The newspaper that is the forerunner of this one began publication in 1926. The Ruralite, which was started by E.E. Brown, grandfather of Sylva Herald Sports Editor Carey Phillips, was sold in 1943 to Curtis Russ and Marion Bridges, and The Sylva Herald and Ruralite’s first issue came out on Aug. 4, 1943. J.A. Gray, father of current Herald owner Jim Gray, bought the paper in 1944.
Many issues of The Ruralite are available on microfilm. This week, I came across a copy of the Tuesday, April 21, 1936, Ruralite. Published almost exactly 10 years after the paper’s founding, that particular issue is not part of The Ruralite’s microfilmed archives.
At that time, The Ruralite’s masthead proclaimed it “An Advertising Medium of Exceptional Merit.”
Here’s a glimpse of the information contained in Vol. X No. 9.
That week’s newspaper included national and state news briefs, each with a small headline, such as Funeral planned for Louis McHenry Howe, “secretary and friend of President Roosevelt”; fire destroys 17 buildings in Lenoir; and “James A. Farley Friday interpreted the results of recent primaries as indicating a ‘tremendous Roosevelt sweep in November.’”
Stories on the front page 82 years ago were mostly local: “Lookout Tower Is Built on Toxaway Mtn.” with a subhead “Steel Tower 45 Feet High Erected by CCC Camp 66-P, Co. 3448”; “Registrars and Judges Named For June Primary”; “Highlights On The Life Of Clyde Jarrett”; “Plans Made To Erect New Building Here,” with subhead “Will Be Constructed On Site Of Old Sylva School Building”; “‘Not Only Profitable But Pleasant’ College Slogan”; “New Hotel Carolina To Open Soon”; and “Cotton Blossom Jubilee Will Be Presented Friday.”
Page 2 of that particular Ruralite includes a world news roundup and a Sunday school lesson titled “Jesus Looks at Wealth and Poverty,” with Luke 16:19-31 as the text.
On page 3, we find a long list of foreclosures and back taxes.
Local businesses advertising in that issue included the Jackson County Bank, Mashburn’s Shoe Shop, Hooper Motor Company, Jackson Furniture Company and Sylva Supply Company as a dealer for Knoxville Fertilizer Company. There were also several advertisements for particular products, including Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum and Quaker State motor oil. Telephone numbers were much simpler then: The Ruralite’s was 122; readers, at least those with telephones, could call Jackson Furniture at 128.
That week’s Page 6 was devoted to a serialized story, “Storm Music” by Dornford Yates.
The issue is a fascinating glimpse back into an earlier Jackson County. The new building that was to be constructed on the site of the old Sylva School is still standing. It housed the Golden Age Center, as the Senior Center was known before it moved into its current quarters off Webster Road, and is now home to the Community Table. The school referred to is the old Sylva Graded School, which remained in use until 1929 when a new elementary school was built near Sylva High School in what is now Mark Watson Park. According to The Ruralite’s 1936 story, the building was to be used as a clubhouse “for the use of the people of Sylva and the rest of Jackson County,” and it would be built with Works Progress Administration labor. The site for the building was donated by the Jackson County Board of Education.
Likely I’ll return to this interesting Ruralite issue in coming weeks, but to close out today’s installment, here’s the text that goes with that “not only profitable but pleasant” story, reproduced here with the original capitalization and punctuation intact:
“‘Not only profitable but pleasant’ is the watchword of the Western Carolina Teachers college for summer school this year.
“The college has arranged for a modern bus that will be used for educational as well as recreational trips. Both a botanist and a geologist will be available to direct the trips.
“Golf will be provided for at reasonable rates. Four tennis courts will be available. Swimming will be promoted. A person who is experienced in story telling has been engaged to conduct a ‘story hour’ in the evenings. Other minor forms of recreation will be provided.”
Lynn Hotaling was editor of The Sylva Herald for 18 years, retiring in January 2016. She is the author of two books on local history.