Source: Lafayette Journal and Courier Fri 25 July 1986 p 19
– “Darlington Herald Pulled from the Brink” – Darlington – California isn’t so far when there’s a problem at home, as four former residents demonstrated in an effort to preserve this community’s newspaper history.
This Montgomery County community was the home of the Darlington Herald, a weekly newspaper regarded as Indiana’s best from 1926 to 1946 when it was published by Charles A. Marshall and his sister, Edith Weesner. The paper became famous for its meticulous writing and editing and the incredible detail in which community events were chronicled. “Anything anyone would want to know about Darlington in those years can be found in the pages of the Herald,” Fred Mullen said. The town hasn’t had a newspaper since the mid-1950s.
But there is – or was – a problem. The bound copies of The Herald in the Darlington Public Library were deteriorating and a valuable community resource was on the verge of disappearing. At that point, Darlington’s California connection moved into action with a campaign that has resulted in the microfilming of the Herald and the acquisition of a viewing machine for the library.
And, appropriately, the drive was waged on the rambling front porch of the gracious, 112-year-old Marshall home here.
Mullen, 68, a former Darlington resident who now lives in Santa Cruz, Calif, conducted what he calls a front porch campaign with a typewriter on a card table, where he wrote letters wheedling money and grants for the microfilm project. The campaign was developed by Mullen and two other rather famous Darlington natives – Louis W. Tribbet, 76 of San Bernardino and John A. Marshall, 54 of Glendale, Calif, the newspaper publisher’s son.
The three ex-Darlingtonites heard about the condition of the newspaper copies and decided to do something about it.
“You’ve got to understand that all three of us have a special feeling about the Darlington library. When each of us of different generations were growing up here, the library opened a big world through books that we never knew existed,” Mullen said.
Mullen, who is retired, told his friends he would go back and start a paper-saving campaign if he could figure out a place to stay.
“At that point, John Marshall handed me the keys to the old family home and told me to move in and use the house in any way I could to save those copies of the Herald,” Mullen said.
The publisher’s son John Marshall has a famous face for television watchers. For more than a dozen years he made commercials for national firms, once appearing in a TV Campaign for McDonald’s restaurants. Before making commercials, he conducted LA’s most popular TV children’s show and now he operates an alcoholic’s rehabilitation program for LA County.
Tribbet, a Purdue engineer graduate, became an internationally known aircraft structural designer, working on projects ranging from the Douglass DC-3 to space capsules. Tribbet helped Howard Hughes build the famed Spruce Goose, the WWII plywood flying boat and had an unusual relationship with the eccentric billionaire.
Mullen also had a fascinatingly varied career, ranging from television and movie producing to process engineering for General Motors Corp and worked with the Ford Foundation on educational TV projects. Mullen wound down his career in money-raising and as an institutional development consultant. “I’ve raised millions of dollars for hospital and universities, so the $1,500 we needed for the microfilm and viewing machine wasn’t all that big a chore,” he said.
The three Californians also got the blessings of a fourth famous native – Mike Gray, a movie scriptwriter and producer. Gray wrote the story line and shooting script for China Syndrome. Gray’s in England now, working up locations for a movie and couldn’t actively serve in the campaign. Besides producing one of the state’s finest newspapers, Herald publisher Charles Marshall also was an innovator in other areas of life, sometimes shocking Darlington.
In the 1920s he embraced the new form of men’s underwear we know as boxer shorts. The town was aghast when boxer shorts replaced longjohns and BVDs on his clothes lines. In 1934 he wore a pair of Bermuda shorts on a stroll from his home to the post office and was denounced from the pulpit of a local church. His newspaper was the first in the state to use an offset press.
The Indiana Historical Society came up with a grant to microfilm The Herald. A state newspaper preservation group also contributed money toward the project. By design, most of the money was raised outside the community, thus freeing local residents to support other library projects.