Hell on Thursdays at the newspaper office
"We are not free to use today, or promise tomorrow, because we are already mortgaged to yesterday," ___ Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1858
By Rob Carrigan, robcarrigan1@gmail
Barbara Spencer, the longtime postmaster in the Ouray mining camp, recalls her husband's newspaper business in various mining camps in the early twentieth century in recorded oral histories compiled in “The Way It Was, A Historical Narrative of Ouray County” by David Bachman and Tod Bacigalupi.
Don Spencer took over the paper in Ouray after his parents retired and his brother left to start a paper during the uranium boom in the Moab area.
“I wont live long if I keep this up,” Barbara said her husband commented. “It was hard for him. He could put out a newspaper but it was a lot of work for both of us. Joyce Jorgenson has a picture up at the newspaper office that is called ‘Hell on Thursdays.’ I can understand and agree with that title. Many times worked all night to get that paper out and to the post office by Friday morning.”
“The paper wasn’t as big as it is now, just four pages and a two-page insert sometimes. But Don and I had to fold all the pages by hand, set all the type, and Don had to set all the heads and then run the press. One of our big stories was the Idarado fire. There were birth and death announcements and there was always a personal column. We subsisted on legal publications from the county and what ads we could get. That’s the reason we had to close the Oak Creek paper and come home. The war had started and could not get advertising. People wouldn’t put ads for refrigerators when they couldn’t get refrigerators, cars, or anything,” said Barbara Spencer in Bachman and Bacigalupi’s 1990 book.
In the same book, Rosie Halls noted that it wasn’t just the newspaper business that was tough. She worked for boarding houses, hotels and on the ranch.
“Sometimes I thought it was a hell of a life. I know what it is to be hard up. Kids today don’t know what to do if they are hard up. During the Depression, we didn’t have enough to eat. My folks didn’t have enough money to send us to school and pay for clothes, and eats, and shows. If we wanted to do that, we had to do it on our own. Then we couldn’t do it all the time because we couldn’t afford it. That was why I worked all the time.”