Celebrating 150 years of The Union: What’s your story? | TheUnion.com

Celebrating 150 years of The Union: What’s your story?

The Union photo/John Hart
John R. Hart | The Union

How’s this for breaking news?

Richard Trathen didn’t know he had been chosen to serve on the Grass Valley City Council until he read it in The Union over breakfast with his family.

That was in the early 1940s, however, and thanks to TheUnion.com and other Internet-based media, such news no longer waits to be delivered the next morning to your doorstep.

But that’s how Trathen, who later went on to become mayor, first learned of his new endeavor as Grass Valley city leader. Trathen had been appointed to a council seat the previous night, replacing a member who had resigned from the council mid-term.

Trathen’s daughter, Vivian, shared the story with her son while reminiscing on her earliest memories of The Union.

“She’ll be 88 on the 16th of this month,” said Vivian’s son, Rich Scofield. “She’s been reading (The Union) ever since she can remember, so … what, for 78 years?”

Scofield, himself, has quite a long history with The Union. He’s entered his 46th year as an employee here, where he serves as the day shift supervisor in The Union’s packaging department.

“It’s actually longer than that,” he said. “I started a paper route here in 1959.”

Of course, such connections with your community newspaper don’t hinge on having worked here. We know many of our readers, some who have been reading these pages as long as Vivian, have their own personal stories about their earliest memories with The Union. After all, if you’re a member of the western Nevada County community, it’s highly likely we’ve reported many of those milestone moments in your life, whether it was the announcement of your birth, your Little League baseball games or dance recitals, your high school or college graduation, your military service, your marriage, the birth of your own children — or grandchildren — who then kept you reading the paper to follow with pride their own milestone moments.

Or, perhaps, there’s even more to the story.

As The Union celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2014, we’re looking to share your connection to your community newspaper. We know many readers have clipped stories and photos for scrapbooks or tucked away special editions for keepsakes with hopes of sharing stories for our generations to come. What were stories that so moved you that you wanted to keep them forever?

We’ve got a few of those blazing banner headlines we’re planning to share in the very near future, revisiting moments in history that were first brought to western Nevada County on page one of The Union. Later this month, for example, we’ll look back 50 years at the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Thanks to a recent chat with Robert “Bob” Wyckoff, the paper’s first staff photographer, we’ll look at how The Union newsroom first learned of the shooting in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963, and how the paper delivered the devastating news to the community.

We’ll also be revisiting many of our local traditions, some that have gone by the wayside, like sledding down Grass Valley’s Main Street in heavy snow, and others still going strong today, such as the annual celebration of Cornish Christmas.

Over the summer, I had the pleasure of spending some time with one of our oldest readers, Manuel “Chick” Cicogni, who died one month short of his 100th birthday in September. Chick told me that his family had been subscribing to The Union since 1924, not all that long after his parents had emigrated here from Italy.

“Fact of the matter is my dad learned English from your paper; he learned to read from your paper,” Chick told me one day. “See, when we were in Gaston, where I was born, I spoke no English. My dad spoke no English — to speak of, you know.”

Chick also might very well be the reason The Union publishes a Sports section each day, though he wouldn’t take credit for it. Apparently, after reading several sports stories sprinkled on different pages throughout the paper, he came up with an idea.

“I just came about it … I read (sports stories) here and there and there; why can’t they just put it all together? So I wrote them a letter,” he said.

Two or three weeks later, The Union published its first Sports page.

What are the stories you want to share? We look forward to hearing all about them. Visit our new webpage dedicated to The Union’s 150th anniversary at http://www.TheUnion.com/150, where you share your stories or photos to join in the celebration of your community and the newspaper recording its history — one day a time.

Brian Hamilton is editor of The Union. His column is published Wednesdays. Contact him via email at bhamilton@theunion.com or by phone at 530-477-4249.

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