Sunday, November 29, 2009

Farm labor shortage predicted for summer of ‘53

Prompt action must be taken by Malheur county farmers if they are to have an adequate labor supply for 1953, Roy Hirai, president of the county Labor Sponsors association said today.

Hirai reported the association drive for membership dues has made little progress, and that camp facilities cannot be operated without a minimum of 6,000 acres of row crop signed up and membership paid.

The sponsors association estimates 3,000 laborers will be needed in the area this season and that 350 of them must be housed and dispatched from the labor camps at Ontario, Adrian and Vale. Hirai pointed out that there is not adequate farm housing to maintain a labor force and that even operators with farm housing will suffer if the labor force is not large enough to stabilize wage rates and reduce competition among uses of labor.

Last year’s operations saw 245 workers during peak seasons living at the camps from April 20 to October. A large percentage of row crop operators used labor from the camp, and last year’s association membership totaled 139 operators and 6,950 aces of row crop. Labor supply and relationships with labor were the most favorable in many years in this area.

--- From a February 1953 issue of the Ontario Argus-Observer

Sunday, November 22, 2009

God in Education Urged by Speaker

The teaching of Christianity in the public schools as the most effective way to combat communism was urged by P. J. Gallagher in a talk to the Ontario Kiwanis club Wednesday.

The speaker paid tribute to the American tradition of freedom to worship as the individual chooses. He favored the teaching of the general tenets of Christianity which would be in keeping with the beliefs of all faiths.

“We are fundamentally a Christian nation. We believe in the principles of Christianity,” Gallagher said. “There is no reason why the teaching of fundamentals of religion should be barred from our schools, no reason why they should not be taught throughout the public schools and colleges.”

---From a November 1953 issue of The Ontario Argus-Observer

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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.

---Excerpted from Farewell Bend the novel and based on an actual story from the Ontario Argus-Observer published during an early 1950s hunting season. Most names have been changed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Planting catfish and pike in local streams proposed

Local sportsmen have induced a top official in the game commission to come to Ontario to discuss the possibility of developing warm water species of fish in the area, Don Moore said today.

More said there would be a public meeting with John Rayner , chief of operations, division of fisheries, Oregon state game commission.

On species that is under consideration is the catfish like those found in North and South Dakota, Moore said. These fish sometimes grow to weight one hundred pounds and are a good food fish.

Another species under consideration is the wall-eyed pike which is a native of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Moore said the group was not trying to tell the game commission what to do but simply wanted to find out what could be done.

--- From the Ontario Argus-Observer of Feb. 9, 1953

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How dumb could a teenager be?

PAYETTE – Two teenage boys stealing gasoline set a fire which destroyed a four-car garage, two automobiles and other contents to bring an estimated loss of some $15,000 to the Fred Robertson residence on Central Avenue Friday night, according to Chief of Police Cecil Fetter.

The boys both in junior high school admitted the offense and gave details of how it happened when they were arrested at their homes later in the evening, Fetter reported.

The cars were owned by Ike Whitely and Earle Sample, both of Payette. Other contents of the garage included factory machinery which was owned by Robertson valued at $10,000.

According to the boys’ story, the chief said, they had driven to the garage in their Model A hot rod and were stealing gasoline from the Whitely car. One of the boys had opened a cap at the bottom of the tank with a special wrench they had for the purpose. He was using a Purex bottle to catch the gasoline. When the bottle was nearly full the boy under the car dropped the cap and lit his cigarette lighter to look for it. The flame ignited gasoline spilled on the ground and the whole area immediately burst into flames. The boys then tried to start their hot rod for a getaway but when it wouldn’t start ran away from the scene.

The boy who had been stealing the gasoline received a badly burned forearm, the chief said.

Both were in bed at their homes when the when the officers called. They admitted the offense after only a few questions and told the details.

Both are being held for action by the Probate Court, which handles juvenile offenses in Idaho, Fetter said.
…… From the January 5, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer

Monday, November 2, 2009

The way first graders learned in 1953

(Editor’s note: My father, author of the following newspaper column from 1953, was the son of a school teacher who Dad late in life described as an abusive father. Dad once wrote about how his dad who during the 1920s taught in a one-room country school near Mountain Home, Idaho, whipped Dad and two other junior high age students who he caught fighting with lilac bushes. And another time he took a belt to his ninth grade boys who failed to return to class from the basketball court. In 1953, Dad wrote that a certain amount of such corporal punishment might be necessary in schools. But he never described exactly how much. I know he whipped me for fighting with my younger brother when I was nine or ten. But I’m not sure he’d have been happy if a teacher had taken his belt to me – which I never saw happen to any of my classmates. Anyway, it’s clear in this column that he liked the way this first grade teacher in our small town approached her job. Standardized tests were apparently the last thing on her mind.)

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch
From the Nov. 5, 1953 issue of the Ontario Argus-Observer

The capable Ontario teacher Mrs. Sylvia Osborn brought her charts and illustrative material and various teaching helps to the weekly Kiwanis luncheon and presented the program to the club men for their annual observance of American Education Week.

There is no rigid schedule to first grade work, she said. Instead the information taught is worked into the child’s everyday living.

Each morning Mrs. Osborn’s class starts with the day’s news. At this time each day, the learning of reading is related to the habit of reading about the news.

First graders, she says, are very observant about the weather. So they keep a record every day and at the end of the year they know how many sunny days, rainy days, windy days, etc. there have been during the school term.

A major reaching effort is directed at making the first graders number conscious. Over and over again they are taught that the same combinations will produce the same results whether they are dealing with blocks, or apples, or people or animals or any other units. The little ones have a hard time making the transfer of mathematical reasoning from one subject to another and this is a slow learning process.

Six year olds have a different adjustment problem in getting used to the closeness of school work. The rate that reading is learned is much affected by the youngster’s natural ability to focus his eyes.

The children make up the first stories they read, writing them in simple terms to learn simple words, and then re-reading what they have written. They also illustrate their stories, drawing the characters and situations in a group effort.

One evidence of the relation of education to everyday living is that children in this year’s first grade classes insist on equipping their houses with TV antennas.

(Editor’s note: In the fall of 1953, TV had just come to Eastern Oregon. Good antennas in Ontario were picking up the signal from a Boise, Idaho station, the first to begin broadcasting in the area.)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rubbing shoulders with Charles Dana and W. R. Hearst’s crew

Editor’s note: My father Don Lynch, author of these postings from The Argus Observes, died at age 84 early in January 2000. Though he was observant and analytical almost to the end and knew that the computer age was changing journalism, he couldn’t foresee what has happened to its practitioners since then. By that year, newspaper websites were beginning to make deep inroads into news distribution. Someday someone will write the history of the development of powerful blogs, but I didn’t understand where the Drudge Report could lead us and I don’t think many others did. My father was no exception. But for much of his mature life he saw himself as a bridge between the titans of newspapering, the William Allen Whites and William Randolph Hearsts and the powerful voices of newspaper editors, columnists and writers in the late 20th Century. In this column from October of 1953 he honors another journalist who shared some of his memories of the last half of the 19th Century and first half of the 20th.

The Argus Observes

By Don Lynch
From the Oct. 8, 1953 issues of The Ontario Argus-Observer

Shades of Wild Bill Hickcock and Calamity Jane.

Who’d ever expect to run into a newsman who had rubbed shoulders, at least figuratively, with them and with William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, the great Charles Dana and many other notables of an early day that are legendary movie-type characters to us today.

Well, we have such a newsman right here in Ontario. He is 91-year-old M. E. Bain, tramp printer, editor and publisher for 35 years before he came here in 1909 … and who has been a favorite elder citizen in Ontario for almost a generation since his retirement 37 years ago.

He told of his experiences in a talk to the Kiwanis club Wednesday. It was an enchanting talk, at least to me, for I can well imagine what a lot of his experiences must have been like. . . .

He was a great admirer of Charles Dana, whom he regards as the greatest editor of them all. When Bain worked for Dana’s New York Sun in the 1880’s, Dana published a four page paper on week days and an eight page issue on Sundays.

The great editor was so fussy that he always wrote special late leads on all stories were he could get late-breaking information. As a result, many times half of the material set was thrown away and would not be run at all.

Dana boasted a circulation of a “million a week,” and had it all right. He
had to throw out ads to keep his paper down to the size he wanted. And he boiled the news down tight and used little space for display of headlines.

But his product commanded great attention and he got a high rate for his ads to cover the high cost of his eccentric operation.

Dana was friendly with his crew and ate at the lunch counter with the printers who were devoted to him. Bain sometimes visited with Dana at lunch.

Joseph Pulitzer was regarded by Bain as the dynamo of his day in business management of a newspaper.

Later Bain worked for the Hearsts when William Randolph was just reorganizing his newly acquired San Francisco Examiner and getting set to build the biggest newspaper empire ever assembled.

Bain has told me how he and his fellow workers used to sit around and have a glass of beer and talk with some of the great writers of those early days.

“We had a wonderful time,” he recalls with the excitement of youth in his 91-year-old vocal chords. “We knew all about what was going on in the world and sat around and talked about it by the hour. It sure was fun.”

As William Allen White used to say, “There were giants in those days,” at least they are giants in retrospect.

That feeling of comradeship with writers and identification with the events of the day that Bain recalls so vividly is one of the things that puts ink in a man’s veins; and most of us who make our living knocking copy through a typewriter and watching it come out on the printed page, no matter how humble our situation, wouldn’t change jobs with a lot of more important people.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In the 50s: Trouble with that “Other Days” column

Editor’s Note: In October of 1953 my father wrote a column commemorating that year’s newspaper week by enunciating some of the ideals of a Journalistic Creed he’d come across. One stated ideal was that “no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman.” What with blogs and the Internet we’re way beyond honoring that principle today. But it was that basic idea that triggered his recounting of a pair of violations in which his reporters had indulged. The stories that slipped by on his watch in the 1950s might get killed today by the editors or publishers of the better community weeklies, if there are any of those left. Today, one hopes that respect means something in “small town” America,though the rancor in the letters column of today's Argus can raise questions whether that is true now in Ontario.

The Argus Observes

By Don Lynch

An excerpt from the October 5, 1953 issue of The Argus-Observer

I remember little violations of these (Journalistic Creed) principles that have been painfully embarrassing to me, although they have probably gone unnoticed by most readers. For instance:

Once when we had a new reporter writing the “In Other Days” column of notes from the files of former years, he picked up and retold some embarrassing crime stories long forgotten about local citizens who had since led exemplary lives.

On another occasion an eager reporter was publishing the lurid details of divorce complaints, which should be reported only in barest facts.

These were cruel, pointless stories. The person who has made a mistake and reformed should be granted the balm of public forgetfulness. Divorce items should only report the brief facts, so that the community knows the changing status of the individuals. No good is performed by broadcasting the miserable circumstances.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making the big trucks pay their fair share

Editor’s note: Debate over how much big trucks should pay for their heavy use of the highways has been going on for at least fifty years, as looking back to the 1952 Truck Tax initiative on the Oregon ballot reminds us. My father was a big proponent of increasing the tax on the long haul behemoths as the state Legislature had done, under the guidance of his friend State Sen. Elmo Smith, a Republican then from John Day, Oregon, and former mayor of Ontario. (Elmo was also the former publisher of the Eastern Oregon Observer, which was combined into the Argus five years earlier.) Anyway, here is the argument as Dad presented it in his front page column before the election. And this time I can tell you how it came out, because he wrote about it in a post-election column I happen to have at hand.

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch
From an October 1952 issue of the Ontario Argus-Observer

This (truck tax) initiative measure is most important in its effect on the economy and welfare of the state.

The 1951 Legislature believing that the trucks weren’t paying their full share of the cost of building and maintaining highways, boosted the weight-mile tax with the heaviest increase falling on long-haul truckers.

The Legislature and the State Highway Commission figured that trucks now pay about 29 percent of highway costs, but they should pay about 33 percent. This bill is intended to make trucks pay their fair share of road costs.

The long haul truckers, who claim they already pay more than their share of the road costs, got the bill referred to the people.

This bill is the product of a tremendous detailed study by the Legislature, and tremendously hard work in getting I passed over the opposition of the powerful truck lobby. It represents a great forward stride in Oregon highway financing, and to my mind it is perfectly fair and equitable.

It is the key bill in a whole system of highway taxation carefully designated by the state’s best experts.

This valuable work of the Legislature is supported by the Highway Commission, the state grange, all of the state’s newspapers, the Portland City club, and virtually all of the organizations qualified to judge its merits.

The big trucks simply are trying to dodge a tax that really nails them down to paying according to their heavy use of roads. Many smaller truckers such as Clarence Vogt in Ontario, favor the legislative program because under it they pay only according to their less extensive use of the roads. It is a fair tax.

It is most important that you support the Legislature by voting 318X Yes in favor of this measure.

(Editor’s note 2 – The truck tax measure passed, keeping the tax intact, and Dad wrote that it was an important victory justifying Smith’s tireless efforts on the Legislature as well as the newspaper support that the measure drew. Here is an excerpt from that November 1952 column, which talks about this pride in the efforts of the state’s nespapers.)

The result seem almost like a personal victory for many editors who sometimes wonder if their editorial voice is heard at all in the hubbub of movies, radio, comics and against all the competition of the livelier columns of general news in their own papers. This time editors could be certain much of what they said hit the target.

The Oregon State Motor Association believes that newspapers were instrumental in saving the state’s truck tax program and along with it the highway program.

I received a letter from Ray Conway, the association manager, thanking me for the state taken by the Argus-Observer and saying in part:

“…The discrimination (voters) showed at the polls is due to the n newspapers of the state who clarified the issue so well that the voters were able to understand our meager advertising and were not confused by the more elaborate arguments of the opposition.”

Perhaps Conway overestimated the effect of the newspaper’s work but this is one instance all right in which the newspapers certainly were influential in a genuine public service.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Trying to solve the time problem. What about liquor by the drink?

(Editor’s note: Oregonians are known as bunch of independent sorts. Maybe that’s because a good number, at least in Eastern Oregon, hail from Missouri, though not as many as from Nebraska. But that’s another story. In 1952, they were suffering from a confusion about time and faced a November ballot measure designed set them straight. In an October column my father, editor and publisher of The Ontario Argus Observer, tried to give voters some advice about an effort to clear up the confusion. Maybe it was because of all the confusion that some in the state wanted legalize liquor by the drink. My old man, who was no teetotaler, had some ideas about that as well.)

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch
(From an October 1952 column)

One (initiative) sponsored by the Farmers’ Union, would make daylight time illegal.

It is designed to end the time confusion Regon has every summer. It is supposed to provide for uniform standard time.

Two years ago voters approved a measure which the majority thought would result in uniform standard time. It provided for standard time to prevail unless the governor decided it would be to Oregon’s special advantage to proclaim daylight time.

Under this law, Gov.McKay did proclaim daylight time in 1951 but the part of the state preferring standard time refused to make the change.

During the past summer he left the state on standard time and Portland and some coastal and Willamette Valley cities adopted daylight time. So that was confusing too.

The Argus-Observer opposed the time measure approved two years ago and I will vote agains this one. Admitting that Oregon does have a confusion of time in summer months now, I can’t see how a law would solve the problem.

To my mind, the state has little business legislating time. It should help if the present confusing time were removed from the books, but not by substituting another time law.

If we would quite trying to legislate time, perhaps the areas of the state would follow their natural preferences and work out some reasonable solution to the time mess.

My suggestion: vote 325X No.


This proposed constitutional amendment would make it legal to sell liquor by the drink in private clubs and in restaurants, on trains, in private clubs and in fraternal and veterans organizations. It also provides local option for communities that don’t want this alaw to apply.

Its proponents argue that I would promote the tourist trade and, they say, promote temperance by enabling people to drink without having to buy a whole bottle ofliquore. They call themselves the”Buy Less Than A Bottle Committee.”

These are thin arguments to me. I just can’t believe that having liquor readily available by the drink promotes temperance. Oregon’s Knox Law has provided excellent handling of liquor in neighboring states. I am opposed to prohibition at the other extreme. The moderate middle course we follow now seems to me the best way of handling one of society’s major problems.

One serious objection to this measure is that it is a constitutional amendment. It would make the liquor by the drink privilege a part of our state constitution. Even if it were to be authorized it should be as a law and not as a part of the constitution.

Another major objection is that it would probably dot the streets of Oregon with saloons under the modern guise of clubs.

I recommend you vote 329X No on this measure.

(Editor’s end note: The problem I have with all of this stems from the fact that history is disappearing from our grasp when questions predate the Internet. To tell you how the vote went on these two items with any certainty, I’d have to order up back copies of Oregon newspapers. That would take weeks if not months from my location in California. My memory tells me that daylight savings time soon came to prevail in all of Oregon, though Malheur County remained confused because it was on Mountain Standard Time while most of the rest of the state was on Pacific Standard Time. As for liquor by the drink, I’ve seen evidence that it won approval. There were already saloons on Oregon Street, Ontario’s main drag. They were called pool halls, and I suspect they served up plenty of beer. I don’t think the number increased with passage of this amendment though maybe a few private clubs began serving up more drinks than before. If people started crashing their cars and bashing their mates more often, I didn’t notice. I was just 14 at the time.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Measure banning pari-mutual betting could be a gamble

(Editor’s note: In 1952, Oregonians were as ballot measure happy as Californians are now. There were 18 measures put before voters that fall. Four tell us something about the temper of the times. One would permit liquor by the drink. In Oregon then you had to buy your hard liquor at a state store. As I recall, the pool halls sold beer but I guess no hard liquor before 1952. Two other measures involved truckers and daylight savings time. More on those three issues will be included in coming posts. A fourth ballot measure would have banned pari-mutual betting on horse races. As explained below, it was proof that California didn’t invest the practice of writing ballot measures in ways that no one could be sure what they were voting for. My father didn’t like gambling and, as explained below, planned to vote for the ban. I can find no evidence that it was imposed to overturn something that had been going on since 1933. But it may have been cancelled or changed by the state’s adoption of a State Lottery in 1984.)

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch
From the Ontario Argus-Observer for Oct. 20, 1952

The Oregon Council of Churches together with some Portland business men sponsored this initiative to make pari-mutual betting on the races illegal. The bill was sponsored on moral grounds.

Most of the tax income from the races has been allotted to the county fairs and various special fairs and shows such as the PI, the state fair and the Pendleton Round-Up. It supports these shows. Malheur County has been a major recipient receiving over $90,000 for the fair here through the years and over $12,000 in the past year.

Most of the critics of pari-mutual racing conceded that the races have been cleanly and fairly operated under state supervision in Oregon.

My personal objection to this bill is that it is confusing in its language. It would become a constitutional amendment if passed and, as I understand it, would replace the existing constitutional provision against gambling. Some authorities think it is so poorly worded that while it prohibits pari-mutual betting it might permit other types of gambling unless expressly forbidden by the legislature.

I shall vote in favor of this measure because of my personal antipathy toward legalized gambling and my dislike of using gambling as a source of tax income. I think the fairs could be financed from other sources of income.

But I have no recommendation to readers on this measure because of its doubtful wording and because you will all vote your personal convictions on a moral question of this sort.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

As long as you know you are green, you continue to grow

Editor’s note: It was with this column that Don Lynch, editor and publisher of The Ontario Argus-Observer unveiled his personal front page column on Sept. 1, 1952. In it, over some five years, he frequently pulled back the covers on the town of Ontario, the spread-out farm and ranching communities of Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho as well as the newspaper he edited to serve the local residents.

The Argus Observes
By Don Lynch

This is the fifth anniversary of the consolidation of the Ontario Argus and the Eastern Oregon Observer into the Argus Observer. This consolidated newspaper has now served the Ontario area for five years as a semi-weekly. It has likely run more pages of newspaper per week, on the average, than any other one newspaper in a town the size of Ontario in the Pacific Northwest.

Some maturity must accrue to a newspaper on its fifth anniversary. Therefore this seems like a fitting occasion to begin a person column by the editor --- an idea we have been kicking around for a long time.

However, your editor doesn’t feel mature. Newsmen must guard against the feeling that they have arrived in professional competence.
The need for such humbleness on the part of working newsmen was well summarized by a sign that used hand above the sport desk in a Washington, D.C. newspaper. It read, “As long as you know you’re green you continue to grow, but when you’re ripe you start to get rotten.”

Columns like this one are standard features to be found in a great many newspapers these days. This trend stems in part from the tremendous readership acquired by syndicated news columns during the past generation. Success of the big columnist has caused editors to fee that a more personal touch would increase the readership of their own material.

For the past generation editors have bemoaned the fact that the readership of newspaper editorials has fallen off. In the days before movies, radio and television, frequently the best entertainment readily at hand was the writing of some old style fire-eating editor found on the editorial page of the local newspaper. Everyone read the editorials. Today editorials are read by a smaller percentage of newspaper subscribers --- sometimes referred to by editors as a “select” group.

The editor’s personal column represents an effort on the part of the editor to reach a larger general audience of readers. This was part of my reason for starting a column.

Another more important reason is the freedom and flexibility afforded by a column like this. Once can write easily in the first person about something he has read, a movie he has seen, an experience or idea he has had, all with an easy informality difficult to accomplish within the rather strict limitation of editorial style.

Selection of the name, “The Argus Observes,” is an obvious one taken from the name of the newspaper.

The name Argus comes from Greek mythology. Subsequent columns will deal with a variety of information and ideas. An early issue will tell the story of the Greek Argus.

Briefly the myth tells the story of a multi-eyed monster who was never supposed sleep so he was assigned important guard duty. But he was lulled into unconsciousness and failed at his job, much as some of today’s media.—The editor.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Weekly updates to start by Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009

Now that Oregon Quarterly has called attention to this blog, I expect to start new postings to judge continued interest. Beginning Sept. 6 I plan to post weekly one of my father's columns that focus on the character of Ontario and surroundings in the 1950s, and on the way the newspaper worked to report the news in a way that interested readers. Here and there I'll add editor's notes to include my own memories of the time, the place and the newspaper. As always, comments will be more than welcome.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Contemplating “The Next Million Years” by Charles Galton Darwin

Editor’s note: Picking up my scrapbook of Dad’s The Argus Observes columns, I quickly thumbed through for a mid-summer page in hopes of finding something current. This column, his localization of a futuristic book by the grandson of “the” Charles Darwin, struck me as something I’d never read. For the last few years, I’ve become obsessed with what could happen to the earth – and of course the quality of life – of my grandchildren over the next fifty years. And I had fooled myself into thinking the problems we face snuck up on us mostly unappreciated from a resource standpoint until the last 30 years. Not so. Here I re-present Dad’s column, written in 1953 about a book published the year before. And following that I’ll post two relevant quotations from the lone review now posted on Amazon of the book, which is now priced upwards of $200 secondhand. By coincidence, the review just was posted August 11, three days ago, by a prolific Amazon reviewer who has become fascinated with the subject you’ll find mentioned in the except. And he can point you to other books about the coming of a “ruling elite,” if you are interested.

The Argus Observes – June 29, 1953
From the Ontario Argus-Observer of that date

Are we living in the future population center of the United States?

We may be according to an idea advanced in a new book, “The Next Million Years” written by Charles Galton Darwin. The author is a grandson of Charles Darwin whose “origin of Species” published almost a century ago advanced the theory of evolution completely changing scientific concepts and disturbing the theology of our grandfathers.

Today’s Darwin thinks it will be difficult for man to survive during the next million years. Population may outrun food supplies. And man’s supply of fuel may soon become exhausted with tragic consequences because the earth’s fuel is necessary not only to cook our food and keep us warm but also to power the industry of civilization.

Darwin estimates that the world’s oil will be gone in about one hundred years and its coal in five hundred years. Even if his estimates are much too pessimistic we will eventually consume both fuels, perhaps within one thousand or two thousand years.

It is different with water power, the one fuel that abounds in this region. To quote Darwin:

“Waterpower is the only really big present source of energy that can be counted as income and not capital; it derives its energy from sunlight through the evaporation of water in the ocean and its precipitation as rain on the mountain tops.”

He writes further:

“The general picture of the economic condition of the world then is that the chief centre of power production and so of the most elaborate civilization, will be in the regions where there is water power, that is, speaking rather loosely, mountainous regions. It will be these that are the centres of manufacture, and they will exchange their manufactures for the surplus food produced in agricultural regions.”

Thus within the next few centuries this intermountain farming, ranching and forest region may become filled with “centres of manufacture” and so become the industrial heard of the United States with this nation’s “most elaborate civilization” on the western slope of the Rockies.

Don’t waste your time dreaming about an oil strike that will boom this country; rest assured a more permanent boom is coming only you won’t be here to enjoy it.

However, Darwin is pessimistic about the future of the world. He says:

“Now we are living in or perhaps at the end of the golden age, which may well prove to have been the greatest golden age of all time.”

So we should enjoy this wonderful country today. It may be richer but less pleasant for our descendents living here 500 years from now.

HERE IS A RECENT DESCRIPTION OF some of the content “The Next Million Years,” taken from the Amazon customer review authored by G. Charles Steiner of San Franciso.

(Darwin’s grandson suggests that) “because these wealthy families, generation after generation, have proven themselves "successful" because of their consistent "success" through time, they, therefore, must be of superior intelligence and ability over the rest of mankind, and, concomitantly, these families, and the individual members of these families, alone are fit to be the elite and to rule over and control the rest of the human race….

“The author concludes, presciently as well, that China will be the civilization emblematic of the future the elite are planning as it not only has endured for century after century, longer than the Roman Empire, but the very way of life in China, socially crowded and politically cowed, is a good paradigm for what the future of the entire world shall broadly look like in the 21st century with its provinces, dynasties, and collectivism spearheaded under one central head or world government owned and run by future descendants of the Darwin family and other ‘successful’ families in addition.”

(Readers can find the full review posted at the book’s page on Amazon so I won’t bother to include a link here, which would likely have to be pasted into you browser, a long process than an Amazon search.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Boise Statesman reprises its 145 year history

The Boise (Idaho) Statesman turned 145 on Sunday, July 26, 2009.

It's the daily newspaper I grew up reading in the late 1940s and early '50s. My father worked there as a classified ad manager after turning The Ontario Argus-Observer over to my mother in 1957.

Reporting the news in a growing Idaho city must have been a challenge many times over the years following 1864 when James Reynolds started printing the Tri-Weekly Statesman out of alog ccabin on Main Street, delivering news of the Civil War to the minors.

Long-time publisher Calvin Cobb bought the paper in 1988 and installed his son-in-law Joseph Perrault as editor.

The history published by the paper this Sunday in July notes that "Cobb brought the Idaho Statesman into the 20th century by advocating objective reporting. He signed the paper up with the Associated Press and became active in the organization nationally, eventually serving as president....

"After Cobb's death in 1928, his daughter Margaret Cobb Ailshie committed to follow his editorial policy. A socialite in Boise and Chicago, Ailshie loved the arts and advanced them in the Statesman by hiring her friend and confidant Betty Penson Ward as society editor....

"And the newspaper continued its efforts to support the growth of the community economically and intellectually. Ailshie through the newspaper advanced nearly all the money to build Bronco Stadium for then Boise Junior College. And the paper encouraged the businesses that were driving Boise's growth, including Boise-Cascade, Morrison-Knudsen, J.R. Simplot and Albertsons.

"But the 1950s also marked a troubling moment in the history of Boise and the Idaho Statesman. The newspaper's coverage of the so-called "Boys of Boise" scandal began with its Nov. 2, 1955, headline, "Three Boise Men Admit Sex Charges." Many prominent and powerful men in the community were prosecuted for homosexual activities and the Statesman's coverage was later criticized for contributing to the hysteria that ruined people's lives."

When Ailshie diedin 1959, the paper's general manager James L. Brown took over, then sold the newspaper to a Michigan-based chain, Federated Publications, in 1963.

That resulted in some changes in editorial philosophy, according to today's historical account:

" 'When we came in, the paper had become a very conservative organ in the community,' said Gene Dorsey, the first editor under Federated. 'I wanted the newspaper to not be as oriented toward conservative philosophy, to be more independent in supporting candidates for local, state and national office.'

"When the Statesman backed Frank Church for re-election, Democrats were shocked with the shift, Dorsey said.

"He also increased the size of the news staff and brought in new blood.

" 'It became a better paper under Gene,' said Ben Cross, then professor of journalism at the University of Idaho and now retired in Moscow."

For the full account of the newspaper's history carried in the July 16 issue of the Statesman, try pasting the following link into your browser:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Small New Hampshire chain closes – 120 fired

When Harvey Hill shut down his community newspaper chain headquartered in Claremont, New Hampshire on Friday, July 10, the shock waves traveled at least 40 miles south where Howard Weiss-Tisman of the Brattleboro Reformer reported widespread concerns:

“The closing of the Eagle Times is affecting approximately 120 employees, the towns that did business with the paper and fans of journalism who are worried about the future of newspapers in America,” he said in leading his report.
The firings also set off alarms at the state Capital. Weiss-Tisman also reported that the state “sent a Department of Labor rapid response team to the Eagle Publications office in Claremont to help the workers there who lost their jobs when the company abruptly announced it would be closing Thursday.”

This chain was local and independent, thus may have been publishing the kinds of community connected newspapers that are supposed to survive in this Internet dominated environment. From a distance, this blogger can’t know what really happened.

But Weiss-Tisman and a writer for the Concord Monitor noted that the reporters who worked for the paper were devastated. And community minded residents were disappointed.

The Brattleboro report added:
“ ‘They were trying hard to make the change to have more news on the Internet, but I guess it was not enough to keep it from closing,’ said (Jim) Mullen, municipal manager for the town of Bellows Falls which was served by the chain. ‘People depend on their local newspaper to get information on town government and the question is, if newspapers go away, how will people find about their government.’

“ ‘It's always sad when a newspaper shuts down its presses,’ said Marianne Salcetti, a journalism professor at Keene State College. "The death of any newspaper leaves a gaping hole. Newspapers are the soul of any community.’

“Hill purchased the company in 1995 and the paper was one the few remaining independent newspapers in the region.”

The report quoted one employee of the papers who said Hill had been pumping his own money into the business and employees knew it was in trouble.

But they had not anticipated the news that arrived at their work stations by email on Friday, announcing their immediate termination.

More than 50 years ago this blogger’s father struggled to keep his newspaper relevant to the town of Ontario, Oregon, and for the near term he clearly succeeded. Every day he made a decision as to how much money to plow back into the effort and how much to spend on his family.

We never suffered when he decided for the paper, which according to the column, posted below and written in October 1953, was the way the decision often went.

For more, try pasting this link into your browser:

Spending ‘generously’ on pictures and staff

The Argus Observes

By Don Lynch

From The Ontario-Argus Observer issue of Oct. 5, 1953

This is one of the most overworked weeks in the year. In addition to being national pharmacy week and national fire prevention week it is national newspaper week.
This week is used each year to remind readers of the importance of public service performed by newspapers and also to remind newspapermen themselves of their responsibilities.

Here is part of a “Journalistic Creed,” voicing ideals that really are taken seriously by virtually all newspapermen (Ed.’s note, and newspaper women who reported for my father, often in key roles but obviously were unconsciously overlooked by him with some frequency):

“I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

“I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness, are fundamental to good journalism.

“I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

“I believe that suppression of news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

“I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman, that bribery by one’s own pocketbooks is as much to be avoided as bribery the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.

“I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interest of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.”

The application of these ideals is more evident in the reporting of national and international news in the daily newspapers; but they do apply in much the same ways to the reporting of community news in a small town newspaper like the Argus-Observer.
I remember little violations of some of these principles that have been painfully embarrassing to me although they have probably gone unnoticed by mores readers. For instance:

Once when we had a new reporter writing the “In Other Days” column of notes from the files of former years, he picked up and retold some embarrassing crime stories long forgotten about local citizens who had since led exemplary lives.
On another occasion an eager reporter was publishing the lurid details of divorce complaints, which should be reported only in barest facts.

These were cruel, pointless stories. The person who had made a mistake and reformed should be granted the balm of public forgetfulness. Divorce items should only report the brief facts, so that the community knows the changing status of the individuals. No good is performed by broadcasting the miserable circumstances.

We spend far more time than readers might imagine just trying to handle the news with understanding and fairness for the individuals involved and at the same time with first consideration for the public interest.

Much of the responsibility of good country journalism likes in a willingness to spend generously of time and effort and money to give the public the best newspaper that can be had from the income available.

Perhaps the most difficult thing in newspaper management lies in establishing the balance tha provides the best paper possible and still retains a safe if modest margin of profit.

For instance, the Argus-Observer probably runs more pictures than any other non-daily newspaper in the Snake River Valley and more local pictures than many small dailies. This costs us the equivalent of half of one employees’ salary, quite a sizeable addition to profit if it were not spent.

But we spend generously for pictures in the belief that it makes a more interesting newspaper.

We get more than enough free handout material to fill the columns of the paper, stuff from government departments, various pressure groups and many manufacturers seeking free publicity.

Instead of using it we choose to use the community news from some 39 local reporters scattered throughout the county. They are modestly paid at best, but the total amount paid them in a year is a sizeable sum. However their report is the “meat” of the Argus-Observer which would be doing a miserable job if it ignored those communities.

We spend more than many papers for reporter time to cover the top government and public news, too, with the conviction that the product is worth the cost.
We spend freely for advertising helps (art) and services for the use of our advertisers and try to give as much attention as possible to the careful preparation of their copy.

Most important of all, everyone of the staff works hard and conscientiously.

I’m proud of our people, of their devotion to the newspaper and of the job they do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Becoming The Ontario Argus-Observer

By Larry L. Lynch
Posted at “” on Father’s Day, June 21, 2009

(Reprint as you like as long as the author and the blog are both credited)

Don Lynch fidgeted in the straight-back chair facing his Royal upright and placed his wire rim glasses on a pile of copy paper to the typewriter’s right. He sat surrounded by stacks of notes, clippings and old newspapers --- saved for story ideas and background.

Lynch leaned forward, closed his eyes and used his long fingers to massage his temples. At thirty-seven, he looked almost handsome despite his slightly asymmetrical cheekbones, a carry-over from the polio he suffered as a youth. He had a full head of wavy hair, a twinkle in his eye and usually displayed a half smile that showed off his dimples.

The other desks crowded into the front office of his twice-weekly newspaper, The Ontario Argus-Observer, were vacant. Lynch had saved this quiet Saturday morning, August 30, 1952, to find the right words to explain to readers why he was starting a personal, front-page column. The simple truth was that he wanted to do it and his news editor, Hugh Gale, was still on best behavior. It would be months before Gale would begin putting the phone down on a particular country cousin correspondent and walking away while she droned on.

The name Lynch chose for the column, “The Argus Observes,” almost selected itself, given the name of his newspaper. The mythological Argus, Lynch would explain to readers, had one hundred eyes, thus its use for newspapers. What’s more, it slept with only two eyes closed. Still, the name had its shortcomings. The Greek Argus failed had failed as a bodyguard, the assignment that made it myth-worthy. Bored by a lengthy bedtime story, the monster fell totally asleep and was slain.

Lynch knew it would be a mistake to come off in his new column as overly impressed with himself, but after five years and nine months as editor and publisher, he’d grown sure of his place in town. He wanted to “write easily” about his experiences and ideas using the “informality of the first person.”

For more than five years, as I passed through high school and on to college, my father did just that, aptly commenting on life in a small western town in the 1950s.

For the previous five years, he had run his newspaper under the close guidance of a veteran partner, Bernard Mainwaring, whose large bald head and vigorous physical presence was matched by a dominating personality and equally impressive intellect. My father once observed that his older partner, who avoided alcohol, had “little understanding of the inclination of others to drink because he was two drinks ahead of the average guy all of the time.”

Mainwaring owned the daily Nampa, Idaho Free Press when my father went to work for him in 1944. The Nampa publisher found something special in the former meter-reader reborn as an ad salesman and sports writer. After two years, Mainwaring decided to stake his salesman to a half interest in a weekly newspaper, one of two then serving Ontario, Oregon, population about 4,200.

Before Mainwaring and my father purchased it, The Argus had settled into a deep slumber that hardly noted the changes going on in town. In one of his last columns, the former editor and publisher made fun of himself in print for driving through a newly installed stop light on which he’d reported the week before.

Another sign of the lack of activity occurred one weekday afternoon in the fall of 1946. While my father and Mainwaring sat for two hours in the weekly’s office haggling over the details of the purchase, the phone remained eerily silent. That silence drove Mainwaring to distraction, but it didn’t scare him off.
My mother, my brother Dennis, and I rarely saw my father during the first four months of the new operation. That was the time it took to locate and buy a small, white clapboard house on a tree-lined street of mixed homes with an ample scattering of vacant lots four blocks southwest of downtown Ontario. At first, the three of us were stuck without a car in a massively ugly and cold grey stone rental house in nearby Payette, Idaho. Our wait was only relieved on Thursday afternoon when my father drove us to Ontario to join the madhouse of publication night.

I liked the smell of the mix of old newspapers and ink that pervaded the tiny store-front newspaper plant, but I hated the racket the machinery produced late on the evening of publication day. A printer stood on a platform at the side of a huge roller atop a two-page press feeding sheets of paper into place. To produce a four-page section, the operator turned the paper over, exchanged the forms holding the pages of lead type, and sent the sheets through a second time. On each revolution the press roared as the roller spun on its axis, then groaned when it reversed directions, and roared again. When the press run was far enough along that my father fired up the folder, its sound 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.

This was our quality family time. Women enjoyed my father, and he returned the favor. His appeal rested mainly with his ability to flatter them by listening intently. On these evenings, however, he forgot that compulsive diversion of his. And my mother, a short, striking, dark-haired dervish put to good use the work ethic she absorbed growing up on a dairy farm near Caldwell, Idaho. On these nights our parents accomplished something together.

From the outset, The Argus’ new owners planned to convince the publisher of the town’s other weekly newspaper to sell out. Mainwaring provided the operating cash for my father to undercut ad sales for that paper, the Eastern Oregon Observer, by practically giving away ad space in The Argus. They also arranged for The Argus to be delivered to everyone in town, whether paid subscribers or not.
My father’s patience with this approach began to wear thin by spring, however. He’d learned that everyone in town seemed to read the paper even though almost no one would buy ads.

Then, as he tried to keep up the pressure on the Observer, a piece of luck presented itself in the form of an editorial mistake.

Harry Peterson, a town patriarch who ran a furniture store at the other end of Oregon Street from the old Argus plant and also operated a local funeral home. One morning as my father walked through town to make a call on Peterson, he mulled over a new problem. He’d heard that Peterson was steaming because The Argus printed the wrong time for a funeral, and people around town were calling to complain.

“Harry, I’m sorry, that was a mistake,” my father shouted as he entered the store and climbed to the top of the stairs leading to Peterson’s desk, where it overlooked the furniture displayed on the floor below. “But if this mistake is so important to our readers, how is it that we don’t have any value as an advertising medium?”

From that time on, Peterson’s furniture store advertised in The Argus. Other merchants followed his lead and began to buy paid space.

That summer, the competition with the Observer came to a head. Compared with The Argus, which traced its first publication to 1896, the Observer was an upstart. Elmo Smith, an acquaintance of my father’s from Smith’s college days in Caldwell, had started the paper late in 1936 and had made a success of it, becoming a power on the local scene. He served as Ontario’s mayor during part of World War II. But by 1946, he was ready to move on. He sold the Observer that December to Jessica Longston, who also owned the St. Helens (Oregon) Sentinel-Mist as well as a newspaper and radio station in Burley, Idaho. As part of his deal with Longston, Smith had agreed to run the Observer for a limited time. Eight months later, with the competition wearing on both papers, something had to give. Mainwaring offered Longston more money than she could make by continuing to operate The Observer, and she agreed to sell. The Ontario papers were combined into one beginning in September 1947. Elmo Smith soon bought another paper in John Day, Oregon and began a career in state politics.

Through the decade my father operated the Argus-Observer, his biggest business headaches involved how to keep a back shop purring with country printers and unreliable equipment. Press breakdowns were commonplace, even after a refurbished, high-speed eight-page press was installed in a new building. The turnover among printers was even more maddening. They’d walk in the door looking for work, be assigned a stone-slab work table for assembling type, turn out a few weeks of decent ads and printing jobs, then collect their checks and disappear.

And yet the worst problem my father ran into with a printer was quite the opposite.

Before the end of this printer’s first week, the back shop foreman discovered he had to position the new guy at a make-up bench far away from every other employee and especially far away from a particularly cranky linotype operator. The guy smelled so foully of drink and bodily filth that no one could stand to work close to him. This printer required cash for his work on a daily basis. If he was paid weekly, he’d be broke within a day or two. Even so, the foreman wanted to keep him on the job until someone who could replace him walked in the door.

It didn’t work out that way. My father’s patience ran out when the printer missed a day of work but didn’t realize that he hadn’t shown up. He disrupted the entire office with his insistence that he receive the money for two days when he had only worked one.

The odiferous printer came from Yakima, Washington, so my father bought him a ticket for home, packed him a lunch, took him to the bus station, handed the ticket to the driver, and watched the bus pull out with him aboard.
He then called the printer’s wife to tell her that her husband was on his way: “She wailed, ‘Why did you have to send him home?’ She thought she’d gotten rid of him for good.”

At the end of 1952, Mainwaring sold his interest in the Argus-Observer to my parents to help finance his purchase of the Salem, Oregon Capital Journal. My father used “The Argus Observes” column of February 5, 1953 to pay tribute to the man he described as “at least a near genius as a newspaper publisher (and) the nearest thing to a genius of any one I have ever known.”

He noted that Mainwaring impressed people by acquiring a depth of information along specific lines and using it freely in conversation. He never smoked, never drank, and during the war went “careening all over Nampa on a bike, pell mell like a 25-year-old kid....I have seen him take a highball to avoid awkward explanation and then pour it down a sink or set it aside at the first opportunity. However a stranger at a cocktail party might think him the life of the party because his animated voice can be heard above the hubbub of others.”

My father believed in the value of child labor. I began working at The Argus when I was eleven, hauling bundles of freshly inked newspapers to the bus depot, drug stores and coffee shops, and riding my bike to small neighborhood groceries. Downtown I usually covered on foot. I gathered up an order or two and headed out of the back door of the plant, past a one-room cement jail that sat behind city hall. Occasionally, I stopped to jaw with a drunk still stuck inside come late afternoon. By the time I was in junior high, I picked up an extra dollar now and then by making cigarette runs for the guys drying out in the old jail. One day a printer saw me making the exchange, and reported it to my father, who put a stop to the arrangement.

By 1952, my father had fallen in love with the news side and would have been overjoyed to devote himself to it full time. But he knew that the business depended on him to sell the ads that brought in the money that made the newspaper financially viable.

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed news editors frequently walked in the front door without notice to inquire about a job. If one didn’t drop in at the right time, they were easy to procure through a help wanted ad in the industry bible, Editor and Publisher.

The turnover at the editor’s desk came to an end for three years during the summer of 1952. My father hired Hugh Gale, a veteran reporter, as news editor. Gale provided the time my father needed to begin his front-page column. And Gale provided me, at an impressionable age, with an intriguing example of what a newspaperman could be like.

To function well as a country editor, my father reluctantly conceded, it was necessary to have not only a little flair but also to be self assured enough to go your own way, despite what some of the townsfolk might say or think of you. Hugh was maybe the most independent --- certainly the most addicted to hanging out in the local bars --- of those who came along. He also possessed the ability, perhaps too rarely used, to charm most anyone with a gruff compliment. He was a pudgy, gnome-like man with a bushy shock of light, grey-streaked hair hanging over a florid face.

When he was going good, he sat hunched over his typewriter at his desk facing a long window looking into the back shop, using the nicotine-stained middle and index fingers of both hands to pound out stories.

Hugh kept his distance from the society editor at one end of his row of desks and from the two women behind him, the bookkeeper and circulation manager who took care of the front counter. But that didn’t stop the women from taking an interest in him. They learned that he was married but had left his wife in Washington, and they began to ask him repeatedly when his wife would arrive.

“My wife is a very, very large woman,” he said. “I doubt that anyone here is going to welcome her.”

When his wife walked into the office for the first time some months later, she proved to be petite and beautiful. Or, as my father used to say, “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.”

At the time he was hired, Hugh was warned “that sometimes the news was sparse and it took hard digging to get out an interesting paper,” my father wrote in a January 5, 1953 column.

“After a few weeks, he asked what I meant by dullness… The news seemed plenty active enough for him. In his first month… a man burned to death in a trailer house fire, there was a Grade A public row over the failure of the school board to rehire two teachers, the Malheur River flooded and then the Owyhee really flooded --- all on top of an active situation in school district, city and county news and plus the regular flow of the news.

“But in the in the dog days between the Fourth of July and the county fair he found out what I had been talking about. He almost walked a hole in the tile on the office floor trying to dream up stories good enough for the top front page positions.”

As time wore on --- and this was obviously related to why his wife took some time to follow him --- Hugh’s lifestyle began to impinge on his productivity.

“He is always late,” my father complained as summer turned to fall in 1954. Years later, in one of a series of pieces he wrote as part of an effort to syndicate a column about being a country editor, my father recounted the workplace sins of an anonymous “reporter we had once’’ --- who might have been easily identified by readers in Ontario:

“The talented but unstrung reporter came to work so late so often that finally I had to tell him, if he was ever late again I’d expect him to just ask for his check without waiting to be fired.

“After that, when he was out very late at night, he’d park his car in front of the office before he went home. About 9:30 the next morning, he’d come running in the back door with his hands full of notes, as if he’d been on an early morning news assignment at the city hall. He’d rush up to his desk and begin typing furiously, never looking up.

“It was easy to tell that he hadn’t been awake 15 minutes. However, even though he was an hour late, it was earlier than he’d been coming to work. So I let him think he was fooling me.”

Earlier, my father had played a different tune on his typewriter keys when Hugh actually moved on July 21,1955 to run his own newspaper in Kirkland, Washington.

Opening his column with the admission that he hated to see his editor leave “more than I had thought I would,” my father noted that Gale had “worked at the news with the abandon of a volunteer fireman. He was forever getting up at daylight to photograph the blowing of a gas well strike, or flying off to Jordan Valley to a cattlemen’s convention, or taking a rangeland tour to study the problems of range management. He took jaunts of this kind almost every week, generally on his own time.

“And he got around. He lived with the men in the street and the farmers in the fields. He made it his business to know what was going on in the community, what the average citizen was thinking. There is no substitute for this intense interest in society and not many news men have the quality in the degree possessed by Hugh Gale.”

After Hugh’s departure, my father put his column on hold. But he revived it in early 1956, and the timing of its return was less than accidental. A subject presented itself that my father badly wanted to write about --- the rise of his old acquaintance Elmo Smith to the job of governor. On January 31, of that year Oregon Gov. Paul Patterson died of a heart attack. As president of the State Senate, Smith succeeded him.

Less than a month later, my parents visited Eugene for a social event with the Smiths. Returning home, my father published a column describing how “the governor took off his coat and shoes, loosened his tie, flopped on my hotel room bed in Eugene. He looked beat from his first 17 days as governor of Oregon.”

Some of Smith’s friends in the Ontario area were concerned that the man they knew as Elmo would change under the pressures of his new job.

My father suggested they “needn’t worry.” At an evening cocktail party with old friends, Smith had “trotted around the lobby with his hands jammed in his pockets, his shoulders hunched forward, his coattails flying, his hat pushed to the back of his head, and one hand periodically raising in that ‘hi’ salute, a mannerism that is uniquely his. He looked almost exactly like he did peddling ads on Oregon street ten years ago.”

During the following months, my father threw every ounce of editorial support he could justify, and some he couldn’t, into helping his friend win election to the governor’ post that November. But it wasn’t to be. Smith lost to the Democrat, Bob Holmes, a radio station manager from Astoria.

My father never admitted as much to me, but knowing the restlessness that was brewing in his soul, I’m almost certain he hoped that a Smith victory would mean a job for him in the new administration in Salem, a chance to get away from the newspaper --- and from family demands --- a least for a while.

The next May while I was off at college and my brother was in high school, he announced that he had turned the publisher’s job over to our mother so he could take a position helping to manage classified ad sales at The Statesman newspaper in Boise, Idaho, 65 miles to the east.

“This change was only possible,” he wrote in his May 23, 1957, column, “because Mrs. Lynch was willing to assume the rather demanding job of being editor and publisher of The Argus-Observer….

“In this particular case the wife is better qualified to manage the newspaper than she realizes. She has been closest to its problems for a long time, and has worked at all of the tasks required --- reporting, advertising and accounting. This is a broader background than my own because I couldn’t do the accounting.”

Time proved my father correct about my mother’s publishing skills. She whipped the staff into the kind of shape that increased profits year over year until 1963 when she decided to sell because neither one of her sons was interested in returning to Ontario to help her out.

My parents divorced and my father went on to a long career as a newspaper business manager, editor and writer. But he never again found work that was quite as satisfying. Late in life, he tried to develop a book out of his columns for the Ontario newspaper, but he couldn’t make it work. “All that old newspaper stuff and Ontario stuff as I wrote it in the rough draft would never be read today,” he concluded in a letter to me, written May 10, 1995 at the age of eighty. He then willed me his papers in the hope that I could re-direct the material “to the interests of today’s audiences.”

And in a draft introduction to the book he would have liked to write, he summed up his experience quite simply yet eloquently:

“A half century ago we had outlived our time mechanically. We were still using the same method of inking a raised impression and pressing paper against it that Gutenberg had worked out 500 years earlier. We were still printing with stinking-hot melted lead, clanking linotypes, and noisy presses. Even so we still had a sort of built-in community influence that is now as out of date as a horse and buggy. It was 45 years ago when I got in on the final years of that ancient world. I was one of the last of the old-fashioned country editors. What a privileged way to start a lifetime of journalism.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Some changes are coming at Remembering the Argus

The disappearance of newspapers is so thoroughly documented on a plethora of Web sites that I’m not going to be posting a lot here. In fact, what I have coming soon is a “factual” historical essay about my father’s tenure at The Ontario Argus Observer.
When that shows up I’ll be trimming the posts at this web site to columns written by my father with some editorial observations about that time, and now those columns figure in my book, “Farewell Bend.” Later on as time and my interests permit, I’ll be adding new columns – mostly from the months of the years that correspond to current time – but go back some 55 years.
If by chance you want to read the book and haven’t yet done so, some 98 percent of it is still posted at “FarewellBendtheNovel.” Follow the link on this page and scroll backwards through the months to the first post. After all you should have to do a little something to download the book for free. (Simply use the copy function in your browser. You shouldn’t have to go to too much trouble to clean them up. Maybe put in some paragraph breaks. And remember to number the chapters in the name of the files as you download them.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The questions multiply as print newspapers struggle to survive

This week reports from across the country gave us more reason to worry about community papers, and some reason to hope.

The worry comes from a Pew Research Center report that theorizes Craigslist is killing off newspaper classified sections. There’s no doubt that large papers are losing classified ads as the use of Craigslist grows and encourages local use. I recently considered selling and/or buying a bicycle in the San Luis Obispo area and where did I look first --- Craigslist. My assumption was that it would be a more complete listing of what’s out there and without checking against the local daily, I suspect I was correct.

If you want to look at the Pew study and follow the debate, which is quite heated with many Craigslist defenders, go to the Pew web site at:

But this discouraging news did not keep a small, local chain of newspapers from expanding in the Bremerton, WA area.Here’s what the paper had to say about its new venture, which involves both print --- distributed free – and a web site:

“Beginning Thursday, the Kitsap Sun is launching the newest member of its Life family of community newspapers. Bremerton Life will debut as a monthly community newspaper, and will be direct-mailed free to 18,000 single-family residences in Manette, East Bremerton and waterfront homes in the West Bremerton, Kitsap Lake and Chico Way areas. Select business locations in the downtown area also will serve as points of distribution.
“Kitsap Sun former features editor and marketing director Deb Smith has been named contributing editor of the new publication and will write stories and shoot photos for the paper and its companion Web site,”

But my favorite story of the week was one that confirms my bias against community newspapers that are part of large chains. I just assume these corporate efforts have lost touch with their communities and hired young reporters who have little experience and aren’t inclined to stay around. Maybe I’m wrong but here’s the full story of one death of some local papers in Minnesota.

I hope the Bob Shaw, the writer for the Pioneer Press which published this story, will consider the full publication of much of his story a compliment. You need it all to get the flavor.
The headline reads: “In the east metro, tough times threaten small newspapers”

He starts by noting that:

” Bankruptcy has been declared by the company that owns the four-day-a-week Stillwater Gazette and other metro newspapers, and the papers are up for sale. The company shut down a weekly newspaper in Inver Grove Heights in February.
“Early this month, weekly newspapers were axed in Stillwater and Lake Elmo.”
The Lake Elmo Mayor complained, according to Shaw’s report, that “Lake Elmo Mayor Dean Johnston. He said the town doesn't have a natural gathering place such as a high school or a business district, so the newspaper, the Lake Elmo Leader, helped define the city.”
And Yvonne Klinnert, who had been editor of the Leader, noted that closing the paper down was “the most difficult thing I have ever done in my career.”
One of the other reporters said the laid off employees, numbering seven, were mostly given no notice and three days severance.

Added Shaw: “The next day, Klinnert had to deliver the bundles of the final edition herself.
" ‘I am the only employee at this point," she said.”
I guess in her case I’d make an exception. She’s no doubt something more than a two-year wonder. But you have to worry about the small town newspaper chain owners that are making these decisions.
These were not the leading papers in their towns.
Shaw went on to explain:
“The papers were owned by RiverTown Newspapers, a division of Fargo, N.D.-based Forum Communications, which owns daily and weekly newspapers across the Upper Midwest.
“ 'It Takes Revenue' / RiverTown director Steve Messick said it was painful to close the Lake Elmo and Stillwater papers.
“ ‘It's a sign of the times," he said. “Stillwater did an excellent job. But it takes revenue.’
“The Leader was started six years ago. The Courier was founded in 1988, and RiverTown bought it in 2005.
“ Messick said the newspapers couldn't compete with longer-established newspapers — including the Stillwater Gazette and the Oakdale/Lake Elmo Review.”
Even the chains that own the long-established papers are having trouble, however.
Noted Shaw:
“The (Stillwater) Gazette is owned by American Community Newspapers, which declared bankruptcy in April. When asked about consequences of the bankruptcy, spokesman Joe LoBello said there will be "no impact on day-to-day operations." But LoBello said the newspapers will be auctioned off by the end of the month.”
For more of the story go soon to:

Monday, May 18, 2009

The new and (maybe) prospering community newspapers

Somewhere in this country almost every day a publisher, editor or writer for a community newspaper tells us they are doing well in the face of the meltdown of the big corporate dailies.

Tracking this for some months, I've concluded that may be true in small communities where the publisher and the editor and the writer are living in the town and invested there.

Corporate chains of weeklies and small dailies aren't having the same success, I sense, because they are too removed from the communities. Their local hires may stay around for a couple of years but aren't there to stay. It shows in the product and in the bottom line.

That's just a superficial judgment based on what I've seen at a glance. If there proves to be any reader interest, I'll take a harder look at this in coming weeks.

For now I would like to point you to a pair of columns in publications that call themselves local newspapers but have the appearance of on-line local papers. I can't be sure because I'm not there to check it out.

Here are the links to their websites and in each case a column about this issue. You may have to paste them into your browser to get there.

First from the publication serving Opelika and Auburn, Alabama:

And second from a publication serving the reaches of agricultural land and communities along I-5 from Justine to Santa Nella in California:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finishing Farewell Bend -- then what?

I'm planning now to post at least a chapter a week at my blog Farewell Bend the Novel until I run out of chapters. Which is not that many weeks away. Andd then what?

I'd like to find some useful and less than cliche way to write about what is happening to newspapers. And, as a result, to those of us still alive who love them. But I'm not sure right now how to approach the subject in a way that will contribute to the discussion. I've a few weeks to see what I can come up with.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Celebrating Larry Horyna’s life on April 25, 2009

Here’s his story as published in the Park Record, Park City Utah, on April 17, 2009:

Larry Leroy Horyna, longtime resident of Park City, passed away unexpectedly in Goodyear, Ariz., on April 7, 2009, due to heart failure. Larry was a wonderful father, husband and grandpa, and an outstanding professional, mentor and true friend to many people. If you knew Larry, you shared his wisdom, sense of humor and sensitivity toward others.

During the last three-and-a-half months of his life, Larry and his wife, Pat Brogan, were enjoying life to the fullest, living in Goodyear, Ariz., at Pebble Creek with his "tribe" of Oregon Duck friends. Larry was golfing, attending baseball games, swimming, entertaining many friends, taking road trips, cooking and having a glass or two of red wine at the end of each day.

Larry was born in Ontario, Ore., on January 28, 1938, to Stanley and Margaret Horyna, who preceded him in death, along with his younger brother, Richard. His sister, Joan Wright, resides in Ontario, Ore. Larry has two sons, Timothy David (Julie) of Salt Lake City, and Matthew James (Tiffany) of Park City. Larry's brightest stars were his two granddaughters, Arianna and Amaia.

Larry and Pat met in 1953 at a May Day Festival in Payette, Idaho. After graduating from Ontario High School in 1956, Larry joined the U.S. Air Force. He played football at the University of Oregon from 1960 to1964. Upon graduation, he married Pat on May 30, 1964, in Eugene, Ore. In 1968 Larry earned a MS degree from Central Michigan and in 1970 he returned to the University of Oregon as the Regional Center Director of Community Education. He and his family moved to Park City in 1985, and he worked as an administrator with the Utah State Office of Education until his retirement in 2000.

A celebration of Larry's life will be held at Park City's St. Mary's Catholic Church on Hwy 224 on Saturday, April 25, at 2 p.m., followed by a wake at the Elk's Club on Main Street from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Attendees are requested to wear a golf shirt and be prepared to shout, "Go Ducks!"
P.S. Our only regret is that it did not happen on the 18th hole looking at a birdie putt.

In lieu of flowers, please send a contribution in the name of Larry Horyna to the charity of your choice, or to the University of Oregon, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, 2727 Leo Harris Parkway, Eugene, OR 97401

Editor’s note: There has been some suggestion by members of Larry’s class of 1956 at Ontario High School that we post stories of his life in new blog, probably titled “Tiger Tracks” after the newsletter he used to help us keep in touch. We could then use that blog as a way for the class to stay in touch, posting comments and pictures. If that is something readers and classmates would like to do, send your stories to the email address of this blog, I’ll set up the blog when I receive enough material and let classmates and contributors know when we get it going.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Horyna memorial service planned

Verl Doman, a classmate in the Ontario High School class of 1956, on Thursday, April 9, provided this information about Horyna’s death and plans for a memorial celebration:

“I have just finished talking to Pat and she asked me to convey to all of you her great appreciation for all of your thoughts and prayers. She asked me to tell you that Larry was enjoying life to the fullest, having spent the last three months in Arizona, golfing, watching baseball, golfing, relaxing and golfing. He was taken by a sudden massive heart attack and though there were continuous efforts at resuscitation both by the paramedics and at the hospital, he never responded. She said that there could have been no better circumstance, except she would have preferred it much later, for him to go, as he was in the height of his glory these last few months. She said that she was grateful that his passing precluded any suffering or lingering illness, and as we all continue to age will all agree that is a great blessing.

“He wanted to donate his skin, which he has done, and thus will be cremated prior to being brought back to their Park City home. Pat expects that it will take some time to get him home and that a celebration of his marvelous life is tentatively planned for April 25th in the Park City Elks Lodge. More details will be made available leading up to that event. He will be interred at the VA Cemetery in Salt Lake City.”

Friends and former associates of Horyna who might stumble upon this page and want to reach his family can email us at and we’ll try to put them in touch.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tribute to Larry Horyna who died this fourth month of 2009

The last time I talked to Larry Horyna he told me how proud he was of his football efforts on the University of Oregon team. I was surprised because I hadn’t followed his career then. When I ran into him in the library when we were both students there, he starting out on a football scholarship after the Army and I about to finish up my senior year, he said he was focusing on his school work. Football was just a way to a degree. He must have changed his view over the years while I was off trying to get started as a newspaper reporter.

Anyway, I do know that he carved out an exceptional career as an educator in Oregon, spending some of his huge energy on helping youngsters who were coming from tough backgrounds – maybe because he worked his way up in life the hard way though he never talked about that, at least to me.

My father in his later years, when we talked about the Ontario newspaper and my dad’s years there, frequently mentioned how much he was impressed by Horyna’s strength and leadership as a young man. (Frankly, playing across from him as a second string center, I was often impressed by his strength but I can’t say I liked it.)

Anyway, I sometimes go back to the following editorial my father crafted after our sad 9-8 loss to Vale in our senior football year in high school. Larry was a bulwark of that team and probably felt the loss as hard as anyone, though I know over his life he maintained friendships with many of the Vale players who whipped our team.

But enough of that: Here’s what my dad wrote after that Vale game:
His editorial, titled “These Were Our Boys,” included this passage with its tribute to Horyna’s appetite for watermelon:

“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, we 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.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Coming soon -- A trip to Baker City

Jack takes a trip north to Baker City to visit his friend Pete, who is working hard selling ads and taking photos for the Baker City Herald. That's in Chapter 17 of Farewell Bend the novel, to be posted next at the blog.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Get the true story

If you want to know the real life story behind Chapter 10, now posted at "FarewellBendtheNovel" go to my oldest blog, where you'll find it in detail. That's T.C.Lessons. You'll find the link alongside here at "RememberingTheArgus."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sorry for the delay

It's clear that my other activities are keeping me from posting chapters of Farewell Bend the novel as promised. I hope to soon begin to cath up --- Larry L. Lynch, 2-23-09.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What was Minidoka?

Since I began preparing my “fictional memoir” for publication 18 months ago, the National Parks Service has significantly improved the information and photos about Minidoka Internment at the national monument’s website. Minidoka was the place many of my classmates in real life were taken after being scooped up from their homes in Western Oregon and Washington at the beginning of World War II. Some of their experiences coming from Minidoka to live in Ontario are dealt with at some length in the novel. But much more information about the entire experience they and their parents went through is available on the web. One place to start, if you are interested, as at the Minidoka National Monument website:

(Copy and paste the link into your browser to get there.)

To read about classmates from Minidoka follow the Farewell Bend the Novel link on this page. For this chapter, I’ve inserted line spaces between paragraphs because those are longer than elsewhere in the novel. – Larry L. Lynch

Friday, February 13, 2009

Readers will have to do a little work

Making things easy for readers is the job of a good editor. But I want to get Farewell Bend the novel posted at the blog by that name without a lot of work. I should be able to keep up posting a new chapter each day until the end. To do so, I am dropping the job of inserting a line space between paragraphs. Short lines will be your guide. This should enable me to post a new chapter every day. -- Larry L. Lynch

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

All right, I've been among the missing

It's been a long time since I posted any chapters of Farewell Bend the Novel at the blog by that name. Now I'm going to try to make up for the absence by posting a chapter a day. That should get us through to the end in short order.

-- Larry L. Lynch (Not to be mistaken for Jack Kavanagh, the fictional narrator of his fictional memoir.)

To read the first five chapters go to or simply click on the title to this post.