Bert Adams: The Monthly News (TMN): Small Beginnings - Growing
When I was 8 and my brother, Will, was 10, we wanted to start our own newspaper.
It was 1940, and we lived in Wayne, Pennsylvania, a town of 3,000 people lying among
rolling hills, fourteen miles west of Philadelphia. Straddling Lancaster Pike – also known as
Lincoln Highway and U.S.30 – Wayne was on the “Main Line,” and Will and I enjoyed living
there and going to Radnor school.
Three miles from our house on North Wayne Avenue was a huge plot of land belonging
to the Waltons. Our folks told us that when Charles Walton died, his 90-room house was
boarded up. It looked to Will and me like it must be haunted! Charles’ son Tom, a jovial, easy-
going man, and his family lived in what had formerly been the servants’ quarters – a 22-room
house at the top of a long, steep hill. On snowy days, the children of Wayne would sled on
Walton’s hill, often making it out onto the frozen lake at the bottom – and then dragging our
sleds back to the top. Later we were told that Tom’s daughter Winifred had married John B.
Stetson, Jr., of the Stetson Company. The Waltons were not the only family in Wayne that
seemed to have a lot of money.
In our classes at school, Will and I were friends with Joe Dorsaneo, Al Constantine, and
Anna Moffo. We also were friends with Emery Saunders, Seth Brown, Henry Welborn and
other black kids. At the time Wayne’s sports hero was Emlen Tunnell, a powerful running back
who went on to become a Hall of Fame professional football player.
Wayne had a movie theatre, where Will and I would go on Saturday afternoon (for a
dime) to see the Serial, the cartoons, and the cowboy movie – Tom Mix, Tex Ritter, Roy
Rogers, or the Lone Ranger. Then we would go home to play cowboys and indians before the
feature film, which often had people kissing each other (Yuk!)
Will’s and my father, Dr. William W. Adams, taught Greek New Testament at Eastern
Baptist Seminary on City Line Road in Philadelphia. He had moved with mother to Wayne in
1925, as one of the original faculty members. On weekdays Dad would walk a block and climb
onto the “Paoli Local” of the Pennsylvania Railroad and read the paper on his way to Overbrook
station. Will was born in 1929 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (our parents were visiting their families
there) and I was born in Wayne 1932.
Three other seminary families – the Maxwells, Jamesons, and Elmores - also lived in
Wayne. The Maxwells lived a block north of us, on North Wayne Avenue. They arose to
garden at 4:30 each summer morning, and went to bed at 8:30 PM. The Jamesons, like the
Maxwells, had no children. Neither of the Jamesons had ever learned to cook, so they ate
all their meals at Wayne’s only classy restaurant, Espenshades. The Elmores, living on nearby
Walnut Avenue, had a son Robert, who was an internationally-known organist in Philadelphia.
The Elmore family called each other by names from “Winnie-the-Pooh,” with Mrs. Elmore –
who had a long face and a deep voice – being called Eeyore.
In 1940, Wayne and the nation were still trying to recover from the Great Depression.
Dad hadn’t suffered, and had a good salary of about $435 a month. I remember seeing him
write a check for $225 each month, and send it back to his family in Shelby County, Alabama.
Much of the solution to the U.S.’s economic woes had been accomplished by President Franklin
Roosevelt’s government programs. But the final recovery stage was the economic boom
resulting from the Second World War. On the East Coast many families, including mine, had
blackout shades we could pull in case of an air attack by Germany. My folks were also
concerned about u-boats thought to be patrolling the entrance to the Delaware River, south of
Will and I, as school children, were always busy: reading, playing baseball, basketball,
football, indoor games and practicing on the piano. But the summer of 1940 our ambition was
to start a newspaper. We drew up the plan, with Will deciding what sections the paper would
have, and started to work. After about a week the rough draft was finished, ready for printing.
But printing was too expensive. Our only hope was to type it.
After working long hours at the typewriter, one copy was finished. By persistence and
hard work we typed two more copies, but by that time the paper was two weeks old and its
news was out of date. School would begin soon, so Will and I decided to let the paper rest
until the next summer.
When summer came again Will and I started our paper with fresh interest. However,
the final result was the same as the first year: before we could type enough copies to sell, the
news was, again, stale.
The third summer, being much older, we were more determined. We talked to some
other children in the neighborhood, and soon had an Art Editor (Ann Beatty, who lived next
door and was in my school class), which meant we could add a comic page. When the paper
was about half ready, Will received a telephone call one night. It was Mrs. Delany, the mother
of two of the neighbor children. She was working in the mimeograph department of A. B. Dick
printing company, and offered to have 50 copies of our paper mimeographed.
Will and I were so excited we slept little that night, but set to work typing stencils.
When the finished product was mimeographed and ready to sell, we could hardly believe
that our dream and ambition of several years had at last been realized.
And so The Monthly News (TMN) was born!
After Mrs. Delany mimeographed the September and October, 1942, editions, our
parents saw to it that the November and December copies were also run off. Then they bought
us a used mimeograph machine for $25, along with ink and stencils. (See note at end.)
Will and I continued the newspaper on an (almost) monthly basis. Beginning with
January, 1943, we felt the paper should pay its own way. We tramped around Wayne,
talking to businesses, such as the Main Line Diner, Restwell Tourist Home, and George Park of
Park Hardware, about placing ads – at $.50 a column inch. The response was so positive that
the paper paid for itself from then on. In fact, we soon had a surplus of $.17.
By the summer of 1943, TMN had a paid subscription list of 140. In September,
1943, Will and I, now 14 and 11, published an eight-page “Big Anniversay Edition.”
(Unfortunately, that’s the way we spelled it!) We were looking forward eagerly to the
As TMN started its second year, Dad continued as the News Editor, writing in each
edition about the progress of the Second World War and other news. Nell (known as Tig)
Walton, our aunt from New Holland, Pennsylvania, became the Art Editor when Ann Beatty
moved away. From the beginning, Will was Editor-in-Chief, and I was Sports Editor. TMN
appeared regularly for 3 ½ years, and by the time it closed in January, 1946 - when our family
moved to Kansas City - TMN had 250 subscribers in 32 states and 11 foreign countries, many
being armed forces personnel serving overseas.
Note by Will Adams, older brother: Starting in January 1943 TMN was published by Harriet E. Weed, who ran a mimeograph service above offices of the Suburban and Wayne Times. I think she cut the stencils, but I’m not sure. We didn’t get the open cylinder mimeograph machine until we moved to Beech Tree Lane in spring 1944. At that time we cut our own stencils and did our own mimeographing. Incidentally, I had the mimeograph machine and some stencils in my possession until the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991. The next year I became aware of a group of Russians seeking printing capabilities for some of the new groups which sprang up in Russia, and I donated the machine and stencils to them. I never heard where it ended up.