The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., June 12, 1913, page 3


     Solicited by Mr. Thomison to give a sketch of the early history of the Glacier, I will attempt to tell what I know about its start and struggles for existence up to the time it was purchased by Mr. Moe, the present publisher.
     Along about the year 1888 Geo. T. Prather conceived the idea that Hood River was entitled to have a newspaper to let the world know of its wonderful resources, then lying dormant, and of its ambitious citizens, also more or less in a state of dormancy. Knowing me to be a printer (I then held cases on a Portland paper, where I worked during the summer months and spent the winter with my family at Hood River) he asked me to join him and start a paper. Our conversation was held in front of Geo. P. Crowell's store. E.L. Smith and some others were present. Mr. Smith pulled a shiny twenty-dollar gold piece from his pocket and offered it as a starter if we would start a newspaper. The late S.G. LaFrance, I think, offered to do as well. The shiny gold pieces were tempting, but having had some experience in starting and publishing newspapers before that day, and considering that the sparse population of the town and valley, I knew something of the cost and hard work of getting out even a country paper. By next spring, in 1889, Mr. Prather could resist no longer in his strong desire to give Hood River a newspaper. He went to work, soliciting subscriptions for three months, at 50 cents, for a Hood River paper. People of the town and valley responded liberally. Everybody could afford to put up four bits to have a home paper. J.H. Cradlebaugh was then publishing the Wasco County Sun at The Dalles. Mr. Prather made arrangements with Cradlebaugh to print the paper and mail it to subscribers for three months. I never heard Mr. Prather say how we came out on the venture, but at the end of three months he was willing to give the paper over to Mr. Cradlebaugh, who bought a hand press and type, purchased lot at Third and Oak streets, set up his press and began the publication of a real home paper that has never missed a publication date from that date to the present. Mr. Cradlebaugh named the paper at its start, when published in The Dalles, and gave it its motto: "The Hood River Glacier -- It's a Cold Day When We Get Left." Mr. Cradlebaugh run the paper, with the help of his wife who was a compositor, for five years. Being a lawyer he managed with his legal practice and the revenue from the paper to make a living. For a while he had a good run on of land notices. But in 1894, when the real hard times for Hood River came, caused by the loss of the strawberry crop on account of the big flood in the Columbia destroying the railroad, he found it impossible to meet his expenses out of the Glacier and the slim legal practice at the time. He went to The Dalles and engaged to edit the Daily Chronicle, leaving his wife to manage the Glacier. It was at this time, July 7, 1894, he gave me liberal terms to purchase the Glacier. To sell the plant and goodwill to anyone outside of Hood River at that time was entirely out of the question.
     During the last year of Mr. Cradlebaugh's ownership of the Glacier it was my pleasure to be his hired man and set most of the type for the paper. He is a ready writer, and since his work on the Glacier he has acquired fame from his literary productions. He never was known, while editing the Glacier, to have a line of copy ready for the compositor before the hour arrived for the compositor to go to work. I would walk in from my ranch to go to work at the case of 8 o'clock the day before publication day. Cradlebaugh would be in his house, probably at a breakfast. He would go to the print shop, next door, start a fire, light his pipe, and then his pencil would fly, making a copy for the compositor. Items occurring during the week he had gathered in his head. Getting copy enough ahead to keep me busy for an hour or to he would start in to spin yarns. Listening to jokes and stories told by John Cradlebaugh makes a person glad he is alive. My intimate acquaintance with him must have added ten years to my life. And what a bunch of copy he could turn out when he set himself to it. When enough type had been set to fill the paper, or the time had come to go to press, the copy hook was emptied into the waste basket. Some of his best productions, as he said himself, had to go that way.
     To file a writer like a John Cradlebaugh, as editor of the Glacier, was a serious undertaking for me. If I didn't purchase the plant he threatened to box it up, send it back to the type foundry and let it go at half price. Right then and there my local prided loomed up equal to that of Geo. T. Prather. It would never do to let the light of the Hood River Glacier die out and plunge to the town and valley again into the darkness of the Middle Ages. So I made the purchase by giving my note. Cradlebaugh was owing me near a hundred dollars for labor, which fact probably helped me to make up my mind to purchase, fearing that I might always have something coming to me. I went to my ranch home feeling rather sheepish brothers and guilty as I told my wife what I had done. She tried, I think, to console me by saying something about a white elephant. I found my boy sick in bed and had to hike back to town that Saturday evening for the doctor. Doctor Brosius came and said there were symptoms of typhoid. Monday morning I went to the office, cleaned up the pi, hustled around for items, wrote them up, set them in type and got out the paper on time for that week. I was farming that year, and besides getting out the paper all alone that week, I walked home for my meals at noon to see how my boy was getting along. Had three cows to milk evenings and mornings and attended my crops when necessary. Henry York pulled the Arm-strong press for me that first week, while I did the rolling act. My boy was better the next week and did the printer's devil share by inking the forms for me.
     Business houses in Hood River at that time were scarce, and those we had did know how to advertise. Cradlebaugh had no home ads from business houses, but had some good ads from The Dalles. The second week after taking charge I found time to interview the home merchants for advertising. Geo. P. Crowell was the leading merchant. He gave me a three inch add at $1.50 a month. That $1.50 ad run without change for the ten years the Glacier with under my management. Others who gave me small ads, "just to help along the paper," were T.C. Dallas, A.S. Blowers & Co., M.H. Nickelsen, Williams & Brosius, Hanna & Wolfard, O.B. Hartley and S.E. Bartmess. Together I got home advertising patronage that amounted to the magnificent sum of $13 a month! Those were the days when Hood River was really hard up. How the merchants lived and how the farmer existed during that period of hard times was almost a mystery. Not a subscription came in for two months after I took charge. Captain Judd Ferguson was the first subscriber to pay his subscription. He gave me two dollars, with the then a price of the paper. He had hardly left the office until a neighbor woman came in with a hard-luck story of how were children were without shoes and for that reason could not go to school. Thinking, no doubt, that I had the only paying business in town, she struck me for the loan of $10, to be paid when her strawberries came in the next year, provided we did have another flood in the Columbia. I assured her business was not very good with me, but it was picking up, was very sorry I didn't have as much as $10, but cheerfully gave her the two dollars. For two years the Glacier never got a land notice. Fortunately my expenses were about as light as any country paper that ever existed. For the first year I got rent free. My patent outside cost $1.60 a week and a few cents for postage on the papers mailed, made up my necessary expenditures. I did all the work on the paper with the assistance of my boy on publication days, and kept building so for five years, during which time my gross revenue receipts averaged $50 a month. The second year T.C. Dallas built the Glacier an office across the street from where the Glacier had been located by John Cradlebaugh. After the building was finished and I had moved in I asked Mr. Dallas how much rent he was going to charge me. He said: "Well, Uncle Sammy, do you think you can stand $5 a month?" I thought I could. About this time the price of the Glacier was reduced to $1.50 a year. At the end of five years the first irrigating ditch in the valley was completed and then good times for Hood River came along. It wasn't too long until the circulation of the Glacier got too big for the old Washington hand press and a Country Campbell power press was installed. This necessitated an extension of the building. Mr. Dallas cheerfully put up the addition. When the new press was set up in the new building I again asked Mr. Dallas what the rent would be. In his good natured drawl he replied, "Well, Uncle Sammy, do you think you can stand $9 a month?" I told him I could stand $10, and $10 it was up till the time I sold to Mr. Moe. Hood River never had a better citizen than Theodore Dallas. Open hearted, hard working, always cheerful, his tragic death was mourned by all who knew him. Bless his memory! Old timers will never forget him.
     The setting up of the power press caused an unlooked for difficulty in getting the machine to do the work. It was geared to run by hand as well as by other power. To find a man stout enough to run off the whole edition was not always an easy matter. We could never get a man to do the job a second time. One day, while hunting a man to run the press, W.M. Stewart, the hardware merchant, overheard me making inquiries. He was at that time temporarily out of business and was taking a day off from his vocation of outdoing Isaac Walton. Mr. Stewart volunteered to help me out and turned the press for the whole edition for the $1.50 I paid for the work each week. Mr. Stewart has held my good opinion ever since. About this time Joe Wilson came to my assistance when assistance was badly needed. He told me how I could get a water motor to do the work and immediately he sent to California and before long we had the motor installed. With what pride and a broad grin did D.N. Byerlee feed the old Country Campbell press after the motor was installed! He would turn on the power till the old press would bump and grind and wake people on the street to the fact that there was something doing in the Glacier office. During the last five years of my management of the Glacier the business was good. Though no great wealth was accumulated, I was well enough paid for the hard work I put in for the first five years. I never solicited an ad after the first month. I discovered years before that I was no ad man. But on subscriptions I was more successful. After I had run the paper for one month I went to The Dalles to collect for the advertising then in the Glacier. Every Dalles ad was ordered out. The merchants said they found it didn't pay to advertise in the Glacier. But there came a time when they thought it might pay. When times got to booming in Hood River I got an order from a big store in The Dalles to run a half page ad one time, without asking the price. At the same time they said they would give me about a 12-inch ad to run in a certain space for a year, to be changed once a month, and asked my rates. I replied by giving them a price of $75 for the half page ad one time and $100 a month for the 12-inch ad. They never came back but they got their big ad in the semi-weekly Chronicle and sent the paper free for three months to any name that they could learn in Hood River. Dead men's names were on their list. Postmaster Yates showed me a stack of Dalles Chronicles as big as his head that had been sent to persons who refused to take the paper from the post office.
     For my ten years' connection with the Glacier I have nothing to regret. In fact I look back with pleasure to those old days when I knew nearly every person in Hood River and made a lasting friendships with the old timers. Looking back and remembering the old time citizens of Hood River, some of whom are still with us, we can recognize their sturdiness of character, their cheerfulness under adverse circumstances, their help in building Hood River to what it is today.
     May 5, 1904. I disposed of the Glacier to A.D. Moe. Under his management it has gone ahead with leaps and bounds and taken front rank with the country publications of the state of Oregon. From the little sheet started by Geo. T. Prather it has grown to mammoth proportions and become an institution of the town and valley of which we can all be proud. May it continue so that, like its name sake on the mountain, "it will be a cold day it when it gets left."

Sam F. Blythe.
Hood River, June 3, 1913

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer