

Then in mid-Thursday with three runs yet to go, the gear track that carried the printing assembly across the bed snapped clean into two pieces.

The printing machinist from Salt Lake City, here to erect the pres, was ready to give up. But Bert Martin, our shop foreman, thought that we should give Charles Croghan a chance at the welding job. Everything to gain, not much to lose.

Croghan, just starting into business for himself and without adequate shop facilities, set the gear track on two boxes in his back yard and did a welding job that amazed the machinist from Salt Lake City. He got it accurate enough to run smoothly during the 15 succeeding months that we used it. And that sort of machinery is measured in thousandths of an inch rather than 16ths.

We wrapped up that issue at 2 a.m. Friday morning.

Since that time I haven’t worried much. One expects trouble in this business now and then as you would have in any industry. You just try to avoid it.

As this is written the (current) newspaper press appears to be repaired and ready to roll. I hope it runs without trouble from now on, but I won’t base our plans on such hopes.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Neighbors do spring farming for injured friend

The March 16, 1953 edition of The Argus-Observer reported that more than 26 men, neighbors of Joe Hobson, using 18 tractors completed the spring work on Hobson’s 80-acre farm all in one day.

Hobson had been injured in a late February auto accident near Nyssa and was ordered by his doctor not to do any heavy work.

The neighbors corrugated the alfalfa fields and pasture, spread manure, worked the fields that needed it with a disc, harrowed, planted grain and prepared corn fields for planting.

Women from the nearby farms prepared a noon meal that fed 50 to 60 men, women and children.

Mrs. Hobson said it was “about the nicest thing” that had happened to her and asked the newspaper to extend her thanks to the people she had not been able to thank personally.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Argus Observes: At marbles, this ten-year-old was a master

By Don Lynch
From The Argus-Observer for March 12, 1953

If you were a straight laced, anti-gambling newspaper editor how would you deal with a son who demonstrates apparent skill at playing marbles for “keeps”?

Our ten-year-old heir to editorial ethics and responsibilities displays considerably more manual dexterity and physical coordination in those pudgy little hands than I ever possessed.

I can’t remember when he bought any marbles, although his mother says she thinks he bought a little sack of a dozen or so last year or the year before. Now he has a full quart of “migs” cached away in an old, soft, woman’s handbag.

The burden of this wealth rests lightly. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “Oh, I’ll give ‘em away to some kid when I get old.”

He carries other responsibilities with a debonair air, too. Just recently his mother tried to express to him the personal relationship involved in newspaper ownership. She said, “Along with the other people who work there, we are the Argus-Observer.”

His reply: “Chug, chug, chug. I’ll be the press.”

My father sternly forbade me to play marbles for “keeps” when I was a kid. Perhaps this was because he was the grade school principal and it was traditionally forbidden to play “keeps” on the school ground.

However, times changed and in his final years of teaching he softened toward the growing trend of playing marbles for “keeps.”

It was easy to persuade me not to play “keeps,” because I couldn’t win anyhow. I just couldn’t hit ‘em.

Our marble player has either inherited skills from his mother’s side or else his aptitudes are the product of genes that skipped over my generation. At any rate he brings home another pocket full of marbles almost every afternoon in this annual season of the”dates-up.”

So far I haven’t reprimanded the marble player. He seems to be following the accepted rules of his society. His manner has the innocent air of a perfectly clear conscience. I don’t think I’ll disturb that innocence.

(Editor’s note: In a recent discussion of how this was accomplished, now law-school dean Dennis Lynch explained that his success was helped by raising his shooting hand enough above the dirt to be able to fire his marble above ground and not be knocked off target by a rough spot. Of course, this explanation does not entirely account for the accuracy of the shot, even if it was airborne.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ore-Ida frozen fried potatoes keep 170 employees busy at Ontario plant

The March 5, 1953 edition of The Argus Observer reported that Oregon Frozen Foods in Ontario was keeping 170 employees busy cutting potatoes into “Ore-Ida” French fries and freezing them to be sent to retail markets across the country.

Nephi Grigg, general manager of the plant, told the newspaper that his plant had the capacity to process 100 carloads of potatoes a month, about 25 percent of the local crop.

The story also indicated that “no. 2” potatoes could be used for the process, providing a market for potatoes that might otherwise be discarded.

The Ontario plant was producing a product that was “something new for the industry,” the story noted. “The housewife needs only to reheat (the fries) and they are table ready.”

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Argus Observes -- Ontario high basketball team goes to state tourney

By Don Lynch
From The Argus-Observer, March 9, 1953

The 1953 Tiger cagers have won the highest honor ever achieved by an Ontario high school basketball team, a berth in the state basketball tournament at Eugene.

They outpointed Baker in two straight wins Friday and Saturday nights for victory in the two-out-of-three series that made them district one champions.

Although Ontario has often been sub-district champions and has battled in many series for the district title, this was the first time it has won the series, a victory which brings with it the dual honor of the district championship and the right to play in the state tourney.

In two nights of play, the Tigers won a kind of immortality that can come only to high school athletes. The men on this team will be remembered in the conversations of basketball fans in this community for at least a generation. And they will be enshrined in the hearts of their aspiring juniors down to the tiniest midget in midget league play. They are today’s heroes in Ontario.

The achievement of this team is remarkable because its qualities of greatness are illusive. It has no outstanding stars. It had no players with an impressive scoring record for the season. It is not a smooth-playing aggregation. It had tough sledding to win the Snake River Valley crown.

When a team without individual stars turns in a stellar performance one suspects the coach had more than a little to do with it.

It is team play that has made the Ontario Tigers outstanding. They have a remarkable talent for performance in the clutches, for inspired play in a critical quarter or a critical game, for coming from behind to win, for the “will to win” in every way --- the most valuable asset a team can have.

In the third period at Baker Saturday night, they made 19 points while holding their opponents to six points. I’d like to know what Coach (Ken) Moore tells them during the halftime intermission.

Whatever it is, he must have a little of what made Knute Rockne famous. He knows how to inspire players.

This team has shown an unusual sensitivity to its opposition. It has rarely won by along margin. It has often come from behind to win. The pace of its play seems largely one of response to its opponent.

So don’t count the Tigers out in tourney play. They rise to the occasion. No one knows how good they really are because so far they have lifted their performance to counter that of any opponent.

Although they lack outstanding stars, virtually every man on the team can look like a star on occasion. If they all got hot at once they’d be pretty hard for any high school team to beat.

It’ time now to start arranging your trip to Eugene to see Ontario in the state tournament March 17 to 20.

Editor’s note: The team lost its first game 63-61 to The Dalles. The outcome of a consolation game that was game to be played against either Albany or Medford is unavailable to us. Fifteen players were listed as members of that team in the 1953 high school annual: Charles Garcia, team captain, Vance Savage, Bill Stoner, Jim Beem, Terry Fujginaga, Ken Ackerman, Charles Binder, Burke Nicholson, Darwin Hall, Wayne Anderson, Dave Burton, Jim Groghan, Ralph Barker, Dick Speelman and Jim Williams.