Tom Blount: Oh, what a joyous time that was

Dec. 30, 2012 @ 02:34 AM

Winding up my review of 2012 — for presentations I’ll be making over the next three weeks, I came across the “preserved” copy of a Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph from Aug. 14, 1945.
Vince Wheeler, assistant editor of The High Point Enterprise, gave me that paper when I retired as Enterprise editor in March. What a gift! I had carried for delivery on my newspaper route 28 copies of the Sun-Tele that summer 1945 day, along with 87 copies of my-then-hometown (Beaver Falls, Pa.) newspaper, The News-Tribune. Both papers sold for 4 cents a day. I covered sports for TNT during my four years in college (1953-57) and served, first as reporter/special projects editor, then as editor for a dozen years (1966-1978).
The Sun-Tele (Hearst) was one of four newspapers in Pittsburgh in 1945 — with the Post-Gazette (Block), Press (Scripps Howard) and Courier (which became the largest, most influential black newspaper in the nation (circulation of 250,000 and over 400 employees in 14 cities). Reading through that Sun-Tele edition rekindled many memories for me, as I’m sure it will for today’s Enterprise readers who were alive at that time.
“WORLD AT PEACE,” read the 2-inch high letters in red ink.
There were 21 end-of-war-related stories and a large photo of a cruiser on the front page that day with a headline reading “Truman Orders Swift Start in Postwar Work” atop the lead story in the upper right corner. A message in a 1-column x 2½-inch box in the lower right corner read, “All Stores Closed Today.” At that time, almost every headline word began with a capital letter.
The pages in that edition were 16¾ wide and 23¼ inches long with a 155⁄8 inches x 22¼ printing surface. Opened to the center spread, the paper was nearly three feet wide.
Because of the page numbering system the Sun-Tele used, it’s difficult, 67 years later, to determine if some pages are missing from that Aug. 15, 1945, edition. But the pages that are there tell interesting stories and show how, especially in those days — when television was in infancy, how thoroughly newspapers covered the news of the day.
Here’s a sampling of what was in that edition:
Page 2 — 20 stories (including two 24 inches long) and a large  photo about the war and surrender.
Page 3 — Eight stories (including  one 48 inches long — “Gov. J. Edward Martin Proclaims 2 Days of Rejoicing and Prayer — and another 18 inches long), two really large photos.
On other pages:
• 15 stories, 2 photos
• [Daily Pictorial Review] three  large celebration photos including soldiers kissing girls.
• Headlined “The Secrets of Santo Thomas, fourth in a series on “brutal execution of three British enternees (sic)” and torture in an internment camp in Manila.
• Six-photo package headlined “Radar Mystery Comes to Light.”
• SPORTS – columns by sports editor Harry Keck (boxing), Chilly Doyle (Major League Baseball) and Dan McGlibney Jr. (scholastic) and the Pirates defeating the Boston Braves 7-5 were the major items.
• CLASSIFIED – all three-liner ads in type as small or smaller than that in today’s Scoreboard.
• 12 comics on one page, 9 on the facing page along with crossword, horoscope and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. [Blondie and Snuffy Smith are the only comics from those pages still being published today by the Enterprise.]
• More photos including a half-page shot of President Truman announcing end of war.
• Local news – 19 stories, 2 photos.
• Editorial page with “Victory in the Pacific” as the lead editorial. The op-ed page contained seven columnists and five cartoons.
• The back page carried news for women and Hearst’s Louella Parsons’ Hollywood gossip column. Top movies that day were “Ziegfeld Follies,” “Back to Bataan” and “Crime, Inc.”
Thanks, Vince!

Tom Blount retired as Enterprise editor in the spring.