Opinion

Who was The Kingfish? Newspaper’s look back, behind scenes

The Kingfish. Tut. The Tri-Corner Department. These are some of the bygone bylines and columns that ran in the Snoqualmie Valley Record when the Valley and the world were very different places.

We will celebrate the Valley Record’s 100th anniversary this fall, and are preparing a special collector’s publication, similar to our annual Visitor’s Guide, to give the occasion some ink and fanfare. It’s been fascinating to hear the stories of former staff—and there are a lot of them—and to go down memory lane with historians like Gardiner Vinnedge, president of the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum, which is also doing a retrospective on the newspaper.

This paper was physically larger in the mid-20th century—there used be 25 stories on the front page—and, similar to today, it had an eye on nearly every aspect of life.

National news and state happenings mingled with all the minutiae of the local—births, deaths, accidents, lectures, out of state visitors and store sales all made the front page.

The Tri-Corner Department, a regular column that ran for decades circa 1950, was the birth announcements section. Former paperboy John Groshell, whose parents owned the paper in the ‘50s, explained where the title comes from: The three-cornered fold that you use to make a cloth diaper.

“Tut” was one of the Record’s stalwart sports columnists. His real name was Tuttle, and his column, like those of the rest of the people who wrote for the paper out of pure passion, was a labor of love, fleshed with friends and neighbors and decorated with the fish and game of each season: Fish one month, deer another, pheasant still another.

“With sporting and fishing, in particular, that’s a special world,” Vinnedge told me. “These columns are filled with names. ‘George got the limit. Fred fell in the lake.’ There’s a lot of kidding in it.”

Many of these writers are anonymous. One writer from the past, who the museum would really like to identify, wrote during the 1940s. He dubbed himself ‘The Kingfish.’ Doubtless the locals of his day knew exactly who he was. Seventy years on, we haven’t a clue, but we’d love to know who The Kingfish really was.

As I dive into the early days of the paper, it’s fascinating to see how it was done, and even more interesting, how the technology has changed. The paper today is printed on an enormous machine in Everett. In Snoqualmie resident Gloria McNeely’s time, it was all done here—no computers then—with heavy metal, ink and chemicals. Groshell remembers wiping down the mats of metal used to create the printed pages with strong chemicals—in his young teens. What kid would even be allowed to do that today? No wonder John went into golf.

There will be a lot more stories like that to come. I’d like to invite any and all Valley organizations and businesses to be a part of our special newspaper centennial Then and Now publication. Book your space and tell the story of your family or historic business by calling (425) 888-2311. The deadline is October 10, and the publication will be in the October 30 edition.

We’re looking to share the stories from behind the scenes of your local newspaper—how the job was done, what the old days were like, where the press really is buried—as well as the major events, the disasters, the war fronts, and how locals liked to have fun. It promises to be an amazing look back. Please join us, and share your history.

Contact the Record at editor@valleyrecord.com, or call (425) 888-2311.

 

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