Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mr. Laflin's Date with Thursday

Did Charles Laflin, owner, publisher, and editor of the Govert Advance, ever take a week off? Every Thursday Goverites expected to pick up their copies of the local newspaper along with their mail at the Govert store. A week without the latest news from Govert township and the surrounding area would have been a week too dismal to imagine.

Mind you, Mr. Laflin did not turn out a newspaper every week quite alone. Mr. Laflin may have been the editor of the Govert Advance, but his wife set the type. Perhaps she did more than that. Wives tend to, don't they, even if their contributions aren't recorded on the masthead. Both of the Laflins were well-educated for their day. High school diplomas, practical experience, and a bit of the derring-do were all they needed to create a local newspaper legend. Both were deeply invested in the Govert community, both were personable and popular, the perfect newspaper team for Govert township.

The Laflins turned out a newspaper every week from what must have been about 1916 to the last edition in 1943. Roughly that's 1400 editions. Seriously? Maybe you should check my math. Vacations were few, being sick a luxury, and writer's block an indulgence.

Maybe Mr. Laflin did get some time off. Homesteading in the early 1900s quickened the imagination, just like reporting the news appealed to men of imagination. Mr. Laflin wasn't the only one in this sparsely populated corner of Harding County with newspaper experience. The Scott brothers came from a newspaper family and brought their skills with them when they took up West River homesteads. F.F. Fuller filed a homestead claim between newspapers. Harry Devereaux worked on a paper in Panama while other men of adventure were building the Canal. Mr. Devereaux became an early editor of the Govert Advance, perhaps the first, and remained in the area, living a few miles south of Govert. Certainly newspaper talent was available if the Laflins ever needed to return to Iowa to tend to family business.

Spirited men, men of intelligence, adventure-seeking men. What conversations these newspaper men must have had! Renaissance men, men of more talents and skills than we dare look for in the 21st century. Men of vision, unafraid of ventures new and daring. Their conversations must have been electric. Do not discount women of imagination, Renaissance women. In these early years of the 20th century, a woman dared engage in the work of a "newspaper man", too. We can imagine the conversations of these men and women. Recreating such an interchange is another matter.

Such were the people who reliably produced small town newspapers week after week, year after year. In my absences from Thru Prairie Grass, I hope you will miss reading the stories of Govert township half as much as every subscriber of Govert township would have missed the Govert Advance ... should Thursday ever have passed without the flurry of newspaper distribution at the Govert store.

Listening to the wind blowing through the prairie grass. Kate

1 comment:

  1. Sweetheart,

    Welcome back after your holiday break. The town of Govert would have missed a skipped Thursday edition of the Govert Advance. Well, we’ve missed your Thursday blog postings the past few weeks.

    Thanks for this week’s item. As usual, you’ve added to our store of information and interesting history about Govert, and its residents, and you’ve done so in your usual enjoyable and well-written way. It’s nice to learn something about yet another aspect of life in Govert…this week about the newspaper. Thanks, again.



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