Bob Mitchell: Cleaning the spike

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Midway into the first month of the New Year seems like a good time to dip further into the spike and go into the New Year with a clean spike of information.

There will undoubtedly be enough happenings during the following months to hopefully be sufficient to continue this column.

For those of you who might not have followed this column long enough to know what a spike might be, it was a needle-like apparatus that newspaper folks once used to keep trivia information or comments on for future use. Once the needle got full, it was time to use that information in some way or throw it in file 13.

Got me in trouble

Borrowed from another publication: “Xmas doesn’t remove Christ from Christmas.”

“It’s quite the opposite in fact. According to From Adam’s Apple to Xmas An Essential Vocabulary Guide for the Politically Correct, the word Christianity was spelled Xanity as far back as 1100. X, or Chi in Greek is the first letter of Christ and served as a symbolic stand in 1551, the holiday was Xtmas but eventually shortened to Xmas.”

It would have been beneficial for me to have possessed this information at the start of my career with the Cassville Democrat back in 1953. There was a situation when writing a headline that contained Christmas that didn’t fit in the size handset type we were using at the time. So, Xmas was used instead to complete the headline.

No sooner had the newspaper hit the street than a couple of local Baptist ministers hit our front door on the south side of the square and informed me in no uncertain terms that the use of Xmas in this part of the country just simply was not permitted.

One of these individuals was a good friend of the paper, the Rev. Charley VanZandt, the other would just as well be forgotten. Rev. VanZandt, some might remember, at one time held the record for the most marriages conducted in this area. Most were performed in his home.

The purpose of this comment, no matter what any guide might suggest, the abbreviation for Christmas was never used again, even if we had to choose another type size.

Back to spike cleaning

I appreciated Jason Rima’s recent comment in The Rattler concerning the Central Crossing Bridge between Shell Knob and Viola, although not fully complete, it was factual to the point of those who were really responsible for the efforts to replace this important structure that had made it possible for a good growth in Barry County.

Sad note, Thorco Inc., once a major employer in Cassville for six years, is no longer in business, having closed plants in Nevada, Butler and Lamar. Company personnel were always among the most active participants in early Hillbilly Industrial Golf Tournaments in early days. Some of their talented golfers walked off with major prizes at various times.

One of our favorite people back in south side of square days was Mrs. Galen Price. She lived at the corner of First and Gravel on the southeast corner, no longer there. She made two trips daily to MFA when it was on East Seventh, usually purchasing a can or two of veggies. On each trip she would stop at the paper to rest. One day, the late Ralph Hamilton had just accepted to become the superintendent of Cassville schools and was visiting with my uncle Means. Mrs. Price was in her chair, and as she often did, waited as long as she could, came over and interrupted the conversation, asking Hamilton his name and what was his business here? Dumbfounded, he replied he had just accepted the job here. Her reply was “that’s alright, but I just want to know two things about you... what’s your religion and your politics? Somewhat hesitant, Ralph replied, “I guess you would say I was a Baptist and a Democrat.” To this Mrs. Price threw up her hands and exclaimed, “That suits me just fine!” This same encounter happened more than just this one time, with others involved.

You don’t suppose there will ever be a TV supplier that will let you choose what channels you really want to watch and you would subsequently pay for only the entertainment that you want? There might be a possibility in this venture, ridding the viewing of the garbage and commercialism that exists today. The company that would decide to take on this task might find they could sell their services, possibly at a premium to a lot of households.

For this month

Sorry fishermen, the Almanac says no more good fishing days this month. It does call for possibilities of unsettled weather for the remainder of January.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.