Bert Adams: Will Adams: Teenaged Editor-in-Chief
The year he turned 13, my older brother Will grew from a stocky, round-
faced blond, 130-pounder, into a tall, thin as a rail, round-faced, blond, 130-
pounder. He grew eight inches in eight months that year. He would drag off to
Radnor School, in Wayne, Pennsylvania, come home, and lie on the bed and
grow. His energy was so low that our parents thought seriously about taking
him out of school for a few months. He played sports, but was one of the last
off the bench in the high school basketball games.
But that same year his major focus, with my encouragement, became The
Monthly News (TMN), with him as Editor-in-Chief. That meant he had to oversee
the entire production process. He had to get our Dad, W. W. Adams, to forget
about New Testament Greek and play the role of News Editor long enough to
write his latest thoughts on the world, especially the Second World War. It
meant getting me to stop playing sports, or my board game of All-Star Baseball,
and write about everything from cub scout games to the pros. It meant feeding
jokes and cartoon ideas to Aunt Tig, in Lancaster, so she could have Private
Smith and Mr. McDaffy ready for the next edition. It meant getting Mother to
make up a crossword puzzle, or write a feature column. And, most of all, it
meant going around Wayne to get George Park, of Park Hardware, C. N. Agnew,
real estate agent, Michael Pinto, the large Italian man with the small barber
shop, Miss Watson and Miss Love, piano teap-0chers, and others, to pay our not-
too-exorbitant rate for an advertisement.
So this would seem enough to keep us “out of mischief.” But we also
peddled the paper, first on the street, then through the mail, and finally with
the help of our circulation manager, Bob Breckenridge, Will’s school friend.
Granted, it was not expensive or hard to sell, but the fact remains, it had to be
sold. Circulation did not go from 50 copies to 250 during its 3 ½ years of life
without the hard work of the Editor-in-Chief and his staff.
Will had learned to touch-type in high school, and could produce several
stencils to mimeograph in a few hours on our corona typewriter. But there
were a few months that we simply could not complete TMN. Family vacations,
an editor not finishing his or her assignment, or an illness might “hold up
production.” For example, in February, 1943, we published the following
apology: “Please forgive us for getting the paper to you late this month. This
is because of the Editor, Sports Editor, and Circulation Manager all having had
the measles.” But from 1942 to 1946, TMN was a tried and true news source.
The two factors that eventually brought TMN to a close were 1) the
Adams family’s pending move from Pennsylvania to Kansas City, and 2) the
choice – with the agreement of his staff - of the Editor-in-Chief to publish
(rather than mimeograph) the January, 1946, copy. This edition was truly
beautiful, but depleted our rather meager cash reserves, bringing to a halt
“the little paper that could.” Not surprisingly, before long Will was asked to
become the editor of the Pantograph, his Wyandotte High School newspaper.
Staying “out of mischief.” however, deserves one further comment.
Even though Will and I were into the “newspaper business,” we were also hardly
mischiefless. Early on, we dug a hole under the fence of North Wayne Field, so
we could play ball anytime we wanted. Another time we hid a corner post box
in a sewer, not realizing – until called in by the Wayne police – that such
tampering is a federal offense. Finally, one pre-hallowe’en night, Will and I
went out back, around our garage, and climbed into Ann Beatty’s playhouse
to place a can of flour above the door, fastened to the door knob by a long
string, draped over the rafters. Next day, at Ann’s hallowe’en party, the flour
dumped on Eleanor Troth’s head when she went in the door. Ann was upset,
but her mother and our mother had a laugh, much to Will’s and my youthful
gratification. In other words, there was time and energy for much more than
school, sports, and TMN.