By: Paige Cline
Many years ago, about 1940 I think, then editor Charlie Dameron wrote in The Independent Herald a short, but interesting account of occurrences at the paper involving an innocent little dog.
Mary Jo Byrd, the little daughter of printer Walter Byrd, had adopted a little canine that had been roaming around town for some time.
One day while Mary Jo was visiting with her daddy, the dog wandered off in search of adventure. It soon became obvious that this was not an animal to be left alone for even a short time.
Now, the newspaper buildings of that day were much different than the offices today. The papers were run off on presses that applied black ink to the print which had been set by the linotypist or the stereotype operator. All the jobs were for skilled workers and they needed special equipment, special tools and special clothing.
In a very short period of time the mutt 1) chewed the fingers off the stereotypist’s special gloves, 2) fell into a pail of printer’s ink, 3) overturned it trying to get out, 4) chewed the corners off some very expensive bond paper and 5) made himself a bed in some high-dollar paper to rest his ink soaked body.
After a few days the dog disappeared for several months. Then, one day he returned.
No one knew where he had been. He was caught by the dog catcher. Being caught running loose was serious because at that time this section of the county was under a rabies quarantine. Back then the fear of rabies was such that people were scared of any dog that showed even the slightest hint that it might be rabid. The cry of “mad dog” was enough to send kids and grown-ups alike scurrying for the safety of their yards.
Well, that little guy was prepared to face a firing squad, but Mary Jo’s tears and pitiful young face got the dog a pardon and he was returned to his little owner.
The very next day he returned to the Independent Herald offices. He extended a friendly paw and and all his past sins were forgiven.
Five minutes later…a yell.
Ink was running on the floor from an overtured pail. Then a wail came from the stereotypist as he was holding up a pair of gloves with the fingers chewed off.
A search for the miscreant ensued.
He was found curled up sound asleep in a bed of paper. He was tracked to his bed by his ink-stained paw prints.
Still clutched in his teeth was the editor’s new five-dollar Christmas gift pipe. (Five-dollar pipes were rare back then since you could buy a good corncob pipe for fifty cents.
No, the little rascal wasn’t sent back to the dog catcher, but an agreement was reached whereby he stayed outside when Mr. Byrd was paid a visit by his daughter.
Not very exciting by today’s standards, but a source of entertainment for folks in an earlier, simpler time.
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