“Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”— Wayne Dyer (1940 – 2015), American self-help author and motivational speaker.
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“So, your mom was in the newspaper business and earned the nickname, Inky,” someone who knew my mother remarked last week. “I guess you just followed your mother’s path. Doing something both of you obviously enjoyed?”
“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” I laughed. “I spent five years getting a four-year degree to do something I soon learned was not what I wanted to do the rest of my life. But at that time, working for a newspaper was the farthest thing from my mind.
“But you’re right about one thing,” I told them. “I can honestly say that despite taking a diverse path to get there, there’s nothing I might have done that I can imagine having enjoyed more.”
My mother’s newspaper years at the Mount Pleasant Tribune were best chronicled by another Tribune employee and one of her good friends, Ida Burnett.
In the August 12, 1984, Mount Pleasant (Texas) Tribune story bearing her byline, Miss Ida wrote, “Since 1967 when Inky Aldridge started working for the Tribune, she has seen the paper distribution increase from five carriers to 29 routes in 1984 and grow into the computer age.”
“When I came to work,” the story of her retiring began, “it was to help out because Hazel Palmer (first of three generations of Palmer family Tribune ownership) was out of the office so much with her husband who was sick at the at time. The office was in a building at the present location of the new jail.”
As a side note, the “new jail” obviously built sometime after 1967, is at 304 S. Van Buren. The Tribune, after 50 years and four locations, is currently located at 202 S. Van Buren, just a block north of where it was in 1967.
“I was one of about eight or ten employees,” the Tribune story continues, “and I did just whatever they asked me to do,” she said. “I gathered information for the Police Record from police, sheriff, etc. worked classifieds, took news, hospital notes, obituaries, weddings, club news as well as worked in the circulation department,” she recalled.
OK, let me add another side note here … a job at the local community newspaper today has not changed one iota in 50 years. Still the same.
Mom recounted people she worked with. “, “Mozelle Rhea worked in classifieds and was a reporter, Amy Flowers was in production, and Joyce Lane was a typist. “Her husband, Leon, moon-lighted,” Burnett’s story continued, “and came in to do the mail at night, tie bundles and some of the time, carried the paper to the printer in Gladewater.
“In 1968, The Tribune was moved to its present location, 111 East Second Street, and I remember helping with that move,” Mom said. “The whole setup was in what is now the front office. The building was the former Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant the Palmers bought from Otis McMinn. There was also a barber shop where R.B. Palmer (second generation of Palmer family ownership) now has a private office.
“The (building) space included the upstairs where the Odd Fellows met years ago before they built their place on the Texarkana Highway. The business grew, and Nortex Press was formed in 1973. The newspaper operation eventually filled the entire building which was remodeled several times in the process,” she said.
“I have been in the circulation department and have seen the addition of a circulation manager and finally going to a computer several years ago,” Mom continued. “There is also a route manager now. It’s a big business … circulation is over 6.000 on Sundays now.”
“I have enjoyed my work, and working with (everyone), but it is time now to quit and retire from the newspaper work,” Mom concluded.
“Mrs. Aldridge is leaving in the middle of a larger expansion to better facilities,” said R. B. Palmer. “(We) appreciate her loyal work through the years. Employees such as Inky made possible, our growth.
“We wish her and Leon the very best,” he added.
“After 17-years with The Tribune, Inky is retiring from one kind of employment to another,” the story continued. “She and husband, Leon, will be working together for Parker Craft and Evonne Originals. This job will be an entirely different pace for them. Leon was assistant manager for many years at Gibson’s that was later Howard’s.”
“Inky’s name is really Indianola,” Burnett’s story concluded. “And she has had the nickname ‘Inky’ since childhood. However, the nickname has proven fitting for one in the newspaper profession.”
Near the end of the story, Miss Ida quoted me. “I have often credited my newspaper career to Morris Craig at The Monitor in Naples for hiring me and showing me the rewards of small-town newspapering. But to my mother, I owe credit for sharing the sense of accomplishment and reward she felt (working) for a community newspaper a long time before I ever considered working a newspaper job.”
Thoughts and smiles raced as I re-read that story last week. In June of this year, Mom would have been 100. Nearing 40 years after that story about her was written and a little more than 12 years since she’s been gone, I can think of little to add about doing the same thing that brought her joy.”
Maybe just, “Amen, Mom.”
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, the Alpine Avalanche, The Fort Stockton Pioneer, and The Monitor in Naples.
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