The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 21.


"Now Is the Time To Blow Your Horns for 'Old Valpo'"; It's a City All Who Call Home May Well Honor

Former Publisher of The Daily Vidette and First President of The Vidette-Messenger Company.

Pursuant to a request from the editor of THE VIDETTE-MESSENGER, I submit the following rambling remarks covering one-half of the one hundred year of the life of our beloved city.

In the space of the twenty-six years I was a part of the civic life of Valparaiso, there was one failing of which I was to my knowledge never charged -- namely, exploiting the comings and goings of the Mavity family. Therefore, I am sure the personal narrations of this paper will be forgotten or overlooked by my friends in Porter County.

Near by the time of the Century Celebration of the city's life, the Mavity's reached the half century mark in their marital relations.

In the collections of greetings on this occasion was one portraying a horse and buggy, representative of the mode of travel in the olden days. Our friend, however to make the representation complete should have written under this picture: "Apologies to Franklin and Jimmy."

The writer first came to Valparaiso early March 1880. I arrived on the Grand Trunk train about 10:00 o'clock at night. It was pouring rain and upon inquiry at the station I was told to follow the street to the left to its end and I could see the College buildings. I started on the way carrying one of the valises of that day. The receptacle being about as large as a small trunk. There were but few sidewalks and these few were board walks. Some of them were two planks nailed on cross ties with a choice specimen of mud and slush in the space between the boards.

I managed to get down to water Street (now Brown Avenue) and there the water was running some two or three feet deep. I back tracked to more solid ground and after about half an hour arrived at the College Building. A man carrying a lantern came along and I asked him about a place to stay for the night. He replied that he was returning from a check-up of the rooming houses and had found not vacancies. However he was in a short time going over to two places he had failed to visit. He told me to follow him into the office where I could wait until he came back. I followed him into the office and found H. B. Brown President at one desk and Miss Neva Axe, secretary, at another. Both desks still being loaded with the routine business of the day and now eleven o'clock at night.

I gave my name was told to wait till the man with the lantern returned, and that he would guide me to a room for the night. To return at 7:00 o'clock in the morning and I would be assigned to my permanent room for the term.

The man with the lantern returned to report that there was not a vacant room on the Hill and that I would have to go downtown to find a place. He also stated that he would take Miss Axe out to her conveyance to go for the night and then he would light me to Main street and I could find my way downtown. After the lantern man and Miss Axe left the room, Mr. Brown looked up from his tasks and I concluded that he discerned from my appearance that I was not hankering for another trudge carrying the valise and battling with the rain and mud. So he told me I could occupy the sofa in the office for the night -- so the lantern man was notified I would stay. Mr. Brown turned out the lights except the one over his desk and told me to arrange the pillows on the sofa to suit myself and hoped I would sleep well. He then went back to his desk and to work at hand. Despite the fatigue from an all-day's travel on the train and the tramp from the Grand Trunk I could not sleep, being attracted by what seemed the never-ceasing energy of the man at the desk. About one o'clock he retired to his private room. At 4:00 o'clock the next morning, I was awakened by a flash of light and I saw Mr. Brown at his desk again. At 5:00 o'clock he left to go to a class.

Before the second term of school was over, I was called home by the serious illness of my mother. During the vacation I was offered a position of janitor at Franklin College, with the chance to work my way through school. I accepted the offer and did not return to Valparaiso.

In September, 1903, I purchased the Daily Vidette and in October the same year, my family joined me and we have made out home here ever since. In getting back to Valparaiso, I found a good many people I had known in school days. These friends were mostly the same as twenty years before save the appearance of silver threads in the hair and the ease with which some of the girls had cut off the years from their ages. That is, they were from two to four years older than I in the school days but now from two to four years younger.

In recalling the incidents of Valparaiso life during the past fifty years, it is the natural thing for me to remember best those incidents connected with the life which I was a part. Of the ninety-four years of the Vidette's existence, I was the owner twenty-six years, a period longer than any other ownerships. When I took charge of the paper, the circulation was less than 200 with a payroll of $35.00 per week, while at the time of my retirement in 1929, the payroll was in excess of $500 per week and the subscription list approached the 4,000 mark. These twenty-six years cover a little more than one-fourth of the century we are celebrating. I was privileged to record during this time the comings and goings of our people, their hopes and aspirations. These records as a whole are of a nature reflecting credit upon the community and in which we may all feel proud.

Valparaiso had had no superior and few equal in the sterling qualities that provide the ideal environment of the typical American city of the first class. I could use columns of space to record the many phases of a cross-section of the Porter County people. However, the limitations of this paper gives room for but one.

We have in this county a specimen of that rarest product of the "Genus-Homo", a perfect man. A subscriber came into the office one morning in a belligerent mood and told the girl at the desk he wanted to see the boss. When I appeared he began a tirade of abuse and said, "He wanted his paper stopped and his money back." After he had become less violent in his language, it was found that his ire had been aroused by the receipt of a statement for back subscription for his paper which had been paid for only a few days before, for a whole year. We got the subscription list and found that the girl sending out the list of those in arrears had sent a statement in this man's name that should have been sent to another man of the same name, which account appeared in the next column on the list. I showed the complain a person in the course of years establishes a sort of standing reputation among the citizens within its environs. The status must be endured whether it is good or bad.

I located in Valparaiso because I was of the opinion at the time that it was a city having no superior as a place to rear a family, and but few equals. This opinion has been verified by thirty-three years of residence.

As is common knowledge since my retirement from business, with Mrs. Mavity, I have traveled over a considerable section of our country and found that Valparaiso is known in practically every city and hamlet, and is recognized by all as a city of the highest type.

I met a young man recently who asked what likely occurred but he would not be mollified so I gave him back his money. Then I asked him if he ever made a mistake. He emphatically replied that he never had and that mistakes were altogether unnecessary. I then and there decided that I had discovered a rare specimen of humanity. I then asked the disgruntled man if he was married. He answered, "Yes". When he turned to leave I told him I would be under lasting obligation to him if he would bring his wife into the office some day as I would like to see how a woman looked who had a husband who had never made a mistake.

The sequel: The man came back to the office within a few days and started the paper again, explaining that his wife could not get along without it.

In conclusion, as the preachers say, I might ask the question: Has Valparaiso as a community, so conducted itself that it is worthy to be continued as a civic center? I answer emphatically, without a single mental reservation. The answer is "Yes". The community as was born in Valparaiso and who was disgusted with his birthplace, using quite strong language in expressing his ideas about the city, I asked him why he continued to live here. He replied that he was going to leave as soon as he could arrange to do so. I told him that walking was good, but if he did not want to walk I would buy him a ticket to any city within a radius of one hundred miles that he name providing he left and never came back again. For Valparaiso has no place for a citizen of his kind. He has not accepted the offer, although no date of limitation was set for its acceptance.

Now is the time while the Centennial spirit is abroad to get out your horns and exhaust yourself blowing an overwhelming blast that what few hammers may be here will fall from listless hands and a restless tide of human energy will start us on a second century of greater importance than the one now drawing to a close.

I came very near forgetting about the phrase recited above "In conclusion" -- but I guess I got by about as soon as the average minister after all.

One the whole, Valparaiso has no apologies to make for its First Century and I have no doubt but the Second Century will be a worthy successor to the first.

A hip-hip and a hurrah! for old Valpo!

[Note: Some paragraphs in this column appear to be out of order.]

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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