The Finlayson News
This is a description of The Finlayson News (a transcript is available from the author) that was published in Muskogee, Okla. from Feb., 1950 through November of that year, and again the next summer in 1951. The editor was Bruce Finlayson, who was in the fifth grade when the newspaper started and between sixth grade (elementary school) and seventh grade (junior high school) in the summer of 1951.
The newspaper was printed on a Star printer (see https://printinghistory.org/swiftset- journal/). This means he had to create a line of rubber type, upside down and backward, to create a printed line. Since the pages are 3.5″ x 7″, and 7″ x 7″, he must have had the Star printer. For the pages with a left and right side he must have printed one side, then the other side, since the paper width could only be 3.5″. He engaged in all aspects of a newspaper: selling subscriptions, selling ads (called adds!), getting the news, printing the paper, and delivering it. Throughout the series he identifies people who helped him, as well as listing the subscribers. I’ve retained the spelling of the original newspaper. Perhaps some of the misspellings were due to looking at type upside down and backwards, thus confusing ‘u’ with ‘n’ or ‘ie’ with ‘ei’. At least that is my excuse!
Bruce’s mother kept the issues, because he obtained them from her when she moved into a nursing home. The top of each one has Finlayson in cursive, indicating that copy was to be given to a subscriber named Finlayson. (Can fifth graders write in cursive any more?) The issues have been scanned into a pdf file, too, although some of it is hard to read because the printed ink is dim. In the original, with a magnifying glass, most of the words can be determined.
Bruce went on to be a professor at the University of Washington and wrote four books. Three of those were printed by established printers. One book he wrote to be published in 1992 was to be distributed with a floppy disk filled with computer programs to illustrate the numerical methods described in the book. He found that the publishers wouldn’t do that since they didn’t know what a floppy disk was. However, it was a research monograph and he reasoned that he had addresses of most of the people that might buy it (from the papers he read and referred to). So, he put it into PageMaker (with substantial help from one of his daughters) and hired a printing plant to print it. He formed a company, Ravenna Park Publishing, an S-corporation active for 20 years, and his entire family became the Board of Directors. One day a number of boxes arrived on the parking strip (1100 copies). Again he did all the functions: advertising (mostly in the SIAM News (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics), packaging, and billing. Amazon.com, just starting then, was a great help because people could order from it, but he also accepted orders in the mail and on the phone. While he couldn’t accept credit cards, he would ship the book and most people paid. Before 9/11 it was easy: he or a family member, accompanied by their dog, would walk the package to the mail box and deposit it. The large family dog was referred to as “Director of Security”. After 9/11 the package weighed too much to be put in a mail box and had to be taken to the post office. In the end he sold more copies than the established publishers had estimated, and this book was more profitable than others he wrote, since he was performing all the functions.
Transcription of one issue.
August 21, 1950: MARRIED BUT IN COLLEGE. Ronald May was married Fri. the 18th to Naomi Gray from Memphis, Tenn. Both are in college and both will stay in college.
Mrs. Miles came home Mon. Dr. & Mrs. Miles went to Pikes Pike and Denver. The Finlaysons went to the Temples Sunday to play cards.
News is short in the summer but school is near in Oklahoma so the paper will improve some.
RECEIVED LIFE CERTIFICATE. Mrs. Temple may now teach at any Oklahoma school because she has a life certificate.
The Temples and Miles came over to the Finlayson Saturday night to visit and play cards. Mrs. Scully, the Mays, and the McPharrons are the 16th, 17th, and 18th subscribers.
EDITORIAL. Wouldn’t you like to change your add? I would like to get new adds if you have not already changed within 2 months.
Myrna Strack and her mother went home Friday.
TRIP TO NORTHERN STATES. Bruce & Mr. & Mrs. Finlayson went to Waterloo, Minneapolis & Mason City. Mr. Finlayson went to a meeting in Owatonna from Monday morning to Saturday night.
In Minneapolis Mrs. Jameson & Mrs. Finlayson went shoping on the 7th & 8th. On Monday Bruce went to the investors Diversified Ser. Offices. He walked with the advertising manager of the company Mr. Phifer who gave him a book of type faces. He meet Mr. H. Degan who bought him a Sunday and Mr. L Muehlberg both of the legal dept. He also meet Norv Skog head of the printing & supply dept. Mr. Finlayson went to see the offices with them Sat.
In Mason City on Thursday night the Bruce and Mrs. Finlayson went to the Stewarts for dinner. On Friday the 11th the Finlaysons went to Clear Lake. On Saturday Mrs. Stewart gave an odd party for Mrs. Finlayson to meet old friends. On Friday Mrs. Miller gave a party for the Book Club.
The Mays & both Finlaysons went out to dinner Sunday night the 13th.
Printing History of the Finlayson News
Second Issue. IF YOUR FRIENDS OR ANYONE ELSE WANTS A PAPER CALL SUE FINLAYSON AT 1373-M. THE ISSUES ARE 1 CENT A PIECE.
Feb. 20, 1950: NOW CRAFTSMAN. Now Bruce Finlayson editor is a Swiftset Master Craftsman Printer.
Mar. 6, 1950: We will change the subject from school to family. You may write in with news. It goes in the paper free. We will have some school news.
Mar. 12, 1950: Bruce sent off for $1.50 worth of type Sun. Bruce went to the Star Printery last week.
Mar. 20, 1950: COMMENTS ON MUSKOGEES PAPER BY R. A. Finlayson A. P.
To much news in unimportant things and to less important news. John Lewis stone says nothing in his column. Not enough important state & important national sports. Need a good profe reader who knows how to spell. Put Blondie in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix.
May 29, 1950: BRUCE FINLAYSON – the publisher of this paper – got his name in the Swiftest Rotary Printers Journal for the thank-you card he printed.
PLEASE ASK YOUR friends to subscribe. After I have 20 subscribers I may raise the price and get a bigger press. Send the names of the new subscribers to me. Editorial.
June 5, 1950: START PRINTERY PRINTING SHOP. MR. SCOUT HUDSON one of the
subscribers invited Bruce to the “Star Printery” to show him around. Bruce had lots of fun and they made Bruce’s name in linotype & printed it.
EDITORIAL. PLEASE SEND news to me. In the summer news is hard to find around here
June 26, 150: The paper will now have four pages to cover all the news. It will cost $.02.
The adds will be 2¢ a line for the first 3 lines, after that 1¢. This issue is one cent.
July 18, 1950: EXTRA issue DESCRIPTION. On Sunday the birthday was celebrated because Mr. Finlayson and Adella Langill were there.
Bruce got an All-star game, drumstand, two dollars, comics and a flashlight. On Tuesday he got three dollars and a dog. The dog was a pottery dog like Bonnie.
Sometime the whole family is going to go to the show together.
July 31, 1950: EDITORIAL. I received some equipment Friday. All of the equipment I have now is from printing money or birthday money put into printing money. I shall print some ‘Christmas Cards’ which you shall have a copy of.
Aug. 21, 1950: TRIP TO NORTHERN STATES. Bruce & Mr. & Mrs. Finlayson went to Waterloo, Minneapolis & Mason City. Mr. Finlayson went to a meeting in Owatonna from Monday morning to Saturday night.
In Minneapolis Mrs. Jameson & Mrs. Finlayson went shoping on the 7th & 8th. On Monday Bruce went to the investors Diversified Ser. Offices. He walked with the advertising manager of the company Mr. Phifer who gave him a book of type faces. He meet Mr. H. Degan who bonght him a Sunday and Mr. L Muehlberg both of the legal dept. He also meet Norv Skog head of the printing & supply dept. Mr. Finlayson went to see the offices with them Sat.
News is short in the summer but school is near in Oklahoma so the paper will improve some.
Oct. 16, 1950: MUST HAVE YOUR HELP. What would happen if the out-of-town subscribers didn’t send news in their letters? What would happen if the subscribers who I call on the phone or see didn’t give me any news? The answer: the paper would get smaller and finally discontinue. Send news in your letters and be ready for the reporter when he comes, to keep the paper live.
October 23, 1950: Don’t forget to buy Christmas Cards. 1¢ apeice. Many orders have forgotten to state name to be printed on cards, if any, and the 10 ¢ postage.
The paper will be discontuined because the publisher does not have enough time with school on. If you have put in money in advance it will be refunded. Followed by a handwritten accounting.
110th Issue. [articles from various dates, probably submitted for the certificate] Bruce Finlayson is a “Swiftset Master Craftsman,” an award for nice, neat sample of printing. Just recently he was awarded a “Certificate of Merit Award.”
July 25, 1951: We would like to thank Sue Finlayson for folding the papers last week.
Aug. 22, 1951: ANNIVERSARY PAGE. EDITORIAL. I would like to celebrate the 52nd publication of “The Finlayson News.” 41 issues were published in 1950 ‘till Nov.. and 11 in 1951. The press has been operating 20 months doing commercial printing during the non- publication period.
“The Finlayson News” started when in 1949 October Bruce started writing a paper with pen & ink. He could only make 2 or 3 copies. Then he saw a press in a catalog, put it on his Christmas list and received it then. Bruce Finlayson. One year editor.
Aug. 29, 1951: EDITORIAL. EDITOR SAYS, “SO LONG.” We are sorry the paper has to be discontinued. During school not enough time is left for the needed play and printing the paper both. “The Finlayson News” last issue is this one. The paper will not be not be published next summer. I have enjoyed printing the paper and hope you enjoyed it. Bruce Finlayson
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