The Bulletin of Molalla, 1972-1984
History of The Bulletin
By Iris Riley
I am an avid genealogy buff and history geek. Having served as president of the Molalla Area Historical Society (MAHS) since 2013, I have enjoyed researching both the history of the Molalla area and the families associated with the buildings at the Dibble House Museum Complex. The purpose of this column is to share stories and information about the history of our town, and keep our readers informed as to happenings at the museum.
Let us begin with the history of the original Molalla Bulletin which was published weekly from 1972-1984.
Molalla Printing & Graphics was a job printing company owned by Walter Carr and Dixie Wilkes originally in a former bowling alley located at 5th and Eckerd streets where the Moose Lodge is now. They provided some design services and printing for businesses, organizations, and individuals, such as flyers, business cards, business stationery (letterheads, envelopes, post cards), mailers, carbonless forms, invoices, estimate sheets, invitations, etc. – similar to Triangle Design and Print today. One could go there and order rubber stamps or notary seals.
Dixie and Walt decided to expand their business by offering a weekly publication with advertising and something interesting to read. They decided to distribute this “shopper” for free in local businesses, and especially grocery stores where customers were likely to see them on the end of the counter and pick one up. Dixie had formerly worked at the North Willamette News in Aurora and that publication was a “shopper”. She already had the know-how to put together a publication and how to sell advertising to support it. Walt had been operating printing presses for many years and knew what needed to be done on that end of the operation. He was also a good networker and advertising salesman.
The Bulletin was originally printed on 20# bond 8 1/2 x 14 colored paper, folded in half. The first issue covered local current events, and was offered through local stores in Molalla, Mulino, and Colton. Perhaps the bag boy would slip a copy in with your groceries.
As the theme of the publication – to gather and print stories of early pioneer families, and history of places and events – caught on, they decided to use a tabloid format and the printing was outsourced to The Silverton Appeal, which had its own printing plant with web presses to print newspapers and larger formats. Yellow paper was chosen to stand out from community newspapers. The paper was soon distributed free through local stores and cafés from Molalla to Woodburn and Silverton, from Colton to Estacada and Sandy, Mulino to Oregon City and Milwaukie, and was in great demand. Customers would call if they couldn’t find a copy on a newsstand. Back issues were also in demand for new customers. It seemed no one wanted to miss a single issue. Some people came to the office for extra copies to share with neighbors, relatives, and friends.
It was perfect timing. Nostalgia was popular, and many contributors had direct information of their grandparents’ lives, access to historic photos, and pride in their heritage. Molalla had always been a town with considerable knowledge of its Oregon Trail heritage, and almost all of the early families were connected by ties of blood and marriage. This environment made The Bulletin issues very popular with citizens – that, and it was free. Some out-of-town patrons subscribed to the weekly paper for a small price.
When the publishers had no local stories or photos to run, they used items from other nearby communities.
In 1973 Lois E. Helvey, a Molalla friend and former co-worker of Dixie’s was hired away from The Enterprise-Courier, a daily newspaper in Oregon City. They had met while working at the North Willamette News. Lois was named managing editor, but everyone there did a little of everything. At the time Walt had a young man helping him with the press operations and bindery.
A few years later Molalla Printing & Graphics and The Bulletin moved to a building on South Molalla Avenue, formerly occupied by Wayne Oglesby’s TV sales and repair shop had been. The presses and all the materials and equipment involved were installed in the back room. Part of the back room was partitioned to make a darkroom for developing roll film and for processing photomechanical transfers for the paper and print jobs and for copying people’s old photos. In front was the office and reception. Between these two was a room for production. Typesetting and pasteup happened there. Light tables and areas for assembly filled the room. The move brought the operation closer to the advertisers and was more convenient for customers to find. It was easier for people who had stories and photos to share to stop in and drop off items for The Bulletin to copy.
Across the street The Spot tavern had very good pizzas. The Variety Store had candy and gum, and ice cream for a time. Slim’s Tavern, a couple doors down, had strawberry soda pop and little bags of chips. Newspapers have run on less.
After the first assistant printer left, Dale Glivinski was hired, fresh out of the Air Force. He had married a local girl, Cindy McDaniel. Dale was and is a wonderful photographer. He also learned to operate the printing equipment from Walt and became his new assistant. Salespeople were added. Paper carriers were hired. Dixie’s daughter, Kelly, worked for The Bulletin for a year or two or more with breaks to go pursue other employment.
A few regular locals hung out in the office, including Gene Lais, Sr., Mulino legend, Sid Gasser, and Coltonite, John Chelson. Many stories were told by these guys. They also offered friendly advice and tips and corrections in some cases. Some of the community felt the office was a cozy place to stop by for a short visit. It was so great to be accepted and loved, according to Lois E. Helvey Ray.
Sadly, in 1984 times had changed, trends had changed, Dixie had left the business many years earlier, and the business came to an end. Walt had found a great job with Pendleton Woolen Mills in Milwaukie as their in-house press operator. A sale to a West Linn area owner had not worked out so well, and The Bulletin became faded into its own history.
Many people carefully stored their copies and later their heirs would donate neatly packaged stacks of the papers to the MAHS who has three complete sets of indexed Bulletins. That’s around 620 issues, available in the museum library for research and reference, as well as a set in the Triangle Printing and Design office.
In recent years volunteers have carefully indexed the issues so that researchers can more easily find an article or photo in the paper that they wish to see.
Walt passed away many years ago. Dale Glivinski went on to a long career in printing in Canby and Salem. Dixie moved to Central Oregon. Lois E. Ray went on to work at the Clackamas Review and later authored three books of local history with co-author Judith Sanders Chapman. Oddly enough, she reports, while doing research on all three books, she had people suggest she look in the old Bulletins for information and pictures. Some of her contacts hadn’t realized she had served as managing editor for the paper for nine years. It is a publication people still remember fondly.