‘It was the community’s newspaper’

Published 5:48 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bos Vining recalls working with Seth Jr. at Bulletin
Editor’s note: To celebrate its 83rd birthday, the Bulletin is taking a look back at how the newspaper has been printed since its first issue on Jan. 31, 1928. This week’s article focuses on memories shared by Bos Vining, whose husband, Seth Vining Jr., ran the Bulletin from 1951 to 1989. Bos also worked at the Bulletin from 1965-1989. Seth Vining Jr. died in October 2008.

A lot has changed at the Bulletin since the front page included news, obituaries, birth announcements and information about who recently moved to town.
Seth Vining Jr. and his wife, Marjorie “Bos” Vining, ran the paper with six employees. Seth wore several hats at the paper, including reporter, salesman, typesetter and foreman. Bos was in charge of subscriptions, billing and collecting.
Seth Vining Jr. moved back to Tryon a few years after graduating from Duke University in 1948. He met and married Marjorie “Bos” Boswell in Washington, D.C., in 1950 and they moved to Tryon in 1951for Seth Jr. to help his father and Bulletin founder Seth Vining Sr.
Bos graduated from the University of Maryland and was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Seth was working in Washington, D.C. as chief file clerk in the United States House of Representatives when they met.
Both generations of the Vinings had a philosophy they lived by while running the world’s smallest daily newspaper, which was to “try to get the good news.”
Seth Vining Jr. once said that you really don’t need a paper if it’s for bad news because everybody has already heard the bad news before you could get the paper out.
Seth and Bos Vining ran the paper for decades, with Seth joining his father in 1951 and taking over as publisher when his father retired in 1976. He was named editor of the paper in 1968 and ran the paper until his retirement in 1989.
Bos Vining began working at the paper in 1965 after staying home to raise their five children.
Seth and Bos carried on the Bulletin’s tradition of being the community’s newspaper.
Seth Vining Jr., who died in October 2008, said on a video about the paper’s history the Bulletin was never the Vining’s paper (see videos of the Vinings at www.tryondailybulletin.com).
“It really wasn’t our paper as much as it was the community’s newspaper,” Seth Vining Jr. said. “I feel like most people felt like it was their paper.”
In Seth and Bos Vining’s days, subscribers could get the paper five days a week for $7.21 per year. A double page ad (two full pages) cost an advertiser $168. Most of the copy was what residents sent in about local happenings.
According to Bos, the Vinings didn’t always own the former Tryon Bank building, where the newspaper is now located. She said the front area used to be the Western Union office and there were two realtors who shared the main floor, including Mr. Hester, who then owned the building, as well as the building next door. The bank’s vault is still located in the office Mr. Hester occupied. Bos Vining said they never were able to open the safe inside the vault. The safe has still not been opened.
The paper now utilizes all three floors, but the Vinings had the press in the back on the main floor and all employees worked toward the back of the building with other businesses up front. At one time, Elbert Arledge also had a print shop in the rear of the main floor.
In all the years Seth and Bos Vining ran the paper, they never took a vacation, Bos said, and they were still in the office many nights until 10 or 11 p.m. The Bulletin was closed only on New Year’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Bos said they printed even when everyone else was snowed in.
“We were here at 11 at night and never locked the doors,” Bos  said. “And we never bought anything unless we had cash for it.”
Bos also said their largest paper of the week then was the Thursday paper, which they printed on Wednesday.
The decision to change the size of the paper from the earlier small brochure size to the current 8.5-by-11-inch size was made because of advertising, according to Bos. She said ad agencies for advertisers such as car dealerships started sending the Bulletin the same ads they also sent to the large newspapers. The Bulletin would take those ads and fold them to run in the paper as fold-outs. When those large advertisements were in the paper, those pages wouldn’t be cut.
“The problem was solved and the Bulletin has been and is still ‘the world’s smallest daily newspaper,’” said Bos.
Seth Jr. used to speak of the paper often not having money and at times when nobody had money, he used to trade subscriptions for produce.
“We took anything you had we thought we could use,” Seth Jr. once said. “You certainly don’t get rich at it, but it does serve a community service.”
Bos said she remembers one time when her father-in-law, Seth Sr., still published the paper, a man asked if they would trade a subscription for a chicken. Seth Vining Sr. told the man if he’d kill it he would trade.
Bos said the curb reporter was much different in those days than it is today. The curb reporter started out as news bits and was also done last to get the latest scoops around town. The curb reporter was created by either Seth Sr. or Seth Jr., who used to walk up and down the street asking people what was going on. Sometimes national headlines made the curb reporter. Sometimes it might just be something in a business window that the Vinings thought readers should notice. Crime and fire news might also make the curb reporter.
Bos also said something else they used to do was interview new people who moved to Tryon.
People would come into town and the Vinings would find out where they came from and other information about them to write for an article to introduce them to the community. The Vinings also used to mail the paper to students off at college and over the years mailed many papers to local soldiers stationed overseas.
Bos also shared memories of all the sporting events they used to attend. One of Seth Jr.’s biggest loves was sports. He played football and basketball for Tryon High School and later played football for Duke University.
Bos said Seth Jr. went to every local game and used to write articles about the football games by detailing what happened quarter by quarter. Seth Jr. also covered all the town and county meetings.
Bos said she remembers twice when the paper received threats of lawsuits. She said one involved a print-ready advertisement they ran for a local dress shop that did not include the trademark symbol for the logo, “ultra-suede-like” suit.
She said they received a letter from a New York attorney and after going back to the manager at the dress shop, she found out that the exact same ad had run in three other newspapers, including the Spartanburg Herald, and the Bulletin was the only to receive a lawsuit threat. The suit was later dropped.
Another threat came when the paper ran a recipe sent in by a resident for a popsicle. The paper was contacted by Popsicle, which said they couldn’t use the company’s copyrighted name.
Bos said the paper never used to write editorials from the editor or publisher. She said Seth Jr. didn’t believe the publisher should ever write their opinion. In all Seth Vining Jr.’s years, he only wrote one editorial, which was in support of Tryon High School’s head football coach, Elmo Neal.
“I think the town is much better because of the Bulletin being here and taking part in the community,” Seth Vining Jr. once said, “and that to me is the satisfaction for doing it.”
Seth and Bos Vining continued to be a part of the community even after they sold the paper to Jeff and Helen Byrd in 1989. They did some traveling after retirement, but rarely missed a Tryon Town Council or Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting for many years, as well as being involved in many other community activities.

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