One-time editor faced postwar financial dilemma
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Apr 11, 2013 | 898 views | 0 0 comments | 102 102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
Ron Swift
Newspaper people are always getting picked on.

No, I haven’t been picked on recently — but here’s a tale of what did happen nearly 70 years ago.

Just before World War II ended, former Patterson Irrigator Editor Elwyn Hoffman was mired in a predicament. He had patriotically purchased too many war bonds.

Hoffman came here and founded this newspaper in 1911. For health reasons, he sold it seven years later, moved to Middleton near Napa and homesteaded a parcel of property four miles out of town, where he built a two-room cabin and lived by himself.

After his newspaper days, Hoffman became a rural mail carrier in Middleton and thus earned a small pension upon his retirement. It amounted to $47 a month. He had also purchased $800 worth of war bonds in increments of $25 each since the start of the war.

But the law at the time limited pension recipients to owning a bond total of only $600. Hoffman was forced to decide between returning $200 worth of bonds or forfeiting his pension and paying back $752 he had received since exceeding the $600 bond limit.

The San Francisco papers reported his dilemma. The Irrigator then picked up the story, quoting Hoffman as saying, “I bought the bonds by putting patch upon patch upon my clothes, going without a lot of things I wanted to buy, and sacrificing the way our government told us we’d have to sacrifice to win.

“I could have spent the money on liquor or in a card game and it would have been all right. But I got too many war bonds,” Hoffman lamented.

Gov. Earl Warren promised to look into the matter, but the final solution wasn’t reported.

Getting tired

When you get to be my age, and I may also be speaking for others here, many things make me tired.

I get tired of solicitation calls during the evening meal.

I get tired of having friends depart, going to funerals and stocking up on sympathy cards.

I get tired of two times of the day being the most important — taking my pills in the morning and again in the evening.

I get tired of misplacing things.

I get tired of my belt shrinking.

I get tired of the grass growing so fast.

I occasionally — but not always — get tired of the deadline rolling around for this column.

I get — zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

From the mailbag

Hey Swifty: How come we don’t read much these days about HM (Housemate) or even your buddy Bob “Spokie” Kimball? Are these two still with us? — ’Quirin’

Dear Q: Yes, both are very much with us. I occasionally run into HM around the house, but during the spring she’s usually outside gardening while I’m inside hiding out. Besides, I get the distinct impression she dislikes reading her name in Fast Talk.

As for The Spoke, he too is out enjoying the spring weather, but on his two-wheeler, putting the rest of us to shame. He’s logged so many miles in the past 23 years that he’s worn out a calculator. Maybe two.

But, I have to give the guy credit — grudgingly. Last year, while cycling over on the coast, he messed up his face big time when he got in the way of a condor or an eagle or maybe a seagull, depending on the story.

The bird didn’t fare well, either. And Bob is now on the “10 Most Wanted” list of the Audubon Society.

You don’t want to mess with birds.

In mourning

Members of the Knights of the Square Table are mourning the loss of Allister Allen, who died early Wednesday, April 10. Allister was the last “charter” member of the local coffee group, who attended the morning sessions since its beginning in 1984 until the first of this year. Rites are pending.

More learnin’

Well, not much more. Our educational offerings are curtailed this week. A substitute teacher has not assigned homework.

For the sports fan

Who among local basketball fans would have expected the Drury Panthers to beat the Metro State Roadrunners for the NCAA Division II title — a game to which all fans were allowed free admission? Certainly not me.

And finally…

I was asked just the other day what I enjoy about serving as curator of our downtown museum.

My answer was simple: I enjoy watching the town go ’round and ’round.

Have a nice quiet weekend, aided by some of Patterson’s Boy Scouts being off camping.

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

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