Fort Worth Press: “Pep! Punch!! Personality!!!” (Part 2)

1 press logojpg

The Fort Worth Press didn’t have a big payroll (see Part 1), but it attracted good journalists and made them better.

Editors included Blackie Sherrod, Pop Boone, Mary Crutcher, and Delbert Willis, a forty-three-year employee who went to work at the Press as a copy boy at age eighteen and worked his way up to editor, lost a leg in World War II, and once fought off a platoon of irate readers in the Press newsroom by swinging his crutch at them.

Writers included Bud Kennedy, Chris Evans, Carol Nuckols, Pete Kendall, Elston Brooks, Carmen Goldthwaite, Andy Anderson, Whit Canning, Mike Shropshire, Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake, Gary Cartwright, Puss Ervin, Carl Freund, Mack Williams, John Tackett, and Marvin Garrett on the Action Desk. Among the syndicated columnists were Jack Anderson and Earl Wilson.

(The Year Was 1948: Fort Worth Press Columnists)

Chris Evans, who would later write features for the Star-Telegram, was a reporter under Press executive city editor Mary Crutcher after college in 1972. Years later, Evans said, Crutcher reminded him that good editors have good memories:

 “[I attended] a Press reunion at the old Headliners Club a year or two after I was back in Fort Worth. I’d not seen Mary Crutcher but still could feel the fear she instilled in me return at the mere thought of her.

 “Well, by this time Mary was walking with a cane. I remember that she was made up as always. Mary apparently dated every cop in the department in her day and was quite a looker.

 “When she saw me down the table, she pointed at me and said, ‘I know you, boy,’ after which I went over and talked with her briefly.

 “She was almost cordial. So when she got up to go to the bathroom, I, not knowing her destination, got up and walked with her. When it was apparent where she was going, I tried to go up and push open the outer swinging bathroom door for her.

 “When I did, she got her cane, poked me in the chest and said, ‘I can get that.’

 “Then, before disappearing into the baño, she smiled and said, ‘You write too damn long.’”

 2 press pearl dec 8 41For a number of years the Press did not publish a Sunday edition. In 1941 that meant that the newspaper could not report the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (10:55 a.m. CST Sunday) until Monday, December 8.

 2 press fdr april 12 45President Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. The cost of a copy of the Press had risen to a nickel.

 2 press aug 6 45

The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.

 2 press pete 9-18-54

On September 18, 1954 the saga of Pete the python began. The lead paragraph of this faded clip reads: “Bulletin: Police radio reported shortly after 1 p.m. today that the escaped python at Forest Park Zoo had been sighted near the river 100 yards off University Dr.”

 2 press carter june 24 55

The Press devoted a full front page to rival publisher Amon Carter on June 24, 1955.

press-to-tabloidThree months later the Press changed its format to tabloid and dropped the Saturday edition and added a Sunday edition.

 2 press jfk 23-63

November 23, 1963.

 2 press july 20 69

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Apollo 11 spacecraft on the moon.

The headline in lower right refers to the accident at Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, on July 18 when Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge. Passenger Mary Jo Kopechne was killed.

 2 press last issue rfk

The Press printed the news in black ink but increasingly operated in red ink. After losing money for a number of years, the Press stopped the presses on May 30, 1975. Jack Howard, president of Scripps-Howard, issued a statement: “The Fort Worth Press, never economically strong, has not made a profit in the last 25 years. In the last five years, expenses have increased steadily and, inevitably, losses have mounted.”

The Press published two editions each afternoon: the first edition and the final edition. This is the front page of the first edition on May 30.

 2 press last issue farewell

This is the front page of the final final edition of the Fort Worth Press, May 30, 1975.

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6 Responses to Fort Worth Press: “Pep! Punch!! Personality!!!” (Part 2)

  1. earl belcher says:

    Great work, Mike. My old paper route for 6 years. Behind the old building a church chapel was found. I guess it’s still there. Just a shell now. Probably where the staff went to pray for new ownership. As a paperboy we were told to be on the lookout for news stories. If we saw something, call in on our walkie-talkie or phone. They were on the old 27mhz buss.band. I wonder who if anyone got the paper’s morgue.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Earl. I threw the Press in my neighborhood. Don’t know who got the news and photo archives. Or the Linotype machines, etc. Complete history of that little church chapel.

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