Golden 50 — 1999

1999 Recipients

120th Summer Convention, Friday, June 18, 1999, Moody Gardens Hotel. Galveston

Sarah Greene, Gilmer Mirror
Donald Sloan, San Saba Star
Joyce Atkins Latcham, Beeville Bee-Picayune
H.V. O'Brien, Eastland Telegram
Ted Rogers, Cisco Press
James H. Winter, The Bowie News
W.H. "Bill" Ellman, Tri County Leader, Whitehouse


Sarah Greene received her bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin in May 1949 and went to work as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News in June. So that began her formal association with the newspaper business.

Her newspaper career actually started more than a decade earlier, however, when she had her first jobs at the family newspaper, The Gilmer Mirror, then a daily.

"Most subscribers paid by the month and I walked from door-to-door collecting a 10 percent commission. When the occasional subscriber forked over $5 for a year I got an early taste of how slot machine players feel on hitting a jackpot," Greene said. She also recalls the excitement of being her father's "runner" with election returns from courthouse to newspaper office when he reported Democratic primary results ("tantamount to election," newspapers always noted then) to the Texas Election Bureau. Learning to do "single wrap" in the mail room, and failing to persuade her father to teach her the Linotype machine are other memories.

During World War II, when the absence of advertising lead to cutting back The Mirror from a daily to weekly publication, the staff dwindled down to a basic two -her parents, Russell and Georgia Laschinger. These were Sarah's high school years and she remembers telling her mother that she would never go into the newspaper business for she never meant to work that hard.

She went to Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., for two years. It was not until her junior year at UT that she capitulated into the journalism news sequence. She recalls volunteer work on the Daily Texan, late night trips to the campus press as news editor to put the paper to bed and reporting experiences that proved invaluable when she hit. the job market.

Greene moved to Fort Worth in 1952 after her marriage to UT classmate Ray H. Greene, then a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter. That ended her daily career. So it was a pleasant surprise in 1996 when the Association for Women Journalists, at a banquet in Dallas, honored her and 89 other "trailblazers" with a "Woman of Courage" award for showing "leadership, tenacity and integrity in working to improve conditions for women both in and out of the profession."'

In 1953 Sarah and Ray accepted her parents' invitation to join The Mirror, as they themselves had done in 1923 when invited by Georgia's-father, George Tucker, who bought the weekly newspaper in 1915 and took it daily.

While the Greene children, Sally and Russ, were small she worked mostly as a reporter, feature writer and proof reader, gradually taking on more duties as they grew up. She became co-publisher after the death of her father in 1974, and remains active as publisher today.

Representing the fourth generation, her son, Russ, now shares duties on the news and business side; daughter, Sally, is vice resident of the family corporation and sends in a regular column by email. She lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., with her husband, Paul Jones, and son, Tucker, 6.

"I appreciate. that the community newspaper business has given me the opportunity to be where the action is, and to promote my town and county," Greene said. She has served on numerous boards, been president of the Upshur County Chamber of Commerce and has various awards on her office wall, a side effect which, she says, goes with the territory. Since 1971 she has been a director of Gilmer National Bank.

Milestones have been The Mirror's conversion to semiweekly in 1983, and publishing on the Internet this year.

Greene is proud to be a founding director of the Historic Upshur Museum and the Upshur County Arts Council, which provides a performing arts season at the new Upshur County Civic Center another project close to the publisher's heart.

Since The Mirror is the oldest business institution in Upshur County, Greene has naturally had an interest in local history and folklore. She has presented papers for the Texas Folklore Society, of which she served as president in 1985, the Texas State Historical Association and the East Texas Historical Association.

Greene attended her first Texas Press Association convention in 1949, when she met her parents in Galveston. Dinner at the Balinese Room, reached by walking through a casino, was her most lasting memory. But before another decade had passed, she had learned how essential the association would be in keeping her abreast of our unique industry.

Regular attendance at the North and East Texas Press Association conventions lead to her being a director and, in 1986, president. She served on the board and the ladder of offices before becoming TPA president in 1986. She was the TPA representative to the National Newspaper Association for three years, ending with the 1997 Fort Worth convention when Roy Eaton was NNA president.

"Working with Lyndell Williams and the friendly, efficient staff made all the jobs a pleasure," she said.

Many of her most cherished friendships also were formed in the three associations. Committee meetings, conventions and conferences have given her the chance to travel to interesting destinations in Texas and beyond. Many times she uses the excuse to detour by North Carolina, home of her only grandchild:

"Looking back on full, interesting years, I don't find writing a news story much easier than it was 50 years ago. But I have developed an unerring eye for which envelopes contain checks and which are junk mail," Greene said.

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On April 1, 1949, Donald Sloan began work as a printer's devil at the San Saba Star The job required sweeping, washing windows, cleaning up metal shavings under the Linotype and melting lead into pigs to be used over again the following week.

In those days, Sloan said, he and his peers worked for very little to have the privilege of being associated with a newspaper. After school on Wednesdays, he said they would work all night to print the paper on a hand-sheet fed Cranston press, four pages at a time.

After the paper was printed it was hand-fed through a folder. The circulation list was placed on a galley consisting of Linotype slugs and hand inked with a roller and each paper had the subscriber's named placed on it.

"Back then the paper was bundled in alphabetical order and next day delivery by the post office. No problems with the Postal Service back then," Sloan said.

The backbone of the newspaper at the time was the Linotype operator. He said it took years to manage to operate this 96-key machine.

In those days we were very dedicated to our work. There was no competition because you had to know the trade and it usually took about 10 years to acquire the knowledge.

"Today, a kid can start a newspaper overnight with a computer and call it total market coverage," Sloan said.

Tramp printers were very common in those days, moving from town to town, only working long enough to buy something to drink and then move on, he remembered.

Sloan finally advanced into hand-setting type, feeding a job press and Linotype machinist. He was called on by neighboring towns to assist when a machine broke down.

"I have seen the newspaper industry go from hot type to Justowriters, Compugraphics and computers," he said. "These are just a few of my 50 years experience in the newspaper industry, which most of the younger generation will not be able to understand."

The San Saba Star was consolidated with the San Saba News and now is called San Saba News & Star Donald Sloan and Gail, his wife of 45 years, own the publication. On March 5, 1999 he celebrated his 65th birthday.

"I can probably say I have been in the same location for 50 years," Sloan said.

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Joyce Atkins Latcham started in the newspaper business shortly after World War II and she continues to write a weekly column today.

She is the daughter of the late, George H. Atkins longtime publisher of the Beeville Picayune and then the Beeville Bee-Picayune following the two newspapers' merger in 1928. The newspaper has been in the family since 1907, but the Picayune was purchased by her grandfather, Thomas Atkins, before 1947 Joyce Atkins the turn of the century. He later sold it, and his son bought it back.

A 1939 graduate of Beeville's A.C. Jones High School, Ms. Atkins enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin at age 16. There she earned a bachelor of arts, majoring in Spanish and minoring in Portuguese. She achieved membership in Phi Beta Kappa honorary society.

During World War II, Ms. Atkins went to Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Nelson Rockefeller offices of InterAmerican Affairs. She translated speeches for the Brazilian consultant to the United States.

At the end of the war, she returned to Beeville in 1947 and took her place on the staff of the Bee-Picayune as general news reporter and author of a popular column called "Buzzin' Around," which she writes to this day.

She also submits the "50 Years Ago" column, which appears on the editorial page every Wednesday, and writes and edits much of the club news in the Family Focus section.

She married Fred C. Latcham Jr. in 1953 and, except for breaks to take care of her two sons Chip and Jeff Latcham, she has filled any position at the newspaper office where she was needed. She served temporarily as editor while the staff sought a permanent replacement after the death of Camp Ezell, who had held the job for more than 30 years.

Mrs. Latcham continues to work at Beeville Publishing Co. almost every day and staff members say she "is a valuable asset as the office historian, remembering many facts about the city and its families."

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H.V. O'Brien

H.V. O'Brien's newspaper career began with a walking delivery of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Carbon in the 1940s while he was still in high school.

"I think I remember 20 or 30 customers. In the summers, I sold subscriptions to the Eastland Telegram for O.H. Dick and with each order he gave a two-place setting of hand-painted Mexican pottery dinnerware," O'Brien said.

O'Brien said his good hand-to-eye coordination earned him good marks in typing and a good impression with his typing teacher who helped him get his first job with J.W. Sitton at Cisco Press counting out papers to the carriers and collecting and tallying their money.

"Sitton also recognized that if I was ever able to make a go of it, I needed to learn a trade, so he sat me down to an old Model 14 Linotype machine and very patiently exhorted me to learn a good for-a-lifetime skill," he said. "After many magazine dumps, hot metal squirts and smashed fingers, I finally became fairly proficient and finished the junior college work, as well as providing a livelihood for myself and my widowed mother."

O'Brien then went to work in the circulation department at the Abilene Reporter-News so he could continue college.

"Since I'd come out of a country shop, I'd been exposed to everything and did well there," he said. He later moved up to the tape punching machine on the night shift and the correction mill where he set agate baseball scores "by what seemed to be the dozens."

After graduating in 1953, O'Brien entered the Army for basic training in El Paso. When re-enlistment time came, he didn't, and instead went back to the Reporter-News, finally making scale pay as an operator. When he married, O'Brien went back to night shifts as a cub reporter, eventually working his way up to military editor.

O'Brien then returned to Eastland as manager/editor of the Telegram and after seven years bought that paper, Ranger Times and Cisco Press from Sitton in 1968.

He remodeled the Telegram building, bought an offset press and moved printing of all three papers to Eastland in 1971.

He later bought the Rising Star and in 1985, moved into a new building and added the Callahan County Star to his group, Eastland/Callahan Co. Newspapers.

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As a teen-ager in 1932, Ted Rogers had routes with The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Press in his hometown Breckenridge.

Little did he realize then that he would be a vital part of the newspaper business for years to come and participate in most of the major revolutionary developments in newspaper printing.

In 1936, he worked for the Breckenridge American, doing all the things that beginners in "hot shops" did in those days: mail hand, janitor, press helper and printer's devil.

He became proficient on the flatbed Duplex and moved over to the Cisco Press in 1940 as a pressman, working for AB. O'Flourdy and with Benny Butler and Truett LaRoque.

Like many others, he left a job in 1942 and became a serviceman, serving in the U.S. Navy in the Far Pacific until his discharge in 1945.

Having seen a major part of the world, he branched out and found a pressman's job at the Odessa American for a year and then was at the Borger Herald as pressman for another year. He went to Las Cruces, N.M., and was a pressman for the Sun News before returning to the Cisco Press in 1950.

In 1961, J.W. Sitton, publisher of the Press, bought the Eastland Telegram and Ranger Times and moved the printing from Ranger to the Cisco plant. This tripled Rogers' responsibilities, but he did find time to get married in 1965.

The Press had for many years printed three issues a week, but Sitton killed the Tuesday paper so the Press, Telegram and Times were each printed twice a week.

Ownership of the papers changed in 1965 but the printing cycle remained the same for Rogers until 1971 when he was expected to forget all he knew about hot metal printing and learn the new offset printing, which added water to the printing process.

He has remained steadfast and always been ready when it was press day. Since 1932, Ted Rogers has been a good and faithful newspaper person into the second quarter of 1999.

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James H. Winter

James H. Winter, owner and publisher of The Bowie News, began his newspaper career in 1947 at The Western Observer in Anson while still a student at Abilene Christian University and Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

Following graduation from Hardin-Simmons in 1950, Winter worked for the Winters Enterprise and worked briefly for the Rosenberg Herald as advertising manager before moving back to Abilene in 1952.

He began as a retail advertising salesman for the Abilene Reporter-News and later was named retail advertising manager of the Harte-Hanks flagship newspaper.

The "I want to own my own newspaper" bug bit nine years after he joined the Abilene paper so he purchased the Mason County News in 1963. Two years later he bought The Bowie News where he has been owner and publisher. The Bowie News is a twice-weekly newspaper with a paid circulation of 4500.

The paper also publishes the Adviser, a total market coverage product with circulation in Montague and Wise Counties. Bowie is the largest city in Montague County, located between Fort Worth and Wichita Falls on U.S. 81/287. Winter graduated from Merkel High School in 1942 and served in the U.S. Army in the Southwest Pacific in World War II. He served as an infantry sergeant in the American Division on the Solomon Islands and in the Philippines. He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge for his military service.

Winter is the father of three sons and a daughter. His oldest son, Norman, is with Mississippi State University, James Michael is executive vice president of marketing at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Lance is the publisher of The Colorado County Citizen in Columbus. His daughter, Susan, works for Texas Christian University.

He has been active in the Bowie Chamber of Commerce, the Bowie High School Jackrabbit Club and has provided community wide leadership on water and parks issues.

Winter and his wife, Connie, are active members of the First Baptist Church in Bowie.

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W.H. "Bill" Ellman had his first job in the newspaper business at age 16.

"I used to deliver handbills door-to-door for a small store in Federalsburg, Md.," Ellman said. "I'd have to go by the newspaper office to pick up them up. When I saw the Linotype machine, I was hooked. It just fascinated me. As soon as I graduated high school at age 16, I went back there to get a job," he said.

"They didn't let me start out on the Linotype machine, though," Ellman said. "I started out as a printer's devil, sweeping floors and melting metal."

His journalism career was interrupted early on when World War II broke out. After a two-year stint in the Army, Ellman returned to newspaper work.

"I've always worked in weeklies," he said. "I just can't stand the big papers because they categorize you."

In 1950 Ellman worked as printer at the Town and Country News in New Braunfels. He worked there one year, setting type with hot lead, before moving on to the Williamson County Sun in Georgetown, north of Austin.

In 1958, Ellman went back to the New Braunfels paper, purchased it and turned it from a free-circulation paper into a paid-subscription paper. "I had to do that before the Texas Press Association would let me join," Ellman said.

The winds of fate are fickle though, and after a financial shake-up, Ellman left New Braunfels to become managing editor of the Overton Press in 1963. Ellman, whose philosophy is "it's no shame to fail, only to quit," became the owner of the Press after the previous owner, George Manning, passed away. The Overton Press sold in 1987.

Ten years ago, in March of 1988, Ellman and his wife Glynda, began the Tri County Leader in Whitehouse, as newlyweds. The Leader replaced the two previous newspapers, the Troup Banner and the Whitehouse Journal.

Among his credits, Ellman currently serves as the first vice president in the North and East Texas Press Association, and is on the board of the Texas Press Association.

He has served as president of the Overton and the Troup Rotary Club; past president of the Overton Chamber of Commerce and a recipient of its Citizen of the Year award; past commander of the Troup Veteran of Foreign Wars post and current senior vice commander; past chairman of the Whitehouse library board; current secretary of the YesterYear organization; and past director on the board of the Whitehouse Chamber of Commerce.