News­pa­pers, mag­a­zines in my early life

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION - JERRY NI­CHOLS Colum­nist

My fam­ily, as I was grow­ing up, al­ways sub­scribed to two news­pa­pers and to sev­eral mag­a­zines.

In the early 1940s news­pa­pers and ra­dio sta­tions were not plen­ti­ful in north­west Arkansas. Back then we al­ways sub­scribed to the South­west TimesRecord as our daily pa­per. The Times-Record was pub­lished in Fort Smith, and came to us by mail.

In those years the Pea Ridge com­mu­nity was a one-ru­ral-route com­mu­nity, so our mail was de­liv­ered to Route 1, Pea Ridge, Ark. We may have had a box num­ber, but if so I never knew it, and it was not nec­es­sary to write a box num­ber for the mail to reach us. Rus­sell Ni­chols, Route 1, Pea Ridge, Ark., was enough of an ad­dress for the mail­man to know where to de­liver our mail. Zip codes hadn’t been in­vented back then, and out-in-the-coun­try lo­ca­tions didn’t have street-like names for roads or house num­bers such as we have to­day. Our Times-Record

news­pa­per was de­liv­ered ev­ery day, but al­ways a day late.

We also al­ways sub­scribed to the Ben­ton County Demo­crat. The Demo­crat

was a Ben­tonville news­pa­per, pub­lished weekly. Their of­fices were along south side of the first block of West Cen­tral Av­enue in Ben­tonville. The Demo­crat

of­ten car­ried lo­cal Pea Ridge news, and many Pea Ridge busi­nesses ad­ver­tised in the Ben­tonville pa­per. I would very much like to be able to look up some of the old copies of the Ben­ton County Demo­crat,

al­though I un­der­stand that most of the orig­i­nals were lost when a fire de­stroyed a portion of the Massey Ho­tel build­ing some years ago.

My first mem­o­ries of read­ing the news­pa­per comes from the war years, dur­ing World War II. My Dad would come into the house after the even­ing’s chores were done, sit in his rock­ing chair be­tween the black wood heat­ing stove and the ra­dio stand near the south­east win­dow in our liv­ing room. I would sit in his lap and he would read parts of the pa­per to me, es­pe­cially the comic page, with Lit­tle Or­phan An­nie, De­tec­tives Dick Tracy and Sam Ketchem, Al­lie Opp, Lit­tle Lulu and her friend Sluggo, Dag­wood and Blondie, Li’l Ab­ner by Al Capps, and Mutt and Jeff. Dag­wood and Blondie is the long­est running news­pa­per car­toon that I am aware of. The Bum­stead kids have never grown up, al­though some 80 years have passed. Dag­wood still works for J.C. Dithers, still gets chewed out nearly ev­ery day, and Herb is still Dag­wood’s neigh­bor and friend. But, now, Blondie runs a ca­ter­ing busi­ness in­stead of be­ing a stay-ath­ome Mom, and Dag­wood goes to work in a car­pool in­stead of ev­ery day al­most miss­ing his ride on the city bus line. Dick Tracy and Sam Ketchem in­tro­duced the two-way wrist ra­dio, which is the pre-cur­sor of to­day’s cell phones and smart phones. We have them now in a big way, but the idea for them was hatched in the 1930s.

Our mag­a­zines at home were mostly farm mag­a­zines. We were long-time sub­scribers to the Farm Jour­nal. Also, early on, we sub­scribed to a sim­i­lar farm mag­a­zine called The Coun­try Gen­tle­man. The Coun­try Gen­tle­man went out of busi­ness while I was still a boy, but the Farm Jour­nal en­dured for long years. We also took the Hoard’s Dairy­man, a large for­mat mag­a­zine de­voted to dairy cows and milk pro­duc­tion. After 1953, milk pro­duc­tion be­came the main focus of our farm op­er­a­tion, and the Hoard’s Dairy­man mag­a­zine helped us keep abreast of

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