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.

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