Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | November 11, 2010

Saluting our Armed Forces on Veterans Day

Armistice Day 1918

This illustration appeared in The Gazette on Nov. 11, 1918:

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | July 18, 2009

That’s the way it was

From the archives, I pulled this farewell column by Walter Cronkite, who died on Friday, July 17, 2009. It was published in The Gazette on Aug. 21, 2004.

In the olden, more graceful days, a writer temporarily or permanently deserting the profession  surely would say that he was “laying down his pen.” In our modern digital age, the  equivalent declaration would be, I suppose, that I am unplugging my computer.

That would not only be far less graceful, but it would likely be erroneous. The computer will still be here, and occasionally it will be put to use, but no longer in the service of this weekly column.

This will be the last of these offerings through King Features Syndicate. That worthy organization a year ago gave me the opportunity to return to the profession I always thought of as my real home – writing for print, working as a newspaperman.

That is what we used to call ourselves. When I entered the field as a cub reporter in Austin, Texas, 68 years ago, it was rare that we used the exalted word “journalist” to describe ourselves. There were but a few women among our midst, and I apologize that I don’t recall what title we gave to identify them. The “journalist” formality seems to have overwhelmed the profession sometime in the last half-century, perhaps necessitated by the advent of so many other sources of news – radio, television and now the Internet.

In 1950, I deserted print to spend more than half a century helping to pioneer television news. Most of those years were spent traveling the world as the CBS anchorman on all the big stories: at home – the political conventions, the national elections; and abroad – the summit meetings in Vienna, Paris and Moscow, and the anniversary celebrations of D-Day, which I had originally covered as a United Press war correspondent.

Those television days unfolded into years and were rewarding – and yet … And yet they were not entirely satisfactory for an old newspaperman. The restrictions of time in television reporting were a constant frustration. There were space limitations in the newspapers, of course, but nothing like those brief headlines that passed for news stories on the magic tube.

Thus it was that this yearlong return to the newspapers was such a happy conclusion to this newspaperman’s career. It was a pleasure to feel that I was contributing at least a line or two to the newspapers’ importance in the public dialogue.

This importance is not as fragile as might be assumed by the fact that yesterday’s newspaper is such a handy wrapping for today’s garbage. Yesterday’s newspaper, carefully filed away, is the custodian of our history. From those newspaper files future historians will wring from the past the very essence of who we were and the world in which we lived.

The future of our civilization incubates in those newspaper files. From them will be extracted the knowledge that will point the way for future generations to avoid our worst mistakes and find the path to an even better world. Ah, yes, it is a heavy responsibility to the future that the newspaperman and newspaperwoman contributes by his or her daily effort.

I was proud to once again be a part of the newspaper world, but it has proved harder than I expected to fit the exacting deadline of a weekly column into my heavy schedule of television and radio documentaries and public speaking.

It is my hope that the writing you found here was at least adequate, but that, far more importantly, the reporting, and its fundamental research, was especially faithful, and, of course, that my conclusions were honest and fair, for these are the standards by which all newspapermen – make that journalists – should be judged.

Farewell to all of you loyal readers, and please accept my regrets that I found it impossible to answer your thousands of e-mail letters, which frequently offered most valuable opinion and comment that, indeed, broadened my own perspective on the important issues of the day. I learned a lot from you. I hope this was to some degree reciprocal.

This appeared in an “Around the Town” column on Jan. 28, 1958 about Cronkite’s appearance at a Chamber of Commerce dinner on Jan. 22:

WALTER CRONKITE, who spoke at the annual C.R. Chamber dinner Wednesday night, had plane trouble, too. There was a mixup in his connections in Chicago and he wound up in Iowa City instead of Cedar Rapids. To make matters worse, his luggage parted  company with him along the way. He arrived in Cedar Rapids without a change of clothes or even a toothbrush. Lew Van Nostrand fixed hjm up with a razor, lent him clean linen and a suit of clothes. When Cronkite told the Chamber audience about his difficulties, Clarence McIntyre, United Air Lines station manager, was naturally embarrassed. But he kept his sense of humor. “I’m accustomed,” said Clarence, “to discussing difficulties with a customer or even a group of customers, but 1,000 people! …”


Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | July 10, 2009

Making politics elegant?

Corrine Shover, whose memoriam ran in today’s paper, will be remembered by many Cedar Rapids baby boomers as a decades-long  source of grace and fashion.

An interesting article ran on Nov. 5, 1972, that reported on Mrs. Shover’s foray into politics:

SOMETHING DIFFERENT is in the offing this afternoon for voters in the 12th senatorial district embracing all or parts of Jones, Cedar, Jackson, Clinton and Scott counties. Barbara Marian of West Branch, the Democratic candidate running against Senate Republican Leader Clifton Lamborn (R-Maquoketa), will be hostess at a fashion show from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Tipton State bank in Tipton. Corrine Shover, who has her own finishing school and modeling agency in Cedar Rapids, is scripting and narrating the show in which the models will be such personages as Mrs. John Culver and Mrs. Dick Clark, wives of the Democratic candidates for Second district congressman and U. S. senator. There’s been one concession to males. Tom Finley of the Iowa City “Sundance” group will play the guitar.

Here is a Corrine Shover ad from June 1964:

corrine shover

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | July 9, 2009

Duck Pond Pavilion, but where’s the pond?

There’s a Duck Pond Pavilion in Ellis Park – but where’s the pond?

   There’s evidence it existed back in the 1920s  according to a July 9, 1921 edition of  The Evening Gazette:


Lovers of natural beauty particularly those persons who have scoffed at the phrase, “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these,” should go to Ellis park early tomorrow morning and view the water  lilies of  varied hue which have been placed in the duck pond, according to an announcement made today by Harry Whitfield, park commissioner. For many months the sensitive bulbs have been carefully cultivated in the Bever park greenhouse and it was only yesterday that they were deemed sufficiently hardy to weather outside elements. There are two varieties of  lilies, namely, “Nympheas” and “Marliacea.” To appreciate them one must go to the park at an early hour when they flaunt their beauty.

Pond overhaul, 1976

Pond overhaul, 1976

   I visited often with my mother in the 1950s and ’60s, and with my children in the 1970s and ’80s.   It got a major overhaul  in 1976. It was drained, dredged and new shrubs were planted on the island in the middle.

Pond filled in, 2002

Pond filled in, 2002

   Then  in 2002, then-Parks Commissioner Wade Wagner had it filled in in a vain attempt to control the city’s population of wild ducks and geese.

   Prior to that, the pond had been a popular spot for youngsters and their parents to watch and feed the ducks and occasional turtles from behind a wire fence.

duck pond

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | July 7, 2009

Sweet corn is a long and happy Iowa tradition

In light of Cecelia Hanley’s “corny debate” in today’s Gazette, I found this sweet corn party in Vinton in September 1954. There was a Sweet Corn Queen, political speeches and national media chomping on ears of corn.

vinton sweet corn

 Frank Nye covered the event for a Page One story. I love his description of the day:

They arrived early in the morning for the hour-long parade and they stayed late for the street dance.

   Between times they crowned a queen,  ate sweet corn, ”did” the carnival that occupied a block of  Main street, ate sweet corn, listened to a pair of short political speeches, ate sweet corn, watched a Waterloo drum and bugle corps demonstration, ate sweet corn, lolled in the welcome shade of Benton county’s courthouse, ate sweet corn, just plain got better acquainted with one another and ate sweet corn.

   In fact, anybody who didn’t eat at least two ears of sweet corn was considered a piker. Nobody knows who ate the most ears, but many visitors devoured between four and eight.


Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | July 3, 2009

What about Arthur Collins High?

   The Cedar Rapids School Board followed the local tradition of naming schools for presidents when the city’s youngest high school was named after President John F. Kennedy. But a Nov 14, 1965, Gazette story revealed that four other names were suggested for the school:

   “In a letter to school board members, President Ernest Pence listed five possible names for the new school. The names were not his ideas, he said, but were suggestions made to him by taxpayers.

   “The list: John F. Kennedy, Arthur Collins, North High, Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln.”

   At its Monday, Nov. 15, meeting the board chose “John F. Kennedy” as the school’s name by unanimous vote.

   President Kennedy’s youngest brother, Sen. Ted Kennedy, spoke at the school’s dedication on Oct. 7, 1967.

Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts (Mass.) is pictured speaking at the dedication Saturday of Cedar Rapids' new John F. Kennedy High School in northeast Cedar Rapids. The senator is a brother of the late President for whom the school is named. Shown in profile in the foreground is Robert Fitzsimmons, principal of the school.

Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts (Mass.) is pictured speaking at the dedication Saturday of Cedar Rapids' new John F. Kennedy High School in northeast Cedar Rapids. The senator is a brother of the late President for whom the school is named. Shown in profile in the foreground is Robert Fitzsimmons, principal of the school.

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | July 1, 2009

Braille and Sight Saving School’s Marching Band

The Braille School in Vinton not only had a band in 1950s, the band marched in the Lions International Parade in New York on Tuesday, June 30, 1959. Here’s the photo that ran on the back page of the July 1 Gazette:

braille and ss band                          










“Members of Vinton’s Braille and Sight Saving school band marched down New York’s Fifth avenue Tuesday at the 42nd annual parade of Lions International. Directed by John Best, the band is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. It is composed entirely of students who are either blind or partially blind.”

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | June 23, 2009

Tombstone in Bever Park, 1959

Fifty years ago, on June 23, 1959, The Gazette published a small item about vandals and a tombstone. bever tombstone

Why would anyone want to remove a tombstone from a grave and deposit it someplace else? 

But even more mysterious is where that tombstone was in the first place.

An obituary ran July 12, 1957, for Gertrude E. Duncan. She was buried at Cedar Memorial.

tombstone obit

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | June 16, 2009

Collins and Project Mercury – 1959

6-16-59 pg. 1

This photo ran on Page One in The Gazette on June 16, 1959.  The Mercury-Atlas 6  flight achieved orbit on Feb. 20, 1962.

Posted by: Diane Langton/SourceMedia Group News | June 11, 2009

Flood brings memorable day for CR dogs

A story published June 1, 1903, related the relatively minor damage of the Cedar River’s flooding at the end of May. Particularly interesting was how the high water affected the city’s dogs.

flooded rats

Was the cracker plant the Continental Biscuit Co. , whose address in the 1903 City Directory was 321 S. First St., or was it the former Shaver & Dows Cracker Factory at 87-89 S. First, which was sold in August 1890 to the New York Biscuit Co. It was sold again in July 1891 to the National Biscuit Co?

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