I received a bit of news from back home today about my local newspaper. Even though I haven’t seen an official press release, I’m told by reliable sources The De Kalb News will cease to exist by the end of the month. While that decision surprises a lot of readers in the area, it’s merely another swan song for one of the hundreds of similar publications across our country.
I didn’t read about the news in The News itself. I read about it on facebook. The irony of that right there ought to tell you why the publisher decided to stop the presses. I’m told its sister publication, the Bowie County Citizens Tribune will continue to be printed but it will only hit newsstands once a week (instead of the usual bi-weekly schedule readers are used to).
You knew you were sure somebody when you got your name in the paper. Your grandparents would call their friends. Your local banker or funeral director would cut your picture out with pinking sheers and laminate it and mail it to you as a gift. Your cousins over in Oklahoma or Arkansas would call you a week after it hit the stands because they receive their paper in the mail.
Sometimes I went to visit Mamaw Tidwell in Siloam, but my name would be left off her list of visitors in the “Wards Creek News” section on the back page. I made sure to let her know I didn’t see my name. Sure enough, the next visit would be documented properly. Mrs. Letha Baugh was the “reporter” for this section. Mrs. Letha would call Maude Tidwell and a dozen other ladies. They would report who came to see them. The next week, everybody knew you’d been to Siloam/Wards Creek/Simms to have chocolate pie and cold fried chicken with your great grandmother.
The “Wards Creek News” was probably the last of the community sections to go. Once upon a time, there was the “Hubbard News,” the “Springhill News,” and maybe even the “Avery News” sections. Mrs. Marie House was diligent about the goings-on in Bethlehem.
A few other columns over the years came and went. “Idoms of Interest” with Bro. Matt Idom appeared within its pages in the 80’s. Dalby Springs had it’s share of space too. The list could go on.
I can remember seeing my name or picture in the paper as a kid. There was the year I won the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. Daddy did most of the work on that little car but I got to pose for the camera with my trophy and car. There was the honor roll pictures every six weeks from elementary school. I appeared less frequently when I was in Jr. High. Pre-Algebra wiped that honor out all together. Around Christmas one year, I was featured for making some resolution for the new year.
“I’m going do get good grades in school,” was part of the quote (I think?). The first time I failed Algebra, I came home to a grounding, no TV, and a dozen copies of that edition plastered all over my room as a reminder of that resolution. The power of media, eh?
Based on the old papers I have hanging up in my office here, they were putting out volume 62 in 1968. That would mean The De Kalb News was first published in 1906 but that number doesn’t seem right. I’d have to research that one.
The paper office burned in ’71 when it was downtown De Kalb. Any sign of a paper office disappeared prior to the ’99 tornado. All the labor was based in New Boston. Despite that minor annoyance, the reporters and editors commuted. It was still nice to have a ‘paper of record’ for the town. Even though you’ll still see stories in the Tribune, it won’t be the same.