Community Newspaper

A famous wrong headline

When I was growing up, a weekly high point for our family was finding the Granite Falls Press in our mailbox. We also received the Everett Daily Herald. In pre-television days, the larger daily paper kept us up to date with events in the wider world beyond our valley. But the local Granite Falls paper chronicled life as it happened to us.
A few weeks ago, I wondered if any of those long-ago newspapers were still in existence. The logical place to look would be the Granite Falls Historical Museum, a jewel of an institution built by volunteers. Due to limited staffing, it’s presently open only on Sundays but it’s well worth setting aside an afternoon for a visit. We walked in and asked volunteer and former schoolmate, Ted Lefebre, if by chance the museum had a collection of local newspapers. To my delight, he led us to a wooden crate full of well-preserved papers. He’d just readied them for shipment to SmallTownPapers.Inc., a company that specializes in digitizing community newspapers. They’d already scanned part of the collection, which is now available online at the museum for researchers. These were to be processed next.  As we leafed through them, memories of seldom-remembered friends and neighbors flooded back.

When the weekly paper arrived at my childhood home in the community of Robe, we turned first to the “Robe Valley News.” Correspondents in several different neighborhoods kept readers advised of the comings and goings of people the correspondent was best acquainted with. That meant that we seldom read news about some people; too much about others. Still, we enjoyed skimming the neighborhood columns for glimpses into the lives of those we knew.

Today at, site visitors can search for keywords or names and in seconds find all the mentions of events or people in the collection. When I typed in our surname, Rawlins, I was delighted to find bits and pieces of our family history spanning several decades, starting with my father’s 1939 For Sale ad in a version of the local paper then called The Snohomish County Forum. He offered 1000 27-inch straight split shakes and a nearly new one-and-one-half volt battery radio. That was before Daddy was a logger. He’d come from the North Dakota farm only three years earlier. Now he was splitting shakes for sale, making a living any way he could.

The war years in the early 1940s changed people’s lives. Browsing through those papers brought it alive. Like towns across the country, Granite Falls had to find ways to fill in for essential personnel, such as teachers and business people who were called off to war. Everyone participated in the “war effort.” The community held scrap drives to recycle metal, paper, and even cloth for defense purposes. Shortages of gasoline and rubber tires affected even the school sports programs. Teams were limited to intramural contests because districts cut out extra bus trips. A two-mile walk to school was considered “the best possible form of exercise” as busses were reserved for farther-flung students. Granite Falls couldn’t find a principal for the elementary school in 1942, so a woman teacher was assigned to do that work until at long last, a qualified principal was found. Being an informed, intelligent citizen was touted as a duty and a privilege.

Over the years, family events mentioned in the paper included birthday celebrations, visiting relatives, and the Easter in 1948 when the correspondent wrote that the Delbert Rawlins car recently rolled over with the family in it. “No one was hurt,” she wrote, “but the car was.” Later on, the paper mentioned my brothers’ overseas stints with the army between the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and then the births of my parents’ first grandchildren.

Announcements in the paper brought back memories of occasional Friday nights at the movies with the whole family. Granite Falls had no movie theater but for a small charge, we could sit in the bleachers at the high-school gymnasium to take in the weekly movies. We’d probably call them “B” movies today. The plots were sometimes corny, the sound scratchy, and of course, the pictures were in black and white. A cartoon and a newsreel accompanied the main feature.

Sometimes the newspaper’s language seemed flowery, the ideas propounded naive. But reading those old papers does not leave the reader depressed and discouraged as some of today’s newspapers can. We need more of the optimistic, we-can-do-it-together spirit expressed back then in today’s world.

And I appreciate past writers’ commitments to reporting the news without slant. This doesn’t mean opinion wasn’t injected into some of the stories, but it wasn’t cleverly disguised. If someone wanted to sway our thinking, they were forthright about it.

You can see for yourself by going to the Granite Falls museum Web site at Click on the line at the top of the page about searching old newspapers. That takes you to an article by webmaster Mary Deaton that explains how to do a search. Click on the link she gives to go directly to the archives.

Fred Cruger, director of things technological at the museum, explains, “In the future, we may make that link part of a ‘members only’ page (which would result in users having to pay our annual dues of $10 per year to have online access).” Meanwhile, it’s free and will continue to be free to those who physically come to the museum to do research.

A Prayer for Our Country

Courtesy of PD

One way we can honor those who sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to give us the freedoms we enjoy in the United States of America is by invoking God’s help for ourselves and those who endeavor to lead our nation today. We prayed this prayer in church yesterday. It was written by Brett Johnson, our minister of music.
The Lord’s Prayer for Our Nation  – © July 2011

People: Our Father, who art in heaven,

Leader: How high are your ways above our ways. We pray today that the earthly ways of our nation would be informed by your heavenly ways.

People: Hallowed be Thy name.

Leader: May you be honored in the decisions made by our national leaders and by the manner in which those decisions are made. Instead of a posture of arrogance that can come with the drug of absolute power, may our country’s leadership reflect a posture of humility before you, aware of the awesome responsibility you have entrusted to them.

People: Thy Kingdom come.

Leader: May the designs and plans of our earthly republic mirror those of your divine Kingdom. May our cultural values become the values of your Kingdom, our collective desires, the desires of your heart.

People: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Leader: May our leaders, even unknowingly, accomplish your will in the difficult decisions they make.

People: Give us this day our daily bread.

Leader: We are so grateful for how you have so generously blessed our nation with prosperity. But these are hard economic times for so many in our nation. We do pray that you would use hardship to draw people to you, and as an opportunity for your Body, the Church, to be your hands and feet of justice and compassion to its neighbors within this great land.

At the same time, we recognize that even in our hardest economic climate we are among the most prosperous and wealthiest people on earth. Even in our lean years, give us deep generosity for the true poor of our world and an accurate perspective of relative wealth.

People: Forgive us our debts.

Leader: Forgive us for how easily we turn away from those who are truly destitute across the earth, those whom you called us to care for. Forgive us for how easily we turn to materialism and greed to feed our spiritual hunger. Forgive us for the many systemic sins which plague our culture, from a self-obsessed financial system to a lust- and- violence-fueled entertainment industry.

People: Forgive us as we forgive our debtors.

Leader: Make us a compassionate nation which is working to accomplish good things in individual lives, cultures and national futures all around this globe. Make us a nation less feared for its military might than honored and respected for its humanitarian investment.

People: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Leader: Guard our leaders from the corruption that power can bring to the human heart. Make them men and women of integrity who are able to rise above the petty battles of vengeance and blind political loyalty that our system of government can make them prone to face.

Make them people of depth and purpose who desire your will for their own lives and for the country that you have called them to lead.

All Together: On behalf of our nation, we pray all these things to you, for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.