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Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: You think OUR editorial page is tough?

Editor’s Notebook: You think OUR editorial page is tough?

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Those who think the current Sun Gazette editorials in Arlington and Fairfax engage in gratuitous, excessive attacks against the powers that be (guilty!) clearly never were here in previous incarnations of the newspapers.

We’re positively nice these days compared to some of the editorials of decades ago.

Take, for instance, the editorial in the Aug. 19, 1976, edition of the Northern Virginia Sun, then owned by the late, great Herman Obermayer, who wrote the editorials and knew how to throw an elbow or two.


The editorial chastised the Arlington County Board for being “on the verge of making a fool of itself again” – this time, by considering an adoption of an obscenity ordinance designed to stop the proliferation of pornography in the country.

(“On the verge of making a fool of itself again.” I need to stash that away for use sometime down the road. You can never go wrong with a classic.)

Obermayer, known as “Obe” (“oh-bee”), owned the Northern Virginia Sun from the early 1960s to the late 1980s before cashing in by selling the paper. As the owner, publisher and editor, he didn’t need to consult with anybody about coverage. In the words of Frank Sinatra, he did it his way ….

ALSO IN THAT EDITION: The same edition (Aug. 19, 1976) of the Sun reports that the Virginia delegation headed to the Republican National Convention was bitterly divided between backers of President Ford and those of Ronald Reagan.

As the convention neared, there was no clear outcome in sight. In the end, Ford won the battle (gaining the nomination) but Reagan won the war (his rousing speech there helped tee him up for 1980, after which Ford became largely an after-thought in the political world).

SEEMS LIKE THE RIGHT CALL: Keeping on the theme of Aug. 19, let’s take the way-back machine to that date in 1961. (Was that really 60 years ago? Holy mackerel.)

That edition of the Sun reported that Arlington school officials “have decreed that no materials of the American Nazi Party be distributed to students.”

Not sure if this was just a pre-emptive announcement, or whether the small radical group, then based in Arlington, actually made a request for its materials to be passed out in class.

Either way, seems like the right call. (And people say I never agree with the decisions of school boards – just have to go back three generations …)

SOMETHING FISHY ON THIS FOOD SHOW: Also in the history file, this time from Aug. 18 (of 1986), it notes that on TV that night were “Valerie,” “Newhart,” “Kate & Allie” and “Frugal Gourmet.”

Even as a kid, watching that last show on PBS, I thought there was something, mmmmmm, off about “the Froog,” as Frugal Gourmet Jeff Smith was known to his acolytes. Among other things, he always seemed to treat his long-suffering sidekick Craig rudely.

Sometimes, instincts are right. It didn’t turn out well for the (now-deceased) Froog, and the guy who once was master of the PBS domain today has been exorcised completely from its history.

  • Scott McCaffrey
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