Mustangs prove they’re Number 1

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

It was great to see Newell-Fonda girls, one of the great basketball success stories over the past 30 years or so, bring the state championship trophy home Saturday night. They showed why they were ranked #1 for most of the season with their convincing win over West Hancock in the title game.

Of course, The Storm Lake Times’ own Jamie Knapp was on hand to record the big event from Wells Fargo Arena. Jamie is the dean of western Iowa sports editors, in his 28th year covering high school and college sports throughout Buena Vista County. Every May, high school graduates’ memory books are filled with stories and photos of the students’ athletic achievements recorded by Jamie. He’s been around so long that now he’s covering the kids of athletes he reported on years ago. He’s probably attended 90% of the home basketball games of Storm Lake and St. Mary’s high schools in that period. And he’s been to every Storm Lake High School and Buena Vista home football game in that span. I can’t imagine anyone who can match that record. Great work, Jamie!

When our daughter Bridget was a young girl, I took her to Newell one summer day for a 4-H meeting at the school. She asked me, “Dad, why is Newell-Fonda so good at sports?” We passed a driveway where a whole bunch of kids were playing basketball. “That’s why,” I said, pointing to the kids shooting hoops in July.

IN THE OLD DAYS during the basketball tournament, a popular gathering place was Babe’s restaurant in downtown Des Moines. It was a big joint, run by a big man, Babe Bisignano, who walked around visiting with the guests in his Italian restaurant. It was a big deal if he’d stop by and sit at your table for a minute.

Another stop after the games on Saturday nights was the Register and Tribune, a big historic building on the corner of Seventh and Locust. The giant press, a half block long and two stories tall, was located on the ground floor, visible through sidewalk-to-ceiling plate glass windows. You could watch the paper fly through the press, then screech to a halt as the pressmen rushed to install new plates to reflect the latest tournament scores. Then just as quickly as the press had stopped, it would roar to life again with the updated news. People lined the sidewalk in the evening watching the excitement unfold inside.

The Register and Tribune building at Seventh and Locust in Des Moines.

I believe the Register published three daily editions and five on Sunday. The first edition was called the Bulldog, which came out about 8 p.m. and was what we in the outer reaches received as trucks fanned out across the state from Des Moines, no matter what the weather. Subsequent editions reflected updated news and sports as the night wore on. The Final came out around 3 a.m. As soon as the Register was printed, a new crew of pressmen would get ready to put out the Tribune, the afternoon paper that came out around 1 p.m. We received it in Storm Lake around 4 p.m. and I delivered it from Lake Avenue on the east to Ontario on the west. The agency office was located in a cramped basement under Osweiler’s (if I recall correctly), with entry from the alley. I also carried the Sunday Register, whose bundles were left in the wee hours Sunday morning on the corner where Sliefert Funeral Home is, Geneseo and West Third streets. A lot of people in Storm Lake, including the Cullen family, took both Des Moines papers as well as the Sioux City Journal, which carried the late sports scores from the west coast, which Dad wanted. This would be around 1960, decades before ESPN and cable news.

When I was a young reporter I witnessed the production of the Sunday Register one Saturday night. The excitement was just like in the movies! There were dozens of people inserting the many sections by hand upstairs as trucks lined up at the loading docks on the street. I remember one man whose job was to make sure the heavy metal cylindrical printing plates, which passed by him on a trolley, were headed to the right press unit in the basement. He had a long stick with a marker on the end, and he’d write what page number that plate was. If I wasn’t hooked on the excitement of the newspaper business before then, I was that night.

Since the Register moved in 2013 to a new location a few blocks away, the old R&T building has been converted to apartments and the press has moved outside the city, south of the airport.