Star Bloopers

My 12 years or so at the Canowindra Star newspaper (a little country paper)in the Sixties which came out weekly (some would say weakly) and which serviced Canowindra and surrounding villages like Cargo, Eugowra, Goolagong and Cudal (a combined population of about 2,500.)

The Star had a circulation of about 900 which was about 200 more than it should’ve had. When I took it over on lease from the owners Cowra Guardian who had bought it from the Uttings with Cyril Heinrich in charge, it was losing money mainly because it had a Managing Editor; an accountant, a journalist, a photographer and an office girl and a printer/compositor.

I had it printed by the Cowra Guardian at Cowra and I ran it with just myself (journalist, photographer, advertising) and an office girl who did the accounts. Cyril Heinrich decided to move to Sydney so I took over the paper. With less staff the Star made a lot of money. I had an army of paper boys who flooded the town after school. I would sell them the paper at wholesale rates and they would keep the proceeds and any tips. They made good money.

Why we had such a big circulation was because the paper boys were so keen. We would sell the old man a paper at work or down in the pub and sell another paper to the housewife at home. They put the paper into the pubs, the shops and anywhere else they could.

This brought us into conflict with the local newsagent who became annoyed at the paper being so widely available thus affecting his sales. He even threatened to discontinue selling the paper at his shop. I told him the Newsagent’s Association would tell
him he would have to sell ALL papers.

Anyway I told him we would sell the paper from a nearby toy shop if he carried out his threat. He backed off. After the paper was printed I would pick up the copies and dive at high speed the 20 mile or so to Canowindra dropping off papers at Billimari on the way. I remember some hair raising trips. Once when I looked in the rear view mirror to see the rubber from retreaded tyres streaming away at high speed.

Another was going through waist deep water when the road was flooded near the river. Another near death experience was after we had been to an Apex meeting at Cowra. It had been raining heavily. I had agreed to give the Lamond boys a lift home to their property at Billimari. I had asked them to give me a yell when we reached their gate.

They promptly went to sleep in the back of the car and I turned off to Billimari and then carried on down the road past their farm entrance and then on into the flooded Lachlan river which was running a bank at Merriganowry.

Luckily I spotted the river in full flood just in time and put the Austin A70 into reverse and rode the clutch until we were out of danger. Thank God for the quality of British engineering.

We made some classic “blues”in the paper over the years.

The worst was when the type got mixed up and we had a woman “hung in the RSL room instead of a photo of the Queen.

Then we had FOR SALE: two Kelpie Bitches also Mrs Joan ???

and then the Cowra Guardian in a war time story announced that the Navy was going to Sheet first and ask questions later.

Then it announced the contractor’s (Name) commencement of work on the new Cowra Hospital. “Residents will notice his big Derrick towering over the site”, the paper proclaimed.

Then there was the time when one of the compositors dropped a form (2 pages of type). The Star prospered.

During one Canowindra show week we ran a 70 page supplement about cars and machinery. Then we had the rights to the Canowindra show schedule of prizes which contained record advertising.

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