It’s too bad we don’t have a video edition of the Marion County Record.
With a federal judge striking down the copyright claims to the “Happy Birthday” song this past week, the path was cleared for our staff to mark the 146th birthday of the Ol’ Thing with a rousing celebratory music video that surely would’ve gone viral.
Then again, given the snippets of song our staff occasionally break into while going about their work, perhaps we’re doing everyone a favor by instead doing what we do best, writing.
There’s a copy of that Sept. 24, 1869 inaugural edition around someplace, although you wouldn’t recognize it as ours; the first incarnation of the paper was called the Western News. While those on the East Coast were in panic mode that day over the “Black Friday” collapse of gold and stock prices, Marion folk were reading about, among other things, A. E. Case’s unusual 12-foot long blade of grass.
True to form, we started our 146th year with a story about “Gourdzilla,” a massive tangle of vines that may have flourished in bits of the same soil that spawned that bizarre strand of grass in 1869. Success in small town journalism evidently depends in part on having a fondness for vegetation run amuck.
After a short run as the Western Giant, we became the Marion County Record in 1871, but in 1882 began a run of nearly 62 years as the Marion Record. When the paper merged with a competitor in 1944, we became the Marion Record-Review. Once in awhile someone will call us that, even though we’ve been the Marion County Record since 1957 (coincidentally, the year I was born).
Whatever the name, for 146 years we’ve chronicled the news those in Marion and Marion County care about most: what’s happening here at home. Few businesses, and no other newspaper, can lay claim to having been part of the fabric of life in our local communities for so long.
That’s 146 years of gratitude we owe to our subscribers, advertisers, and readers. Both past and present, people have affirmed the value of what we do by investing in the Marion County Record.
We work hard to earn that support by giving you engaging stories and timely information you can’t and don’t get anywhere else. We’re here to celebrate with you the great things about life in Marion and Marion County, and to shed light on the not-so-great things so that you know what needs attention to get better.
We’ll continue with that proven mix in year 147, but there’s another tradition here that’s been around almost as long as the paper itself that deserves mention.
When E.W. Hoch bought the Marion County Record in 1874, he put a notice in the paper with this closing line: “I ask your encouragement and aid.” So do we, by welcoming your feedback when we see you on the street, and when you call or write. Good or bad, that’s what we use to get better. Feel free to let us know how we’re doing. Give us a call with a story idea. Those sorts of things help us create better papers, which is good for you and us both.
Happy birthday, Ol’ Thing, and may there be many, many more to come.
— David Colburn