Newspapers through the years.
Newspaper history.
Grand Rapids Herald.
Godwin Newspapers
Southkent News
South Kent County News

- Newspapers through the years -

Until perhaps the early 1970s, local papers of all sizes kept communities aware of the goings on in their own areas. Akin to local news at the smallest scale, they served an area bigger than, say, a school paper, but smaller than a typical city newspaper, often supplementing the larger papers. In the earliest days, they provided photographs in a day before television of things in one's own neighborhood. They were yet another mechanism for cohesiveness in a day when local businesses were run by families who lived in the same neighborhoods they served, and the papers provided a way for local merchants to alert local customers about sales, new merchandise, store hours, etc., and supplemented back fence and telephone word of mouth.

In year 2005 most of these kinds of papers seem quaint, where they still exist at all. Stores and restaurants that would have advertised in them, and the families that operated them, are mostly long gone, the victims of chain stores and restaurants. Those in turn advertise on TV and radio, something the truly local merchants were never able to afford to do. A Godwin graduate of the early 1960s and before would find the landscape in Home Acres, Burton Heights, and even around Godwin, quite unfamiliar in year 2005. Dick's Galley ( later "Dick's Fine Foods" ) closed up in about May, 2005, and was one of the last familiar names around Godwin still operating.

The usual litany of pizza, chicken, and hamburger establishments now line Division Avenue between 28th and 54th Streets in year 2005, but few to none of the names that would have been familiar in the early 1960s and before. Where photographs of the older businesses can be located, they will be included in section "L".

- A Brief History of Grand Rapids Newspapers -

A brief history of Grand Rapids newspapers shows the convoluted path taken by many newspapers. Many newspapers were created over the years, sold many times, and merged with other papers. The two big newspapers that finally resulted, the Grand Rapids Herald, and the Grand Rapids Press, both began in the early 1890s, and were the last two papers of any size to survive in to the 1950s.

The Grand Rapids Herald folded in about 1960. At that time, the Grand Rapids Press was a city institution. As a newspaper delivery person in 1958, I witnessed that about 97% of the households subscribed to the Grand Rapids Press. In year 2007 it is perhaps one household in three. There are many ways to get the news today. TV. Radio. Magazines. And the Internet. The print medium simply seems too slow for today's world. Electronic means have global reach, and are dynamic, allowing those interested to follow news stories in real time. The Internet takes this a step further, and, in the form of blogs, allows individuals to generate their own news and views, also with a global reach. The role of the traditional newspaper is uncertain, as is its fate. A few large newspapers have Internet accessible versions, and to some extent provide the kinds of coverage and analysis expected from a traditional news source. Whether this will provide enough interest and revenue to keep them going is an open question.

- Grand Rapids Herald -

Now defunct, the Grand Rapids Herald was long a source of early news in Grand Rapids, and depended on carriers willing to get up at 4:30 or 5 o'clock in the morning to deliver them. A truly cold proposition in the mid winter months.

The newspaper piece below, from 1944, shows, Godwin students had come of the Herald paper routes over the years. Pictured are Robert Jay Bolthouse, class of 1943, and Victor Sloan, class of 1945.

- Grand Rapids Press -

Left click on the image below for a larger version.

A little GR Press history. It's not easy to discern from the piece just when the name "GR Press" finally solidified.

- Godwin newspapers -

In 1933 there was "The Godwin High School News," a school newspaper that had a full size newspaper format. A few issues of this still exist. Alas, they are hard to scan on a home scanner, so for now they're are out of reach for use on the web site. The paper was threatened by Great Depression financial pressures on the school, and it is not clear for just how long it was published.

The item above is from the November 10, 1933, issue of "The Godwin High News,' and provided for scanning by LeRoy Rockwell, class of 1959.

See also Godwin News from October 9, 1935,, February 21, 1936, and undated selections about faculty. It seems like there was more interest in school administrative and faculty issues in the 1930s papers.

Representative samples of various Godwin newspapers are shown below, in part to illustrate student issues and fads over time, over and above those embodied by fashion. The school newspaper apparently changed names many times over the years. It was "Godwin News" for much of the 1930s and early 1940s, "Live Wire" in the late 1940s, "Wolverine Pictorial" in the early 1960s, and "Godwin at a Glance" in the early 1970s. Anyone know any other names, or whether the paper has actually been published every year since, say, 1935?

More sections of school papers are scattered throughout the individual class sections. The hope is that more collections will be offered for scanning by class members. If the school had an archive of school papers, it is likely that as of year 2005 they are gone.

First page of the May 29, 1946, Godwin News

Left click on the image for a larger version.

( Material provided by Lee Neugent, class of 1948. )

First page of the May 2, 1947, Godwin News

Left click on the image for a larger version.

( Material provided by Lee Neugent, class of 1948. )

Just why the name of the school paper was changed from "Godwin News" to "Live Wire" is unclear. Godwin News was the name back to the mid 1930s at least. The only explanation given is that students were bored with the old name.

A year 2008 Godwin school paper, the "Godwin Gazette" shows some of what the "Godwin's Past" web site is used for. See the piece at the bottom of the page.

Left click on the image for a larger version.

Material supplied by LeRoy Rockwell, class of 1959.

- Southkent News -

Southkent News history.

Left click on an image for a larger version.

Material provided by Lillian Annis, class of 1941.

Founded in 1930, the archives of the Southkent News would be a valuable addition to the history of the area in year 1930. The same would have been true of the Photo Reporter. True to its name, each issue contained photographs of some aspect of an area which included Godwin and the businesses around it. Ernest Blett started many newspapers, ending with the Southkent News, which was manyage by Robert Blett, class of 1940, after Ernest's retirement. The Photo Reporter was operated by Ray Blett, class of 1934.

The disposition of the Photo Reporter archieves is not completely known. One family member believes that some of them were transferred to a local historian. It would be of great interest now to know who has them, if they still exist.

The Photo Reporter and the Southkent news were not the kind of item that people typically saved, so it's mildly remarkable that any did. Bob Ferguson, class of 1955, provides the issues and pages from issues below. The Christmas issues were a good summary of good summary of the businesses around the godwin area, and are available for 1957 and 1958. Most of the businesses mentioned are now long gone.

Photo Reporter - 1957

May 23

September 26

December 5

December 12

December 23

Photo Reporter - 1958

July 17

September 4

December 11

December 24

Photo Reporter - 1960

May 12

July 21

- South Kent County News -

The South Kent County News was a conglomeration of several earlier local papers. Whether it later became the Southkent News is not clear just now. The image below is from a 1941 copy of the paper.

The South Kent County News building in 1933

Left click on the image below for a larger version.

A photo from the December 15, 1933, issue of "The Godwin High News," showing the South Kent County News building. Said to be at 23 Sunnyside SE, in Home Acres, it is not clear in year 2006 just where that was. In 1943 many street names were changed, and that appears to include Sunnyside. The new name is not known at present.