Editors face multiple challenges

By Don McAlvay: Freedom columnist

Editors, as a lot, are usually decent, hardworking and totally dedicated to their task.

Editors of small town newspapers in the old days, not too unlike their counterparts today, often found it difficult to please everybody.

The editor of Clovis’ first daily newspaper, The Pony Post, in his first issue April 23, 1909, summed it up neatly this way:

“The pathway of the small town editor is not gorgeously bestrewn with pansies, mignonettes and violets — not noticeably — but is much beset with many varieties of burrs, smart weeds and touch-me-nots. The burrs are much given to pricking the poor editor at every turn. The smart weeds all know more about the editor’s business than does the editor himself; the touch-me-nots they are much too sacredly classical for mention in an undignified, everyday, news sheet. O, this is a cruel, cruel world, and will the other world be blyther? Nay, they tell us — not for the one-horse editor.”

Arthur E. Curren, the father of newspapers in Clovis, once remarked that the above editor, and his competitor, only lasted four weeks with his daily. It is a cruel, cruel world.

The late Mr. Curren also felt the wrath of some of his more critical readers.

In 1909 he reported in detail some of the troubles leading to the John Childers-Gus Von Elm shoot-out. What he wrote angered Childers, who, it was reported, already had five notches on his gun and was under indictment in another county for a killing.

Out for revenge, Childers’ first stop on his way to the fateful meeting with Von Elm was the Clovis News office to seek out the editor.

“Fortunately I was out!” exclaimed Curren. “His next stop was at Von Elm’s saloon, where after a few words they shot it out.”

Childers, shot three times, managed to get in his buggy and made it back to his saloon. There, on a pool table, he died.

Von Elm was wounded too, but survived. (A brief item going into more detail appears in the booklet “Clovis Remembered.”

In light of the foregoing I would like to suggest someone start a “Be Kind to Editors Week.”