BARBWIRE BOB – 2-1-24

I’m a newspaper reader, always have been. Living on that far N.W. Colorado ranch I loved to read the local newspaper that was delivered by the rural carrier once a week. In high school I started watching the used car ads, knowing that I really needed to get a car to drive to town and to school. My first car was a 1951 Ford six-cylinder sedan.

BY BOB SWEENEY

Enrolling in Colorado A&M in 1955 to become a veterinarian, as a freshman, I read the daily Fort Collins Coloradoan and the student Collegian newspaper. Sometimes I would write a letter to the editor.

Pre-vet school wasn’t that hard, but after my freshman year I changed majors. I had doctored animals, pulled calves, nursed lambs with a milk bottle, rubbed liniment on horses, and decided that if I wanted a career in medicine, I would rather become a medical doctor and take care of people. My interests had shifted to writing and journalism. 

As a senior I took a creative writing class where we had to write short stories, I loved the class and wrote some “duzy” short stories that were published in the Prism literary student magazine. Meeting more of the literary students, a half-dozen colleagues and myself, decided to start a student humor magazine patterned after The Picker, a very successful humor magazine published by depraved engineering students at the Colorado School of Mines.

The bold engineers crafted a rather naughty, but clever view of campus life with cartoons and jokes. Four of us organized a magazine staff with an editor, writers, and a cartoonist. I was assigned to sell advertising. I had no idea how to accomplish the task but volunteered for the assignment.

I went to work calling on Ft. Collins merchants near the campus. Low and behold, in several week I sold several thousand dollars of ads, enough to pay for the printing the first edition of the new Ramshorn off -campus magazine. Our devious editor and cohorts featured a coed swimsuit centerfold, cartoons, and jokes.  The magazine was a huge success, and we produced several more editions before we all graduated. I still have several editions somewhere among my college history books that I cherish. 

After the first magazine appeared, we were called to the newly named Colorado State University dean of student’s office by Dr. Bates who cautioned us on content. He was cordial, but firm, in his lecture. It was my first encounter with “freedom of press” issue and censorship. It was the beginning of my long publishing career.

As I headed off to military service and my friends departed to their careers, we relinquished the magazine to some interested under classmen who never had the inspiration, guts, or talent to continue the publication. The Colorado School of Mines Picker carried on for years, present history unknown, but presently have a  great football team. 

The printed word is a powerful sword for entertainment, politics, business, religion, social events, obituaries, and sports, to name some of the virtues of ink on paper. The printed word will never die. 

I still race out to my driveway every morning to pick up the Denver Post that arrives at irregular intervals, but always welcome. My weekly newspapers come on different days, subject to the volume of mail sorted by the mail carriers. 

Be thankful that any newspaper, located anywhere, is a work of dedication and perseverance by the owners and staff. Since the days of Ben Franklin, newspapers have been the backbone of American public information, served in many ways, styles, and objectivity.

Thank you for being a newspaper reader and hopefully a subscriber. Smile when your newspaper arrives, it is part of our American heritage, culture, and freedom of the press. Dean Bates might be pleased. 

There aren’t many of us left.