The morning — and evening — newspaper was an important part of our day – Bluefield Daily Telegraph

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph arrived bright and early each morning at our small family home in McDowell County. I believe the newspaper was normally in the paper box at the bottom of the road around 6:30 a.m. each day. Our paper carrier was very reliable. Actually, I don’t remember him ever missing a day of delivery.

Different people would pick the newspaper up in the morning. Sometimes it was Mom, sometimes it was Uncle Raymond and sometimes I would, but not all that often. That’s because my first priority each morning was making it to the bottom of the road before the school bus arrived.

I don’t know what the protocol was back in the day when it came to waiting on students who were late getting to their designated bus stop area, but the school bus driver didn’t spend a lot of time waiting on tardy kids. He would normally blow the horn, and wait an extra minute or two before leaving. Thankfully I don’t recall ever actually missing the school bus, although there were a couple of close calls.

So on school days there was — unfortunately — little time to read the morning newspaper. That was Mom’s job. The lone exception to that rule was the weekends, when I could take a glimpse at the newspaper without fear of being late for the school bus. Reading the newspaper each morning was a tradition in our family, and the same could be said for the evening newspaper.

By the time the evening newspaper arrived I was already home from school. So I was normally the person who made the short walk down the small gravel road to retrieve it from the second paperbox. In McDowell County, the evening paper was the Welch Daily News. Back in the day, the Welch paper was a daily publication. It no longer is today. Our family subscribed to both newspapers. And the same could be said for just about everyone else in our then close-knit community.

In addition to my aunt, uncles and cousins, our neighbors living in the O’Toole community were loyal readers of both the morning and evening newspapers. It was just what we did. My interest in the Welch paper was limited to one item — the daily Dick Tracy cartoon strip. I guess it was a guy thing, I don’t know. But I just had to read the Dick Tracy cartoon each evening. It wasn’t until years later that I gained a better appreciation for more traditional cartoons found in the Bluefield paper, including Garfield, Frank and Earnest, the Born Loser and Blondie, among others.

Staying on top of the news was important for our family. Living in the small town of Anawalt, we were somewhat isolated. The big city of Bluefield was a good hour away, and even a trip to the equally big city of Welch was a 30 minute drive. You also never knew when you would be stopped by a train before even getting out of town at the railroad crossing in Anawalt.

I’m glad we read the newspaper — both newspapers for that matter — each and every day. It was important to follow the local news, as well as the national headlines. 

I guess in many ways the newspaper has always been a part of my life. A few years later I got involved in the high school newspaper (as a cartoonist none the less) and then later the college newspaper where I dabbled in everything from reporting to pagination.

From there it was only natural to make an employment transition to the hometown newspaper that we loyally subscribed to and faithfully read each and every morning. 

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline. Follow him @bdtowens







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