"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My newspaper died--I

I had the "stuffing" knocked out of me.
Our last issue--address label to our son Vance, a student at Lubbock Christian
So much so that it's taken me this long to overcome avoiding writing about it.
I'm still recovering, as a matter of fact, after learning of the death of "my" paper, the Waurika News-Democrat at the first of this month.
I was surprised that after all these years--29 to the month after we sold it--I was so raw for my 12 years there.
John Dunn's poetry comes to mind: "No man is an island…any man's death diminishes
me." Any newspaper's death does the same.   I am always sad when a newspaper fails, and I know what a paper means to a town. But this made it very personal.

Clark, with the Don Morrison School of Journalism
The notes and thoughts have been piling up, and it's helped that I wrote a little about it in The Oklahoma Publisher this month. And now  folks in Waurika have started a new newspaper, The Waurika News Journal. It's backed by people I have know a long time, and the editor, Curtis Plant, graduated with my son Travis.
Curtis asked me to write a monthly column for them, and so I put one together, named "Coffee with Clark," from this blog, and  the descendant of my long ago column "Trail  Talk." It appeared this week, 29 years after I quit writing the other one.
That got me started, breaking the logjam of emotions and thoughts. I've also heard from old newspaper friends like Ray Lokey in Tishomingo, Gloria Trotter at Tecumseh,  Ken Chaffin of Healdton and Barbara Walter at Hennessey, Nell Largent of Waurika and others. A weekly newspaper guy in Minnesota wrote about it, and changing my old opinion about broadcast news, the old and new paper even made the television evening news twice on KSWO.
So my excuses are past, the roadblock has been removed.
I go back to Waurika every Mother's Day and plant flowers at Mom's grave, and then drive down those red brick streets, past the old paper office, through the neighborhoods, remembering raising a family there. It can be depressing, as the town has dwindled some. More telling are all the names I know on gravestones in the cemetery.

We gave these away as subscription promotions. 

Still, I want to share some of those memories...they are so much a part of who I am. In fact, those dozen years in Waurika may have been more formative in my life than any since, including raising four wonderful children. That's where I graduated from the Don Morrison school of journalism. Waurika is the closest I have to a home town, having grown up in a city.
Those thoughts and images are brewing in my coffee pot and in future posts. Ironically, when talking about this blog--billed above as an old-fashioned newspaper column, a good friend said to me once, "You've got your newspaper back."
Lots of stories to come--backshops, cut and paste, darkrooms, selling advertising, and more--a salute to the Waurika News-Democrat, the town's oldest business.


  1. Thank you for the journey there and back. I believe we share the same stance on "Any newspaper's death does the same." Yet, just as we have always done, we'll just keep going forward. Thanks again.

  2. Love this post. Had to share with the fellow Waurika native I was telling you about in class.


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