"FROM THE EDITOR"
This month marks the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of THE BEE. We are told that it is the second oldest neighborhood newspaper in the Portland region, behind only the St. Johns Review, which at one time was co-owned with this newspaper.
We asked our neighborhood history writer, Eileen Fitzsimons, to prepare a four-page commemorative retrospective to note this anniversary, and you will find it in the center of the printed version issue.
For you, online reader, we have posted all four pages of this special keepsake section, in the form of four large "Adobe Acrobat" PDF documents, for opening and reading or for downloading, at the top of the page at our former website, www.ReadTheBee.com. The files are large, so be patient in allowing them time to load!
Rather than simply to celebrate ourselves, we instead chose in it to celebrate the history of the area we serve, Inner Southeast Portland, using the records of THE BEE, which are available to the public on microfilm at the Sellwood Branch Library of the Multnomah County Library system, at S.E. Bidwell and 13th in Sellwood.
THE BEE has at one time or another also been called the Sellwood Bee (it has not been called that in over two decades, but a lot of people still call us that) and also the Sellwood-Moreland Bee. For a few months early in its history, it was actually known as the Milwaukie Bee! But you'll have to read Eileen's retrospective to find out how that happened! Until the mid-1990's, THE BEE was a weekly, paid-circulation newspaper.
Although from the beginning the newspaper served several neighborhoods, there is no denying that at the time of its founding, and for much of the 80 years that followed, the newspaper was headquartered in the Sellwood neighborhood--and many readers who have been with us for some time remember that for most of the time during the era when Tom and Marcia Pry owned the paper, THE BEE was headquartered on the southwest corner of the busy intersection of S.E. 13th and Tacoma Street, today the home of the Golden Heart alternative health center. (At its founding it was located at what was then enumerated as '546-1/2 Umatilla avenue'. The address does not correlate to today's street numbering system.)
Around 1991, the Prys moved this newspaper, and the others they owned, to a central office space just west of the main Portland Post Office on N.W. Hoyt Street. In 1994 they sold THE BEE to one of their staffmembers, Teresa Wood, who was faced with the almost impossible task of running a weekly paid newspaper virtually by herself. It proved too great a challenge, and the advertiser base and circulation both eroded. Teresa sold the paper again; the new owner struggled further, and then announced the paper would go out of business. That was its darkest hour.
At that point, a former Eastern-Washington newspaperman, now an educator in a private school in Southwest Portland, named John Dillin, offered $2,000 for the assets of THE BEE, and relaunched it as a free-distribution, monthly neighborhood newspaper, with an expanded area of service. This concept proved to be the formula the paper needed, and it rapidly became a successful source of local news and information for the area south of Powell and west of about S.E. 60th Avenue in Multnomah County.
With THE BEE as a monthly newspaper, Dillin could do most of the work himself, helped by the occasional salesperson, and with the design and production talents of Vivian Read; and with its free mail distribution, the paper circulated widely enough to gain sufficient advertising to pay for cost of the mailed distribution. This is the concept with which THE BEE continues to operate today.
When Dillin sold this newspaper to Community Newspapers Incorporated (also known as Pamplin Media Group) in 2000, and recommended the current editor replace him at the helm of THE BEE, he did not reveal to us what he sold the newspaper for, but he grinned broadly whenever the subject came up! Nonetheless, there is no denying he earned every penny he made thereby, through his hard work of taking on an historic but essentially defunct newspaper, and reviving it to again become the most thorough and complete media source serving Inner Southeast Portland.
THE BEE remains basically a one-person enterprise, as your editor operates it from a room in his house, with the able help of several freelance writers whose bylines you have come to know, and with the assistance of our advertisers--many of whom have been in these pages for years. It is produced with the design and composing talents of Kell Dockham at Community Newspapers, with the mentoring of our publisher Brian Monihan, with the assistance of the press crew at the Gresham Outlook led by Blake Jensen, and with the distribution arranged by the CNI circulation department headed by Kevin Hohnbaum--all under the leadership of Pamplin Media Group's President, Steve Clark.
Speaking of advertisers, we got a glimpse of the front page of the first BEEs when Eileen Fitzsimons sent us a couple of photocopies from the first issues, and we were struck that at that time the newspaper seemed to have more in common with the newspapers the circulated in colonial America than those today, in at least one respect: There was advertising all over the front page; and in fact, the advertising was mixed with the editorial content in a most unnerving way.
The first column, top left, of each front page then was headlined 'Sellwood Locals'. Here are the first seven items from the November 10, 1906, column--and you will have to figure out for yourself which ones were paid for, since there was no indication in the column!
'Miss Della Taylor was on the sick list a few days last week.
'A full line of magazines direct from New York at Hemstock's Pharmacy.
'M.H. Myers was initiated into Blackmar Circle, ladies of the G.A.R., Tuesday evening.
'Dressmaking and plain sewing promptly and neatly done. 1926 11th St. Phone Sellwood 365.
'Blacksmith Vorpahl is on the mend after a long and serious illness. He is able to sit up, and his entire recovery is only a question of time.
'James Roberts, the barber, sold his residence property on Sherrett avenue this week. O.H. Wallberg handled the deal.
'A.H. Richmond of 654 Tenino is a new Bee subscriber. The gentleman was formerly county surveyor and is a prominent citizen.'
There were also several display ads on the right side of the front page, starting at the top with one for 'Canfield's, Zerngiebel Bldg., Sellwood: Dry Goods, Notions, Men's Furnishings'. (Men's overalls cost 50 cents and up.)
Today, of course, there are no ads on page one, and we take great pains to completely separate the editorial content from the advertising content--the one is not permitted to influence the other in any way. The credibility of the newspaper is at stake, for surely the only reason for you to read THE BEE is your confidence in the credibility of the information we bring you here.
One advertiser may be a constant, however. When we became editor of the paper six years ago, the manager at Portland Memorial told us that as far as they can tell, they have run an ad in every single issue of THE BEE since its inception. We cannot confirm it, but if that is true, Portland Memorial may have a potential entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, because we would be surprised if there is another business in the entire country which can boast that it has run an ad in every issue of the same newspaper for 100 years! (They have an ad in the anniversary section this issue, too.)
At this point, let us thank you for your readership and your support, and metaphorically take up our pen (it's actually a computer) to begin our second century of diligently covering the events of Inner Southeast Portland!