A history of The Aurora Press — Aurora's first newspaper

John Kudley
The masthead for the paper was hand drawn and never looked the same from issue to issue. Errors such as the wrong year and the misspelling of “Drive” were amusing aspects of the paper that attracted readers.

In 1774, Paul Revere road across the dusty roads of Massachusetts warning the countryside that the British were coming.

On April 6, 1789, the House of Representatives met to confirm the vote of the Electoral College electing George Washington the 1st President of the United States. It wasn’t until the afternoon of April 14 that Washington was informed by a hand-delivered letter that he had been elected.

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the American people sat by their radios and heard that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. The news of the attack had been transmitted to the states by telegraph.

On May 5, 1961, 45 million Americans watched the nation’s first manned flight into space when Alan Shepard rode “Freedom 7” on its 15-minute flight.

The manner and speed at which news traveled has varied greatly with the advances in technology. Today many Americans receive their news via cable television, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and online streaming services. While newspaper circulation has been on the decline over the last several decades the local hometown paper still plays a vital role in the community. The Aurora Advocate has been the major source of Aurora’s news since 1971. However, it is not the first newspaper that had kept the community informed about local events, sports, government action, socials outings, and the opinions of its editors and readers.

In 1938, The Aurora Weekly Herald hit the streets of Aurora. It was published by a group of young people. J.A. Truthan was editor and business manager while W.A. Hamann, B. Lyons, E.J. Truthan, Jr. and Fred Emery were reporters. Subscription rates were 2 cents per single copy and was available for 25 cents for three months. Advertising rates were 5 cents per column inch. The “Herald” was only published for a year and had a total of 63 regular subscribers. The paper covered a variety of areas. The “Social Chit-Chat” column kept readers up to date of who was visiting Aurora, when and where people were going on vacation, and who was throwing a party. The column called the “Collegiate Review” highlighted the achievements of local Aurora graduates as they ventured off to college. George B. Chapman was the center of focus for his picture printed in Life Magazine in an article about Princeton University. The “Herald” teased him about his “many expensive outfits.” It also had articles about Aurora’s history. The June 13, 1938 issue told the story of Aurora’s first marriage of Hulda Sheldon to Amiz Atwater of Mantua performed by her father Ebenezer in 1801.

When the Herald ceased publication, the community was not left without a paper. From mid-October 1940 through March 1942 another group of young people took on the job of informing the Aurora community. Led by 10-year-old editor David Klinger and assisted by Bill Lyons and Bobby Morrison, the boys published The Aurora Press. Bill Edmiston was the “Aurora Reporter” while Peter Klinger was the “Allotment Reporter.” The boys printed the paper on a hand-cranked mimeograph machine obtained by the Klinger’s father who was a cartoonist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and who helped with the typing and art work. Their mother, who was also a cartoonist helped with the typing. The Aurora Press was published weekly. According to David Klinger, they “did the first one on a lark, typed it on a stencil and ran it off on Dad’s hand-cranked mimeograph machine. When we passed out free copies people said keep it up, so we did.”

Printed on yellow paper that the elder Klinger got from the Plain Dealer the boys published the newspaper selling it for 1 cent per issue, which later went to 2 cents.

The Aurora Press covered a wide variety of community news. The first one page issue cover the meeting of the P.T.A, a three-car accident in Solon, the football team's loss to Stow, that the Apthorpes played bridge with the Bishops and that Paul Lytle was “in bed with a sore back.” When World War II started the boys urged the community to “Join the Red Cross and do your share in helping the women and children over in war torn Europe.” Coverage of Aurora’s City Council and the mayor’s traffic court, marriages and deaths, parties, high school events, and the activities of Aurora’s college students were routinely part of the paper.

The boys depended upon advertisement to pay for the publication of the paper. The ads are from the January 26, 1942 edition.

The boys depended upon local advertisers to offset the cost of materials. The ads were hand drawn and the boys wrote the copy. Many of you older Aurorans may remember Shillings Hardware where you could buy “clocks” and “tools,” Treat Lumber & Coal where “good wood,” was sold, Niman’s garage where “good work” was done, and “Booewsingur’s (Boosinger’s) where you could buy ice cream, have lunch and bowl.

According to David Klinger, one of the reasons the paper was so popular was because of the many misspelled words and names. The hand-drawn ads, youthful viewpoints and opinions added to the attraction that many had for the paper.

10-year-old David Klinger wrote an editorial for each issue of the paper reflecting on what he believed were the vital issues that the community should be concerned about. The editorial is from the November 17, 1941 edition.

Publication of The Aurora Press came to an end in February 1942 when the boy’s father, Bill Klinger, was called back into the Army. The paper was now without its typist, art director and publisher. War time shortages of paper also played a role in the ability to produce the paper. In addition, Dave Klinger wrote that he “also got very involved in the Boy Scout program and I am sure that, without a ‘push’ from Dad, I quickly lost interest in a weekly project like the Aurora Press.”

Writers Note: This is the first article of two that tells the history of Aurora’s community newspapers. The next article will focus on The Listening Post, a paper that was published by a group of civic minded volunteers who sought “to promote a spirit of friendliness and cooperation among the people of our community.”