In case you didn’t know, Whitley County is 200 years old this year! That’s an amazing milestone. The city where this newspaper was founded in 1908 has gone to great effort to have a month-long celebration for the bicentennial in April. So, we decided to join in on the fun.
This week, we got in the proverbial time machine to take you way back to when this newspaper looked quite a bit different. The A-section of this week’s edition of the The Whitley Republican is modeled after the look of the newspaper in the year 1950.
We aren’t calling it The News Journal, this week. That name didn’t exist until 1992.
We’ve tried to replicate the look as best we can, but there are some compromises. I think the final result is satisfying.
It’s been interesting to go back through bound volumes of this newspaper from years past to see what it looked like then. Lines separating EVERYTHING. Headlines were tiny. Photos were, by today’s standards, scarce.
The Whitley Republican, at that time, was typically an eight-page newspaper. And those eight pages had, seemingly no organization whatsoever. The front page would have everything under the sun on it in no particular order. Right alongside the typical cops and courts type hard news would be reports from the homemaker’s club, family reunion announcements and obituaries. Every page was just a cornucopia of information. Who joined the military and where they will be deployed? Elections of officers at all the local clubs? Random cartoons would appear just about anywhere.
The editorial page would include court records, classified ads and often had other advertising on it, alongside farm news, state political opinions, very spirited anti-communist rants, pro-McCarthyism, and strident patriotism.
Speaking of advertisements, there’s some great stuff in there. Beautiful women posing with bottles of ice cold cola. Wonderful cinema ads with impressive artwork for each movie. As an aside, I did not know there was a Dixie Theatre in Williamsburg!
I like the ad I found for vitamins, or some kind of oil, that promises to make your young children “fat as hogs!” I thought that was funny. You could get it at the local drug store.
And scripture from the Bible was tucked in every nook and corner of the newspaper. You were never far from a quote from The Good Book.
There was very little sports coverage. I found that odd. Subscriptions were just $3 a year. Must pay in advance.
Truthfully, though, it all looked kind of spontaneous and wild. Sometimes we tend to think, with the passage of time, that the way we do things today is inherently better or superior to years past. There is a natural arc of improvement and progression to society, that’s true enough. But you could just tell, those old newspapers had their finger on the pulse of the community. They were alive and vibrant and just PACKED with information! Flipping through the aged yellow pages of yesteryear has given me a better sense of what this newspaper, and county, is all about. You can just feel that The Whitley Republican meant something to the community. It WAS the local Internet of its time.
We are hoping that this edition of The Whitley Republican is something you will find amusing. Hopefully, it will be a keepsake.
I want to thank all of our advertising sponsors and supporters for making this possible.
No matter how many years go by, and how much the look of the newspaper may change, our mission remains the same —
“A paper devoted to the interests of the people of Williamsburg and Whitley County.”
Thanks for reading!