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Column: Premiere issue presents window on county’s past


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When the first issue of The Daily Journal rolled off the presses on July 22, 1963, the top story, not surprisingly, was the announcement of the first issue of the paper.

The headline proclaimed: Hello Johnson county — the Journal is rolling.

The story went on to highlight the mission of the paper and the two years of planning and work that it took to get the operation started.

Gov. Matt Welsh sent a letter of congratulations, which was printed in that first issue; and Lt. Gov. Richard O. Ristine was the honorary press starter for that first issue.

But rereading those pages a half-century later is like opening a time capsule on county history.

Many things have changed in that time.

For instance, the population has more than tripled from 46,000 to more than 143,000.

But many things have remained the same. For example, a front-page photo in that first issue showed members of the Edinburg Happy Clovers 4-H Club preparing for the Johnson County fair at the home of Orval Johnson.

The girls in the photo, who were not identified, are old enough today to be grandparents or perhaps even great-grandparents.

The article quoted fair organizers predicting 2,600 exhibits from 1,000 4-H members. That’s no different from today. The story also mentioned the pet parade as a crowd favorite, which remains a favorite a half-century later.

Listed as the superintendent of the beef competition was Max Fitzpatrick, who remains a fixture at the fair.

A Page 1 story reported a burglary at Brown’s Regal Market in Franklin. A safe was opened, and cash was taken.

The building that housed Brown’s burned down in 1996. It once was the city hall and had an opera house on the upper floor.

The ads, too, are like a time capsule. Some businesses — like Culligan water conditioning, Tearman Motel and Mutual Building and Loan — are still with us; while others, such as Ingle Rambler of Franklin, Dog ’n’ Suds of Greenwood and Swank apparel in Franklin, speak to an earlier time.

The comic strips also have changed. A half-century ago you’d have read about the antics of “Popeye” and “Penny”” and the adventures of “Mark Trail” and “Johnny Hazard.”

The names are as strange to many of us today as “Garfield” and “Dilbert” would have been to 1963 readers.

The only wedding in the paper that day was for Deanna Jo Knight and Tom H. Smith Jr. at Edinburg Methodist Church. Performing the ceremony was the Rev. B.J. Renner. Miss Linda Rubush was maid of honor, and Richard Hattabaugh of New Whiteland was best man.

A small item on page 14 noted that Franklin basketball coach and athletic director Ted Server was recovering from an injury sustained in a softball game.

He was trying to stretch a double into a triple when he collided with the third baseman. The fielder was not injured, but Server suffered a fractured cheek and minor concussion.

The article didn’t say if Server was safe at third.

Rich Gotshall is chief copy editor at the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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