Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By John Davis

Remembering June 1, 1956


September 12, 2017

I’ve mentioned in earlier columns that I delivered the Northern Wyoming Daily News for four years. That period began on June 1, 1956 (when I was 12 and headed into the eighth grade) and ended on June 1, 1960.

For some reason I recently started thinking about June 1, 1956, and trying to remember how things were different back then. Then I realized that the best record of that difference was the paper I delivered the morning of the initial day of June, 1956. So, I went to the local library and reviewed in detail the microfilm version of the paper I first carried that early June morning 61 years ago.

The Daily News printed several articles about politics, some about issues similar to those today and others quite different. 1956 was an election year and the Republican and Democrat candidates were gearing up for the campaign. President Eisenhower (“Ike”) pledged a vigorous campaign, although he’d just had a heart attack, and Drew Pearson in his “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column was critical of Stevenson. That was standard political fare, but there were also indications that the “red scare” of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, a political aberration, still had some life. The biggest headline in the paper was about a Minnesota congressman who charged that there were “lower echelon pro-communists” working for the State and Defense departments. Congressman Walter Judd acknowledged that these people weren’t communists, but said communism appealed to them and they influenced the “men at the top.”

I noted two stories that might be classified under the category of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” One spoke of how the Senate was poised to crack down on the use of heroin, including providing the death sentence for “hardened offenders.” Another stated that Russia (USSR) would help bring peace to Palestine. How did that work out?

The 1956 paper was much more folksy than current papers. The Daily News ran several columns of local interest, telling people of the social news in an area. Local correspondents submitted pieces from Thermopolis, West Emblem, Meeteetse and Bonanza, telling about things such as people visiting neighbors, the daughter of a resident going to Cody for a job, and folks having dinner guests. There was a fairly extensive article filled with such items from the City of Worland. And the paper printed a long article with a big headline saying “FOUR BHB MEN ARE ENLISTED IN NAVY.” The newspaper also carried a column about Greybull Hospital Notes.

The Daily News ran many features similar to today’s newspaper, including legal notices, classified want ads, a daily weather forecast, a crossword puzzle, and several pieces known then as “the funnies.” Some we still have, such as “Blondie” and “Gasoline Alley,” but others are long gone, including “Little Orphan Annie,” “Freckles and his Friends,” and “Dick Tracy.”

By far the biggest and most frequently encountered ads were from local grocers. Washakie Trading Company carried a big ad, as did Foodland, and the ads of A & R Super Market (12th & Charles), and Van’s Food Market each covered a full page – a lot of print in a newspaper of only 16 pages.

Sports were covered, of course, and the most obvious difference was the focus on baseball. There were stories about Major League Baseball, University of Wyoming baseball, Worland Indians baseball (our local semipro team), and Little League baseball. The only significant coverage not relating to baseball was a story about the Indianapolis 500 auto race. We forget that not so long ago baseball was the king of all American sports.

All in all, the June 1, 1956 Daily News showed quite a different world from what we know today.

P. S. After my column about Worland blacksmiths came out, I got two calls providing more information about our early blacksmiths.

Dan Cook phoned and said that he had John Wessel’s anvil stand, hand forged around a big cottonwood stump, and he made an end table out of it. Sam Hampton also called, mentioning Henry “Hank” Vontz, an old-time blacksmith associated with Emmett McGarvin, who had a shop in northwest Worland. I found a reference to Mr. Vontz in Ray Pendergraft’s history of Washakie County, and it confirmed that he was an active Worland blacksmith at least into the 1940s.

I appreciate these kinds of calls from readers. Call me at 347-4560 if you have any comments.

John Davis was raised in Worland, graduating from W. H. S. in 1961. John began practicing law here in 1973 and is retired. He is the author of several books.


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