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Work of Art: Same stuff, different day

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By Art Trujillo

“You guys keep printing the same news, and you even copy from each other.” There isn’t a newsperson alive who hasn’t needed to refute these charges.

Most of us have experienced that this-sounds-familiar phenomenon either when reading the paper or listening to the news:  the same word order, the same chronology.

A modicum of truth appears in both accusations. As for running the same news, well that depends. A skit in one of the ‘50s-era live variety programs, The Ed Sullivan Show, used the same line when a man in a diner read an article about Liz Taylor having taken a spouse.

“Ooh, that’s old news; they never print anything new,” he remarked. But was it really?

Was the press guilty of simply recycling an item that appeared a few months earlier?

Well, in Liz’s case, perhaps. That was when she was into her third or fourth marriage, well on her way to becoming Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton (again) Warner Fortensky and possibly Winters (she wouldn’t say).

So, when the headlines trumpeted out “Taylor Marries,” to anyone who’s not really keeping score, it looks like the same old, same old.

That’s one form of repeating the news, with only a slight change, in the groom’s name.

But what about the same actions being reported on? I became amused this week when Martín Salazar, the Optic’s managing editor, searched for an item for the Back in Time snippet that appears on page one. Got it! Salazar came across an item about the then-mayor of Las Vegas declaring an emergency and banning all fireworks.

Seem familiar? To their credit, last week, venders folded their fireworks tents after just a few days of business, much to the relief of the pyro-phobic populace.

As to the charge that the newspapers either copy from the radio or get copied from, well, that takes a bit of explaining. I’ve heard the implication since I was a boy, selling newspapers. Suddenly I had to explain, while on my route, the practices of those in the newsroom?

In the Meadow City, KFUN and the Optic have at times been served by the same news service, The Associated Press. United Press International was AP’s main competition, and when the local media chose one service over the other, for whatever reason, the stories often seemed repetitious.

I worked for a short while with the Albuquerque bureau of UPI, between newspaper jobs, and wasn’t surprised to discover that it took very little revising to adapt a story suitable to both radio and newspaper.

Some of the paragraphs appeared verbatim, and one would think either the newspaper was cribbing from the airwaves, or vice-versa. No, both media received news from the same source, but the press’ version was much more detailed.

• • •

My friend and neighbor, Ernie Martinez, showed me copies of old newspapers he’d come across while helping a friend clean out a house. There was a 1936 issue of the Santa Rosa News, containing mostly politics. And like many papers of that era, this weekly generally doctored up the front page to contain area news, but filled the other pages with material from the wire and from features syndicates.

Local lawyer and historian Jesus Lopez, who has both a weekly newspaper column and a radio program, no doubt has a grasp on all the media that have served Las Vegas. I confess I was not familiar with The Las Vegan, a 1935 copy of which I borrowed from Ernie Martinez.

Only four of the six pages of the bi-weekly remain of the faded, brittle paper. Its staff included Arnold W. Bauer, C.W. Loomis, Marie Nolan, Myrtle E. Bauer and Claude Phillips. The lead story is about “crowded to limit” enrollment at local schools. The headline reads, “Enrollment Records Set; 1,829 Boys, Girls Enter East Las Vegas Schools.” Las Vegas High had 309 enrollees, according to Superintendent W.B. MacFarland.

The article even subdivides enrollment, claiming that the classrooms of Miss Florence Cain, Miss Lou Tipton, Miss Leora Bishop and Miss Ruth Wilson had reached capacity.

There’s even mention of the 350 students at Immaculate Conception School, which included all 12 grades. And it cites the vesper choir, conducted by Sister Mary Paul. And the Normal School, across town, claimed 280 students.

Memory Lane is a pleasant diversion in going over this 75-year-old copy of The Las Vegan. It features two movies being shown at the Coronado, Paris in Spring, with Ida Lupino, and Keeper of the Bees, with Betty Furness. There was a matinee each Wednesday, for 15 cents.

And a business and professional directory lists the following businesses, none of which exists today:

Antuna Shoe Shop
Wicks-Skeie Truck Line
Pilar Abeytia, watchmaker
The Meadows Barber Shop
Ciddio Brothers Tailoring and Cleaning
J.B. Guerin Grocery
Wing Lee Laundry
Waggoner Refining Co, Gas & Oil
Consumers Gas & Oil Station, Carl Regensberg, Proprietor
Maloof Motor Co.: Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac
Rapid Shoe Rebuilding: G. Lovato
J.T. Varela Service Station
The Native Oven Bakery and Grocery
Blue & Yellow Taxi
Las Vegas Laundry
Hoffman and Graubarth, Inc.

•••

“It’s impossible to have a parade without — ”

“Horses,” chimed in my son Diego and his brother-in-law, Carlos Jimenez at Saturday’s parade.

Well, the equines are important, but so are marching bands. There were a couple of floats making their own music, but, alas, no marching bands.

In case you missed it, you can see close to 100 photos of the parade on my Facebook.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to artbt@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.