Initial Thoughts: Ernie Maxwell and community spirit

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Editor’s note: Ernie and Betty Maxwell wrote the column below. It first was published in the Oct. 28, 1952 issue. Each week this month and next week, until his birthday centennial, we will publish one or more of his columns.

Seven Hallowe’ens ago Hillfolk gathered at Fern Valley Lodge in a startling array of costumes. The husky Poates boys appeared as slinky sirens and in high squeaky voices but bulging biceps, warned goblins, clowns and ghosts not to take liberties with the belles.

We can’t remember our costumes but we recall we left early. We had a job to do at home. Likely the Lodge was dark when we finished our assignment. That was the night Town Crier came to be.

It was almost 4 AM before the two badly mimeographed pages that represented Volume I — No. 1 were put to bed. We printed about 250 copies and distributed them free to every boxholder. No advertising appeared in the first issue and we didn’t promise when it would come out again.

We hung around the post office watching folks’ reaction to the surprise issue and when the Aguirres said, “Say, we want to subscribe to that little paper!” we were encouraged to print another.

From that October day in 1946, Town Crier has appeared regularly regardless of snow, drouth, fire and an unpredictable mimeograph.

At first, we took the paper to San Jacinto to be printed at the home of a friend with an electric mimeograph and once, we almost didn’t make the deadline. Coming up the hill late at night we hit a snowstorm. Piled in the backseat were the unassembled pages of TC. As the snow on the road deepened, we hurried on and barely skidded into our driveway before the road was impassable.

While Town Crier was issued from our home at the end of one of the worst roads in town, there were winter days when it had to be hauled out on a sled. There were few callers at the “office” in those days except Hazel Cress who faithfully helped us assemble the pages of each issue.

Since the publication is virtually all hand made, the number of stencils cut over a period of six years is staggering. We figure we have typed more than 2,600 stencils since the first issue!

Town Crier has grown each year although no real pressure has been exerted to build circulation or advertising volume. No sets of dishes have been offered for subscriptions and no business man has had his arm twisted to advertise.

Town Crier has won a modest share of attention. Articles about its homemade folksiness have appeared in FORTNIGHT, L.A. TIMES and in the columns of Matt Weinstock, Kerwin Hoover, and various trade journals. Emax and Bmax told about it on KFI, and Meredith Willson last week dedicated his program to it.

Sometimes the going has been discouraging and we thought we’d quit but somehow this never happened and having completed its first seven year cycle, Town Crier feels it has passed its toughtest period. Its growth has coincided with the growth of the Hill and its increasing news. We hope to keep pace with new developments and reflect in the paper the sort of community we have here and the spirit in which we take such pride.

To all of you who have stood by us during our first six years, both readers and advertisers, we extend our heartfelt appreciation. It is your support and encouragement that keeps us wanting to bring to you “Almost all the news part of the time.”

— Emax and Bmax

From the Nov. 1, 1946 first issue
Reports persist that there is a native maple tree in this area. Also that bears still linger in the San Jacinto Mts. The TOWN CRIER offers a fine bag of pine cones to anyone verifying these reports. Two maple leaves or a bear skin will do.

Ernie and Betty Maxwell, former Editors

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