Our small town newspaper may have been the last of its kind. A main stay in the community, they not only circulated a weekly, rural chronicle, but their front office also sold Big Chief tablets, mod stationery, and mimeograph paper to the local populace. More than a mere publishing company, the Crosbyton Review was a reflection of our region’s three-thousand-residents and beyond.
When Mrs. Crouch’s second-grade class presented Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, our newspaper photographed the cast members. When the Girl Scouts gave a Father/Daughter banquet at the Bridwell Lodge, the Review documented the event. When Susie Stegall celebrated her ninth birthday, our publication represented her with a fourteen line write-up, including the names of every party attendee.
With a low crime rate, our periodical had plenty of room for a quarter-page spread of the high school’s bicentennial yule tree and a 5×7 picture of the oak Liberty Tree planted on a windy day in March. We didn’t need Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. The Crosbyton Review was our social media.
Every page evoked an emotion. Every photograph summoned a thought. Anxiety as UIL students advanced to regional, and delight when Marty Davis became Best Beau. Surprise when Linda Guy came of age (Lordy-Lordy-Look-Who’s-Forty!) and introspection when John Callihan turned ninety-eight. Pride when the Melody Misses entertained for a state banquet, and disappointment with the results of the stock-show. One week, we poured through photographs of all thirty-five contestants for the Miss Crosbyton title and then critiqued her finalists the next. We peeked through the lens of a black and white 35mm as Peggy Lockeby left for Japan, the seventh-grade selected their basketball squad, and bookkeepers counted the annual March of Dimes collection.
Whether we were aware of it or not, whether we liked it or not, we belonged to one another. Like a large, overbearing family with a few vexatious relations, everyone had a place. Each one knew the other’s business and deliberated over it with more opinion than truth. The So-And-So’s were lazy. The You-Know-Who’s were hot heads. The Such-and-Such brothers couldn’t plow a straight line if their life depended on it.
We had time for one another’s affairs because there really wasn’t anything else to do. We gossiped, grappled, grinned, and grimaced together just as our descendants had when they arrived on the South Plains together by wagon trail. Mistakes were etched with sharp tongues in stones of memorial…until a tragedy struck.
Disaster always dissolved the disadvantages of small town life. Faults of gossip, jealousy, and meanness were set aside during catastrophes of fire, wind, or time. Crisis displayed our finest hours. A hospitalization article meant we raked a yard. A Caesarean announcement meant we baked a cake. An obituary section meant we ached alongside. When the days were darkest, we proved our bonds extended beyond blood, our reliability exceeded outside relations, and our allegiance expanded above ancestry.
The Review didn’t create our sense of community. It simply reflected the kinesthesia of kinship already in existence. I’m proud to hail from a small town and I have dozens of faded newspaper clippings to prove it.