Our apologies, drouth story didn’t make it rain

Okay, I did my part. You’re on your own now with the drouth.

Last week’s Reporter featured a big front page photo of a dry, cracked stock tank, burned up crops and a big headline: “No rain, no relief in sight.”

Many years ago we did something similar. I think it hadn’t rained a drop in 67 days or whatever and we had a big drouth photo and story on the front page.

That Wednesday I delivered papers in the rain. All day!

And yes people would see me, rain slicker over the papers to keep them dry, splashing through parking lots into businesses to deliver the papers with our big story about the drouth.

Of course, I got lots of helpful comments about the timing. I decided my best defense was to take credit for the rain.

“Hey, we caused this,” I joked.

That worked fine until a gentleman, twinkle in his eye, inquired, “Well then, why didn’t you run this story six weeks ago?” —mb— We almost always get interesting comments when the paper comes out on Wednesday afternoon, sometimes during the distributions.

I think I can speak for all of us who have delivery routes in identifying our favorite comment. Which is:

“Are those the new ones?”

Just think about it. I will have, oh, 50 or 60 newspapers in my arms, someone will watch me take them out of a vehicle, trudge through the doors of a business and set them down by the rack.

A nd t his person, who has observed the whole process, will come over and say “are those the new ones?”

I think once I actually said “No, last week’s was so good we printed it again.” —mb—

I started out working for The Reporter at the tender age of 23 and I’ve learned a lot of things. Well, a few things. Well, I got older anyway.

One of them was, it’s a bad idea— and more than a little unfair—to put the name of anyone charged with a crime into the 10-20-40 column in the paper.

(It became 10-20-40-100 last year).

Someone may have made a youthful mistake, been a model citizen for the past 40 years and really doesn’t deserve to have that all brought up again in a history column.

But I did it, not too long after I started work at The Reporter, mentioned the name of a man in connection with an incident 40 years ago.

He still lived in Rockdale. He called me. Uh-oh. Instant lesson from life, not from a journalism textbook. K now what he wanted? I’d spelled his name wrong. He wanted it corrected in the next issue.

Which we did.


But the best “paper delivery day” story was from the early 80s.

It so happened that April 1, 1981, was the day for which the paper would be dated.

So Publisher J. W. “Bill” Cooke and yours truly put together a wholly-fictional front page.

Oh, we put everything into it. Reporter readers learned:

• The USDA had sent a giant boot to stamp out fire ants.

• Rockdale’s city council disbanded and donated the city fleet to the “Dukes of Hazard” TV show.

• County redistricting was stalled when the group Persons Endeavoring to Save Texas (PEST) re-drew lines to include more left-handed people.

• The school board heard 7-1/2 hours of testimony on evolution vs. creationism before declaring the earth was created Oct. 14, 1950 in a 1947 Plymouth.

• Alcoa moved its corporate headquarters from Pittsburgh to Rockdale.

All the stories jumped to page 3A. On Page 3A a giant “APRIL FOOL” directed everyone to the actual front page which was on 2A.

Bill and I were almost giddy when we wheeled the cart with the first papers to the front of The Reporter, put them in the sidewalk racks and ran inside, barely ahead of our first customer.

We watched as she purchased a paper, then held it up.

She f lipped our masterpiece over, opened it, back page first, and began to scan the garage sales.

She never even looked at the front page.

Oh well, at least we made it rain.


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2011-08-18 digital edition

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