In the 1950s, the local newspaper was our primary source for local and global news, weather reports, obituaries, radio listings, and more. that hadn’t even been invented yet, Joe Palooka, Henry, Little Lu Lu and many more.
We then had two newspapers: one in the morning, the Saint-Joseph Gazette founded in 1845, and one evening the News-Press founded in 1903. Almost everyone in town subscribed to local newspapers. The first thing I would do after school would be run home to read the next Dick Tracy story and listen to Captain Midnight, Sky King and Bobby Benson and the B Bar B Riders on the radio. Don Knotts, of the Andy Griffith Show, was the voice of Bobby Benson.
the St. Joseph News-Press survived by adapting to its time with excellent online paper and with a reduction in their daily print copies. The online paper is easy to read due to its large print and easily navigable format. You can even search for stories several weeks ago; you no longer have to dig through the recycle bin to find older paper.
My family’s relationship with the News-Press dates back to 1946 when my parents opened a pet store on Eighth and Messania streets, across from Safeway and Ben Magoons Delicatessen. In 1951, they moved the pet store to 12th and Frederick just north of the current Red Cross building. In 1953, the pet store was moved again to 3727 Frederick, now the Citizens Bank. It was first called Pony Express Reptile Gardens, but soon after it was called Flinchpaugh Reptile Garden, Zoo and Pet Shop. It had rarely been a month since the newspaper had animal stories about my parents’ affairs. Many of them were on the first page. Vicky Lynn, our pet chimpanzee, has been included in several of these stories, performing at the Krug Park Bowl and on KFEQ-TV.
A story spread around the world in August 1959 when the News-Press reported this to the Associated Press. Zoo worker Bill White was bitten by one of our cobras while cleaning the snake’s cage. Luckily, Bill survived because the Air Force has little of an anti-venom drug from the Miami Serpentarium in St. Joe’s. the News-Press reporter and I spent the afternoon in the police car watching this story unfold. This and other stories in the News-Press are documented in my Amazon book, “Growing Up in a Zoo”.
As most of their readers know from my monthly letters to the editor, I am a Conservative activist. I respect the News-Press for the way they honestly and fairly represent both conservative and liberal ideology, unlike many in the mainstream controlled press.
When I meet someone new, I ask them if they subscribe to News-Press. Many do, but there are others who say they get their news mostly from the internet and TV. I explain to them that we are lucky to have a newspaper of such quality at the service of our city.
For someone considering a move to St. Joe’s, the News-Press represents what the city is; more like an ambassador for the city of St. Joseph.
Larry Flinchpaugh is a resident of St. Joseph and a frequent contributor to News-Press letters to the editor.