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The Lufkin News

Unprecedented growth: Record-page editions, Newsprint changes mark LDN's evolution from 1932 to '57

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Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:00 am

Lufkin and Angelina County emerged from the Great Depression as an industrial post-World War II powerhouse for East Texas with the growth of three of its largest employers - Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company, Texas Foundries and Southern Pine Lumber Company. The era also saw the creation of a fourth major industry, Southland Paper Mills Inc., the first facility to produce Newsprint from Southern pine wood fiber, an achievement in which The Daily News played a supporting role and set records for the size of local Newspaper editions. In 1932, still under the ownership of George E. Watford and W.C. Binion, the Daily News acquired a second linotype machine that, with the purchase of a new Duplex flat-bed web printing press, reflected a growth in the number of pages being printed each week. The improvements were needed because in 1932 the Newspaper published a record 50-page edition carrying the News that a mill designed to make Newsprint from East Texas pines would located a few miles east of Lufkin. In 1934, the Newspaper acquired new owners when a group of Lufkin businessmen - all of them associated with Lufkin's major industries - purchased both the Lufkin Daily News and the Lufkin Weekly News from Watford and Binion. The new owners included J.H. Kurth, the founder of Angelina County Lumber Company; W.C. Trout, who had moved to Lufkin from Wisconsin to run Lufkin Foundry and Machine Company; and Mrs. S.W. Henderson Sr., and S.W. Henderson Jr., also members of an Angelina County Lumber Company founding family. The three families, particularly Ernest L. Kurth, Joseph Kurth's son, had been in the forefront of bringing the Newsprint industry to Lufkin. A year later, the News moved from Cotton Square to a new location on the south side of East Lufkin Avenue and published a 64-page edition to commemorate the opening of its new facilities, setting another printing record for Lufkin. That same year, C.S. Broyles Jr. and Jack McDermott, as co-editors, began publishing a Sunday edition and discontinued its Saturday edition. During the coming years, the Newspaper scored several firsts as a small daily Newspaper. A staff reporter was sent to tour Texas with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 and another reporter was sent to Palo Alto, Calif., to cover the 1936 Rose Bowl game between Southern Methodist University of Dallas and Stanford University. At home, the Daily News also became one of the first in the South to completely air-condition its offices. On Jan. 14, 1940, the Newspaper set another publishing record that still stands - a 288-page edition marking the completion of Southland Paper Mills, Inc. And on Tuesday, Jan. 23, the News took note of the mill's first roll of Newsprint with a story that was almost pushed from the front page by a sudden winter storm. Below a banner headline reporting the storm, a smaller, one-column headline recorded an event that occurred that morning in the News pressroom. The story reported: "This issue of the News is printed on Roll No. 1 from the Southland Paper Mills, Inc., Lufkin. The paper you hold in your hand is off the first run of commercially produced southern pine Newsprint in the world." The 1,445-pound roll of white paper trucked to the Lufkin Newspaper from the Herty Newsprint mill in late January 1940, carrying a label stamped "No. 1," was symbolic of the enormous changes that subsequently occurred in America's Newsprint and Newspaper industries, the economy of East Texas, and Lufkin's own industrial economy. * It was the first time Newsprint - the basic commodity of all Newspapers - had been made commercially from the southern pine trees that have existed for centuries in the South. * It was the first time paper of any kind had been produced in an East Texas community. * It was the first time a complete daily Newspaper in Texas had been printed with southern-made Newsprint. In 1943, one of the News' most dynamic publishers, W.R. (Beau) Beaumier, who had arrived in Lufkin in 1941 from Beaumont to become manager of the Chamber of Commerce, was named president and general manager of the Lufkin Publishing Company. He held the position until his death in 1965. As a chamber of commerce manager, Beaumier guided Lufkin through a number of civic projects and as a Newspaper publisher he maintained his role as a civic leader, serving as chamber president in 1946, governor of Rotary Club District No. 190, president of the Angelina County Community Chest, and in other roles. During his career, Beaumier wrote one of the Newspaper's most popular columns, "I Could Be Wrong," and amassed a multitude of Newspaper, civic, religious and youth honors. Beaumier's office at the Newspaper office was on a second floor office with a window overlooking the editorial, advertising and business offices. Each afternoon, as the day's edition was being published, the first copy of the press run was carried up the stairs to Beaumier's office by a pressman. A former reporter tells this story: "If there was anything Beau didn't like about the paper, or if he spotted an error, you could hear him clip-clopping down the wooden stairs at high speed, heading for the pressroom. He was the first man I ever heard holler, 'Stop the presses.' " During his era with The Daily News, Beaumier served as president of the North and East Texas Press Association, the Texas Press Association, and the Texas Gulf Coast Press Association. One of the editors who served under Beaumier was Bill Bogart, who came to Lufkin after a career with the Tyler Courier-Times-Telegram. Like Beaumier, Bogart was widely known in Lufkin for his community efforts, but in the Newsroom he was known for his hard-driving coverage of local News. But Bogart was also a caring, sympathetic individual. He once took a cub reporter aside and gave him a stern lecture about misspelling the name of a man who died. "When a man dies, that may be the last time his name appears in print. Don't you think he deserves to have it spelled right?" Bogart served at the News until 1969 when he returned to Tyler to become the editor of the Courier-Times-Telegraph. He was later killed in an automobile collision on a Dallas freeway while en route to attend a Newspaper conference. Bob Bowman is a local author and historian who owns Best of East Texas Publishing Company in Lufkin. The Lufkin News' employees gathered in front of the Newspaper office on Lufkin Avenue in 1957 for a group photo. Pictured from the left are Doyle Womack, Ricky Pezdirtz, James Masters, Kenneth Barfield, Billie Bostick, Elbert Pirtle, Marie Leatherwood, unknown, W.R. "Beau" Beaumier, Joe Murray Sr., Naomi Wright, Lowell Reid, Eloise Collins, Mollie Avery, Dick Hollers, Virginia Bryant, Buddy Ivie, Shorty Lamar, Fred Bell, Bee Landrum, Bob White and Hal Whitley. Lufkin Daily News file photo Co-editors of The Lufkin Daily News in 1935 were C.S. Broyles Jr. and Jack McDermott. The Newspaper began publishing a Sunday edition that same year. Lufkin Daily News file photo The June 6, 1944, front page of The Lufkin Daily News. Lufkin's 1943 high school football team was the first to play in the state finals. the team lost to San Angelo, 26-13, in Dallas. First row, from the left: Ed Parrish, Huda Green, James Mott, Buddy McKinney, Jesse Bolles, Oliver McKay, Ernest Lord, J.C. Koch and Bert Westmoreland. Second row from left: Elton Beaird, Walter Still, Kenneth Outlaw, Chester Moore, Buddy Shotwell, Joe Tilley, Thomas Lee Roebuck, Carl Peppard, Joe Fontenot and Richard Lewis. Third row from the left: Coach Buck Prejean, Bobby Musslewhite, Arthur Leggett, Stanley Beck, Tom Tatum, Carl Bassey, Pete Hughes, Pete Runnels, Harmon Carswell and Coach Watty Myers. Fourth row from the left: Richard Cox, Talmadge Garner, Ernest Rutland, Ernest Bartlett, Leroy Lott, Don Patterson, Jack Ivy, Everett Griffith, H.J. Shands Jr., Robert Booker and Bobby Medford. Not shown is Les Taylor. Photo from Land of the Little Angel The Jan. 23, 1940, front page of The Lufkin Daily News. A small story in that day's paper reported: "This issue of the News is printed on Roll No. 1 from the Southland Paper Mills Inc., Lufkin. The paper you hold in your hand is off the first run of commercially produced southern pine Newsprint in the world." Lufkin Daily News file photo

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