Viewing old clip files is entertaining
Monday, President’s Day, was a pretty slow time for me and allowed me to get caught up on correctly filing some of The Recorder’s old clip files.
Clip files is how newspapers chronicled the events around town and was the only way to keep track and records of stories. Today, that is done electronically, but if I have my way, we’d still clip stories out of the paper and place them in a folder. Often, photographs — you know, those 8-by-10 black and white things — would go into the file as well, but some files would take up more than two or three folders.
Unfortunately, over the years, many of the files and old photographs disappeared. I did file hundreds and many key events in our history are included, but I also noticed some were now missing. They had been thrown into boxes and on Monday, I got them all placed in filing cabinets where they will be better preserved.
I didn’t go through all the folders as I placed handful after handful in the filing cabinets and not every file caught my attention, but some of the bigger stories back in the 1980s and 1990s definitely caught my eye — that is when I worked here as editor my first time. I also enjoyed the reminders of the events and people that made up our news pages then, and before.
Some of the files, such as Success Lake, Highway 65 and Highway 190, go back more than 50 years and tell the story of how those major infrastructure projects came about.
In a way, going through those files is like time traveling. You find yourself quickly relating other events with those you run across, such as the major cocaine bust occurring the same year my daughter was born. Speaking of that 500-pound seizure of cocaine in Porterville in 1988, in doing my story on methamphetamine last weekend, I spoke with an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration who was in his first week with the Fresno office when that story broke. We both had a good time reminiscing about that big story. At the time, it was the largest seizure of cocaine ever in California and for a few days, scores of special agents descended on Porterville.
One thing I found in the file, and I am really glad I found it, was a special four-page paper we put out on the retirement of longtime Recorder editor Bob Moyle. I was hired by Mr. Moyle and had the privilege in following in his footsteps upon his retirement. The news staff put together the section, chronicling his long career at the paper — he worked for The Recorder from 1955 to 1986, most of that as editor.
The section is a who’s who of Porterville commenting about their love-hate relationship with the man who closely followed their actions as Porterville grew from a sleepy little town of 6,000 people to more than 25,000. Mr. Moyle covered it all and not so unlike today, he would roll up his sleeve and go out and cover stories, just as I do today. He was not just the editor, but the reporter and editorial writer for The Recorder. He was the eyes over city hall and at times, he did not always see eye to eye with the City Council, thus the love-hate relationship.
I know this might sound boring to most, but sitting down at the library and browsing through The Recorder on microfilm can be very entertaining and educating. Just pick any time period and begin going over the pages. You’ll learn that while a lot has changed, there are some things very much the same. You will get a good understanding of why some things are the way they are today and you’ll learn about people like Mr. Moyle and how so many of them played key roles in the growth and development of town.
Unfortunately, I do not have the time to go through the hundreds of clip files still at The Recorder, but when I do I think I’ll take a few home and write about what I find. I think you’ll find those stories interesting.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.