Publisher's beginning shrouded in secrecy
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Sep 06, 2012 | 1100 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week’s Fast Talk included a summary of how two young guys from Iowa ended up in Patterson 50 years ago and became co-publishers of this newspaper.

That was a while back, and our first issue published on Sept. 6, 1962, included the first Fast Talk that began as follows:

“A shroud of secrecy, if extended over a period of time, develops a sinister atmosphere … or one where cloak-and-dagger techniques would not seem out of the ordinary.

“It wasn’t quite that bad, but we had been living in Patterson several weeks before the sale of the Irrigator was announced. We were downtown a great deal, talked with many of Patterson’s businessmen, and asked plenty of questions. AND WE COULDN’T TELL A SOUL WHO WE WERE, WHAT WE WERE DOING, AND WHY EVERYTHING WAS UNDERCOVER.

“Quite naturally grocery clerks began to stare, post office employees raised their eyebrows each morning, waitresses became suspicious, bank clerks remained courteous but politely refrained from asking any further questions, and even our landlady (Louise DeLash) was in the dark.

“After all, what could possibly be worse than a newspaper being ‘scooped’ by word of mouth? Thus the sinister secret.”

Our first photos

We assumed ownership from Ira and Noni Kaplan on Sept. 1 of that year — a Saturday when the office was closed. And of course Monday was Labor Day, a holiday, so it was Tuesday morning before we officially greeted the public as editors and publishers.

By then, we were well behind meeting deadlines that loom daily for every newspaper in the world. And speaking for myself, I never seemed to catch up, always running late for the next 40 years. I blame it on that first short week.

Looking over that first issue the other day brought back vivid memories. The front page announced the start of school, including Sacred Heart Catholic School. It opened for the very first time on our very first day on the job. To note the occasion, we ran a photo of fourth-grader Carol Scheuber, daughter of the Al Scheubers, and third-grader Alan Matteri, son of the John Matteris. They were dressed in their brand-new school uniforms.

The other two photos noted the end of summer for other youngsters, including the young daughters of Bob and Dorothy English, Cindy and Debbie, pictured at the library. The other, taken on a playground, showed Armando Curiel Jr., son of the Armando Curiels, and Jill Morgan, daughter of Ray and Deloris Morgan. All were 8 years of age and younger.

Inside was a photo of Jean Howard, the music instructor at Patterson High who began her duties here the same day we did. She soon went on a crusade to purchase new band uniforms, and the community rose up to meet the $35,000 cost. I realized then that Patterson was the place I wanted to be.

The very first editorial explained that Ed and I had searched nine months for a small-town weekly newspaper to purchase. We strongly believed we had found the right one. I believe that to this day.

Election time

No, not the national conventions. I refer to Patterson’s upcoming mayoral and city council races.

Calmness has prevailed to date. No opponent bashing, name calling or character assassination plots detected so far, so let’s hope the candidates continue to stick to the issue of representing the rest of us.

Certainly one record will be set here in Patterson, that by 27-year-old Todd McComak. The young man was a candidate for Congress in the spring and now is seeking the office of mayor in the fall. I can’t recall that happening before, and it’s quite a step down in wages from Congress to mayor. However, heading our municipal government might be more prestigious.

Getting it write

Claude Delphia, who died July 2 at age 74, was a sometime columnist for both the Modesto Bee and this newspaper.

So Claude’s writing of his own obituary should not come as a surprise.

Relatives sifting through his papers recently found his obituary copy. It will be read at his memorial service at the Federated Church on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15.

Blow those candles

Light up those candles again.

Patterson resident Helen Maring will observe her 102nd birthday this Sunday, Sept. 9, having been born on that date in 1910. Although Helen is not a native of this community, she has this in common with Patterson: Both were infants in the fall of 1910.

A dumping ground

Late last week, one of Patterson’s Boy Scout troops had a cookout near the boat ramp just north of the Las Palmas bridge over the San Joaquin River.

The small paved acreage for parking and the ramp itself are owned by Stanislaus County.

Unfortunately, trash is everywhere at the site. Even a full garbage sack adds to the litter, along with fast-food bags and just plain raw garbage.

Having no trash bin at the site may add to the mess, and the restrooms are boarded up, but you can place the blame on county government. Vandalism and littering are against the law, but enforcement at such remote places as this is next to impossible.

Someone will come along and clean it up, though. That usually happens and is sadly necessary.

Up at Laird Park near Grayson, another county facility, the grass is coming up after the completion of a project operated gratis by West Side farmers. And what a worthwhile beautification project it was.

Back to school

As promised, class resumes in Fast Talk this week, with the expectation that the educational level of our readers will continue to rise.

Here’s the assignment to ponder for the week ahead, two questions that will be answered in the next Fast Talk.

What does a clock do when it’s hungry?

How does Moses make his tea?

For the sports fan

The Giants hanging in there, the A’s getting exciting, the 49ers looking strong and Patterson High’s three football teams each undefeated with two games under their belts.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

And finally…

More — and hopefully the last — of the paraprosdokians, those sentences with surprise endings.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

I’m reading a book about antigravity and I can’t put it down.

When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

OK, I’ll stop when you stop sending them.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at
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