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More Quirky Newspaper Names, from eBook Readers:


By Eric  Shackle

Kentucky attorney, author and songwriter Natty Bumppo, who was once a newspaperman named John Dean, enjoys reading his local weekly, called The Gimlet. He contends that when it comes to quirky newspaper names, it's in the same class as De Queen Bee (Arkansas) and The Unterrified Democrat (Missouri), featured in our last issue.

Co-publishers and owners of the Edmonson News, Bill and Cathy Canty, say their paper has been nicknamed The Gimlet  ever since 1927 because the editorials of founding editor Perry Meloan were said to have punch, and bored in. [A gimlet is a small wood-boring tool.]  The name is printed on the top line of the masthead (left) which reads THE GIMLET - "IT BORES IN."

Natty Bumppo's intriguing website reveals that John Dean (born 1940), was a reporter on the Terre Haute Star, 1960; Associated Press, 1962-1963; Indianapolis Star, 1963-1967 ("first beard in city room, 1967"); Detroit News, 1969, and a copy editor on the Indianapolis Star, 1967; Chicago Sun-Times, 1967-1968,1969-1974; San Francisco Examiner, 1968; Detroit Free Press, 1969.

He worked as a bartender at the Golden Horse Shoe saloon, Oakland, California, in 1968, a Candygram delivery man for Western Union, San Francisco, on Valentine''s Day, 1969, and a mail order minister of the Universal Life Church (bonded to perform marriages) in 1974.

Seeking a new career, he studied law. Shortly after graduating, he was embarrassed by the nationwide notoriety of another lawyer named John Dean, who figured in the Watergate presidential scandal. In desperation, he changed his name to Nathaniel John Balthazar Bumppo, and has relished using it ever since.

Where did he find that marvelous monicker?  He says he discovered it in a reference to one of novelist James Fenimore Cooper's native American characters, in Garry Wills' book Nixon Agonistes. Bumppo Mark 2, who says he's been married five times but divorced only four, wrote a hilarious article 'Why I'd Rather Be Natty Bumppo than John Dean (Wouldn't Everybody?),'  published by Esquire magazine in June 1975.

The attorney lists as "representative clients" Playboy model Lisa Hammond, murder accusée Delores Hayes (featured in television show 'On Trial'), and Computerland (Bowling Green, Ky.).

Bowling Green (population about 50,000) is the fourth largest city in Kentucky, and home of Western Kentucky University, Union Underwear, and Chevrolet's Corvette plant, says Natty, adding: "The name of Bowling Green's newspaper is the Daily News. But it's not the Bowling Green Daily News.  It's the Park City Daily News. You'll find the explanation on the Daily News' HISTORY webpage".

Apart from Natty Bumppo, many others who read last month's article, U.S. Newspapers' Eccentric Names, have kindly nominated their favorite titles. Here's a selection of their emails:

From: Seth Lipsky
nice piece. check out the anniston (alabama) star, whose full name is the star and hot blast, owing to the fact that anniston was an iron or steel smelting town.
[What a great name for a crusading newspaper! Sadly, the Anniston Star seems to have dropped the subtitle altogether on its website.]

From: saisunee vongchanyakul 
Just finished reading your article on newspapers' names. It is a very interesting and fun article to read. I'm a subscriber to AWAD and on this week's AWADmail Isuse 54, saw your comment and the hyperlink to the article. Thanks for doing this piece. I truly enjoyed it.

From: Caroline Seydel
I enjoyed reading this article, and I thought I'd add to your collection of colorful names. Our local paper (in the Beach Cities area of Los Angeles) is called The Daily Breeze. It's not quite as good as the De Queen Bee, but it's not the Times, either.

From: Mary Kitchel
Ouch! Please change the phrase "Oakie from Muskogee" to the correct spelling of Okie ...O-K-I-E. Don't think of OAK when you think of OKLAHOMA. (Or, as a long-vanished gov. had it on the license plates....Oklahoma is unpopular phrase, as it conjured up blandness and unenthusiastic acceptance of our wonderful state. Just south of us they use "Don't mess with Texas" --- all we could come up with is....just OK.
Folks from Oklahoma are not exactly crazy about the "Okie" label. My mother was a young woman during the Dust Bowl days in one of the most depressed and dusty areas in the USA, the Oklahoma Panhandle.
I read THE GRAPES OF WRATH when I was about 13, and said "Mama, we're Okies, aren't we." She bristled up, looked me straight in the eye, and said,"We are NOT Okies. Nobody here is an Okie. The Okies left and went where the land was good and they could work. We toughed it out and stayed put. Don't you EVER refer to me or  to anybody who lived here through the 30's as an Okie."  
Another governor, Dewey Bartlett, lost a re-election campaign, largely due to his bright idea of putting out campaign buttons saying "I'M AN OKIE FOR BARTLETT." Even his own party didn't want to wear that label! - Mary Kitchel, Portland, Oregon (transplanted from the Queen City of the Panhandle...Guymon, Oklahoma).

From: Peter Aretin
I enjoyed your page on wacky newspaper names. You might want to mention the Clarion (PA) Call. [a newspaper published by Clarion University, in Clarion, Pennsylvania. Thirty miles  northwest of Clarion is Oil City, where the local paper is named The Derrick.] The paper published in the ironically-named Nederland (elevation 8,250 feet) at the top of Boulder Canyon NH is The Mountain Ear.

From Sullivan, David
wonderful site. i once wrote an article for editor and publisher about the need for newspapers to keep their odd names. they can provide a sense of community. among others i love:
the logansport pharos-tribune
(referring to the lighthouse);
the daily gate city in keokuk, iowa; [Keokuk was once described as "the wickedest place in the U.S."]
the canton repository in ohio;
[From the Canton Repository website: "Who are your readers? About 70 percent are local residents and an equal number of these also subscribe to our paper edition. The rest are flung all over the world. We're proud to provide a hometown link to the many retirees who moved to Florida and Arizona. We have readers as far away as Pakistan and China, including a number in our Armed Forces and in college."]
foster's daily democrat in dover, new hampshire, the only paper named after a family.
alas, publishers are doing away with their names in an effort to create "brands" and respectability -- thus no more playground daily news in fort walton beach, fla., or herald-telephone in bloomington, ind.
there is a weekly outside detroit called the spinal column. one of its founders was a chiropractor. [See story below.]

From: Carol Wex
Crescent City, CA, has The Triplicate -- I don't know why. Redding, CA, has The Record-Searchlight, which was often called "The Wretched Flashlight".

In South Fork, Colorado ( located in the SW part of the State) you will find a newspaper named The South Fork Tines -- a nice play on words, don't you think?

From: Derek Harper a journalist in Manahawkin, New Jersey
I enjoyed the listing of bizarre American newspaper names. I used to live in Newark, Delaware, where right over the Maryland border in Cecil County is a paper called The Cecil Whig. The Whigs collapsed in this country right around the time of the civil war when the Republicans formed. That there is still a paper named for them now, I find astounding. A holdover from an earlier era, apparently.

[The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language says that Whig was the name of a 19th-century American political party formed to oppose the Democratic Party and favoring high tariffs and a loose interpretation of the Constitution. The word (more familiar in Britain) was probably short for Whiggamore, a member of a body of 17th-century Scottish Presbyterian rebels.]

Here are a few more great titles discovered last month:

THE SPINAL COLUMN, Waterford, Michigan. About 40 years ago, when the newspaper was being launched, the two owners sought financial support from friends. In exchange, financial backers were invited to place a suggested name in a hat from which the new publication's name would be drawn. One of the backers, a chiropractor, put the name Spinal Column in the hat. The rest is history.

Recounting this story, associate publisher David Hohendorf said "Back in the late 1970s we looked at possibly changing the name, but it has such high reader identity in our local area where we distribute 50,000 copies weekly that we decided against eliminating the name. Instead, we added Newsweekly to the trademark and now are known as the Spinal Column Newsweekly."

HOBBS FLARE, Hobbs, New Mexico. Agnes Kastner Head founded The Flare in 1948 after a dispute with the Hobbs News-Sun, whose publisher had refused to run advertising for Mrs. Head's husband when he was running for mayor.
(Thanks no doubt to support from Hobbs Flare,
Mr Head was elected to become Hobbs' mayor).

The Flare was named not because of the political flare-up, or of Mrs Head's flair for publicity, but in memory of a Phillips Petroleum gas flare that Mrs. Head said had guided her to Hobbs one evening several years earlier. After several changes of ownership and mergers, The Flare seems to have gone out for ever.

Blossom Times of Blossom, Texas.

Clinton Topper, Clinton, Wisconsin.

Mount Vernon Herald-Optic, Mount Vernon, Texas.

The East Greenwich Pendulum, Rhode Island.

The Cats' Pause, Lexington, Kentucky.

The Tiller and Toiler, Larned, Kansas.

The South Pittsburg Hustler

The Lawrence Locomotive, Nebraska.

The Gringo and Greaser, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1883/4).

The Yadkin Ripple, Yadkinville, North Carolina.

The Murdo Coyote, Murdo, South Dakota.

The Alpine Avalanche, Alpine, Texas.

Last month, we selected The Unterrified Democrat of Linn, Missouri, as one of the strangest newspaper names in the United States. To prove our political impartiality, we now nominate another worthy contender for that title: The Republican-Rustler, of Basin, Wyoming.

Copyright © 2001   Eric Shackle  Story first posted December 2001

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