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.