A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Bow Wow

A rerun from 2011...

In the world of High School Journalism, Waldron High School surely had the student newspaper with the coolest name.  In honor of our beloved mascot, The Bulldog, our newspaper, the Voice of the Bulldogs, was of course The Bow Wow.  I have no idea who thought up that name, or even what year the Bow Wow first started.  But every month, a group of dedicated students churned out another edition of The Bow Wow.  And I do mean churned out; The Bow Wow was printed on a mimeograph machine. 

The Bow Wow was sponsored by Suella Ross (later Bratton), who taught typing at Waldron High.  The Bow Wow staff consisted of an editor, an assistant editor, an exchange editor, a business manager, two artists, two sports editors, and three groups of workers:  reporters, typists, and production.  The three groups were somewhat interchangeable; I was technically a typist but I got to do some reporting as well. 

Each month, we would meet together as a staff and make decisions about what we wanted to include in that month's edition.  The editor would assign various topics to different individuals, but if someone thought of something later on they could usually persuade the editor to include it.  We were given a deadline to submit our work, so that enough time would be left to type the individual pages.  We typed the paper on stencils, which were like ditto masters but a bit harder to work with.  The stencil consisted of a sheet of paper attached to a second, wax-coated sheet of paper.  When you typed the stencil, the impact of the typewriter keys made a wax impression on the back of the first sheet of paper.  This would serve as your duplicating master.  If you made a mistake, you had to take a knife and carefully scrape away the wax from the back of the page, and then make sure your page was still lined up correctly so that you could re-type over the mistake.  The typists always breathed a sigh of relief when a page was completed successfully. 

The next step was the production.  Each page had to be carefully attached to the drum of the mimeograph machine.  There was a little metal strip on the drum that raised up, enough to fit the top of the page under, and then it lowered back down to hold the page secure.  You would take your stencil, tear off the front page and discard the wax-covered second page.  Then, you carefully placed the master under the little metal strip on the drum.  You had to get it just right, or else your page would wrinkle when the drum turned, which could cause a young person to lose their religion if not extremely self-controlled.  But, if all went well, you could then crank out however many pages you needed.  Since we were a newspaper, we printed on front and back, so you would turn the printed stack of papers over and print the next page on the back.  Finally, after all the pages were printed, they had to be sorted and stapled along the left side of the page.  So, as you can see, the production staff worked hard!

Then, the fun part; selling the Bow Wow.  I believe we charged ten cents per issue.  The Bow Wow staff could get out of class to sell the paper.  We would all grab a stack of papers and disperse to all regions of school, some to elementary, some to junior high, and others to the high school classes.  Elementary kids were eager to buy the Bow Wow, even though there was almost never anything about elementary school in it. 

So, what was in the Bow Wow?  We had reports from various clubs, a little bit of sports news, occasionally some goofy survey where we asked lots of people some off-the-wall question and published their answers, poetry, a student-made crossword puzzle, occasional serious commentary about national or world events, and I even got to do a series of comic private eye spoofs.  Working on the Bow Wow was great fun, and we even learned a lot about teamwork and creativity, not to mention the importance of meeting deadlines.

But, alas, The Bow Wow is no more.  It went away quietly, no one seemed to even notice.  I don't know when it happened, actually.  It just ceased to exist.  I guess it was just a matter of time catching up with it.  High school students now have access to technology and coursework that is far beyond what we were able to learn.  And Waldron High is able to offer students training and experience in a number of high tech areas, at a level comparable with or above even larger school districts.  So, we shall weep not for The Bow Wow; it will live on in our memories, and in the copies that I've kept since 1974.  And maybe I can do a post sometime soon featuring exerpts from some of those Bow Wows.

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJune 12, 2011

    i was a artist on the bow wow and had a great time.