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THE GAZETTE GIRLS OF GRUNDY COUNTY / Given Hamilton Thogmartin and Aráis Hamilton Anderson "It seems incredible now, more than half a century later, that two young farm-bred girls should buy a country newspaper during the blackest of the 1930s depression days and should survive to look back upon the experience with loving nostalgia. It seems even more incredible that, when country editors throughout the nation were declaring bankruptcy, those two girls would manage to earn their living, keep ahead of the interest on the mortgage, and still enjoy the experience. But buy the paper we did, my sister, Ardis, and I, and although country journalism wasn't at all like fiction and Hollywood had portrayed it, it was just as exciting—and frankly a lot more work and worry."—Gwen "Both of us had wanted to write ever since we started grade school. I got the yen when I was six years old and wrote my first composition about a rabbit we had seen playing in our garden. I don't know when the urge first struck Gwen, but books and reading had been our favorite pastime ever since we learned to read—at the age of four in each case—and English was our best subject in school___ J unis to find out that running a country newspaper requires something more than a knowledge of grammar and syntax or even of writing with originality and zest."—Ardis What Our Paper By Gwen The first problem was to find a paper we could buy with a down payment of $500.00 and a debt of not more than $1,500.00. That would leave us with a few hundred for operating expenses until we "started making a profit." We knew we wanted a Linotype machine, since setting type by hand, as some country newspapers of that era were still doing, would leave us Uttle time to write, interview, and pursue the more interesting phases of newspaper work. Aside from a Linotype, we were vague as to what machinery we would need. Most of our mechanical experience consisted of running a sewing machine—which either of us did with credible skül—or driving a car, which we also did skiUfuUy enough until something went wrong. Then we just caUed the nearest mechanic. Besides, cars were simple in those days. The Missouri Review · 65 No, we didn't know much about printing machinery, I admitted, fingering Ardis's Phi Beta Kappa key with" Pi Lambda Theta and QuUl Club pins attached, but we were intelligent. We had the grade point averages to prove it. We could learn. We did. Oh, brother, how we learned! Some thirty Missouri and Kansas editors answered a dassified ad that we placed in a Sunday issue of the Kansas City Star. The ad read: "Wanted to buy: smaU linotype equipped newspaper. Low down payment; good field for development." The large number of replies should have warned us that editors were none too prosperous, but we inteUigent girls never gave that a thought. We selected the most likely sounding letter and started across eastern Kansas in Nancy, Ardis's 1930 Chevrolet, which we Usted as one of our major assets. In northern Missouri, that evening, we stayed at a cabin camp, the forerunner of a motel, and bright and early the next morning we drove the twelve remaining miles to Spickard. Only it wasn't bright at aU, it was just early, when definitely I am never in quite my best spirits. A heavy rain was falling, and our first impression of the town was negative, to put it mildly. It was situated at the edge of what was known as the upper Ozark range, a series of hills that to our Kansas plains vision looked Uke mountains proper. Every up-and-down street was deeply rutted and running-board deep in mud and water. The paved highway served as the main street, along which most of the business firms were located. Several burned-out buüdings, with their debris of blackened boards and broken bricks, only halfheartedly cleared away, testified to recent fires. The more experienced might have suspected that some of those fires...


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