Letter: The trying years of the 1930s

(Metro Creative)

To the Editor:

I enjoy Terry Woster’s articles in the Mitchell Republic. A few weeks ago, he reminisced about a time he worked for The Capital Journal, the local newspaper in Pierre owned by Bob Hipple.

Terry wrote about a conversation with Mr. Hipple regarding the trying years during the 1930s depression. Money was hard to come by, including the town folks and farmers/ranchers alike.

Mr. Hipple recalled the paper sometimes would barter a year’s subscription for whatever a patron had to offer — including a bushel of corn, a chicken or two, whatever, to keep the paper afloat and its employees paid.

My father, also a lifetime newsman, joined The Daily Republic in the early ‘30s as a “cub” reporter. What did a “cub” do? He spent much of his time at the railroad depot interviewing locals returning home, or passengers on their way down-the-line. Mainly human interest stories.


Other stories might include “Mary Jones took the bus to Sioux Falls to see her new grandbaby” or “Farmer Joe’s bull got out of the barn and visited the neighbor’s cows.” Hard news? Not really, but it put a smile on readers’ faces — a smile much appreciated during the ’30s.

The old Daily Republic was heated with a furnace that burned almost anything including coal, wood, scraps of paper, etc. Coal was hard to come by.

Tim, a farmer friend of my father, came in and mentioned he was running short of cash for the paper. The barter began: “Do you have a chicken or two?” “No, I don’t raise chickens.” “How about a ham or side of beef?” “No, I don’t raise anything except corn.”

Suddenly, the furnace came to mind. “OK, how about half a pickup load of corn cobs?”

Tim looked my father straight in the face and said, “Good Lord Ez, if I had a half a pickup load of cobs, I wouldn't need your newspaper.”

Bob Brady


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