Mild-Mannered Reporter

And I thought </I>Itemizer</i> was a weird sounding name

When my wife needed a job 11 years ago, I called all my friends in the newspaper business.

I eventually stumbled across a part-time sports writing job at the Itemizer-Observer. I excitedly told me wife about it.

"The Polk County...whazzit?"

Itemizer-Observer, I said.

She just grimaced. "I don't want a job at an insurance company."

The newspaper got even with her for that remark.

Virginia spent most of the past decade working for the Itemizer-Observer. Like most employees, she often explained to outsiders that, no, we are not an insurance company.

Not an accounting firm.

Not a tax service.

Not a Chinese restaurant.

(Go figure that one out.)

Most of us rarely identify the newspaper when we call outside the county. We just say we represent "the newspaper in Polk County."

It saves everyone a lot of time and confusion.

You have to admit that "Itemizer" is a weird name for a newspaper.

Back in the late 1800s, the Polk County Itemizer featured a naked cherub on its nameplate.

The winged creature sat on a barstool with a pen in one chubby little hand and a ledger in the other. When the paper merged with the Observer, the cherub lost his job.

No one knows what happened to him.

This was before television, so job opportunities for journalists who liked to flit about naked were severely limited.

Rumor has it he grew up to be either Ernest Borgnine or Wilford Brimley.

In any event, the name Itemizer survived. I once found it vaguely annoying. Now I rather like it. It has a nice, old-fashioned charm.

So long as we keep naked images of Ernest Borgnine off the front page, it deserves an honored space in Polk County culture.

Besides, there are stranger names for newspapers.

A guy just applied for a reporting job here with a resume that included a stint at the Unterrified Democrat in Linn, Mo.

Of course, that begs the question. Is there a Terrified Democrat somewhere in Missouri?

I immediately started scanning the Internet.

I found no Terrified Democrat. However, having come from Iowa, I know finding any Democrat is difficult. The plus side is that if you find one -- and he's still alive -- odds are he's terrified.

By the way, the Unterrified Democrat can't be all that unterrified. It's a Republican newspaper.

Maybe the paper went up against the Republican Rustler in Wyoming.

The good folks of De Queen, Ark., agonized over a name for their community newspaper. The finally came up with...what else?

De Queen Bee.

The town was actually named for Jan de Goeijen, a Dutch coffee merchant. His name was pronounced "duh hoy yen," but townspeople found that too much a mouthful.

They changed his name to De Queen. Bet that caused some problems when his kids hit middle school.

People in Laramie, Wyo., pick up the Daily Boomerang.

This is a great name. If you have ever worked for a newspaper, you know how the things you throw out there have a tendency to come back at you.

A pioneer named Bill Nye actually came up with the name. It refers to his mule which often tried to follow him into bars.

Even though he shooed the mule away, it always returned like a boomerang.

To this day, the Daily Boomerang features a sketch of Bill Nye's mule as its emblem. Beats a naked cherub, I guess.

I always loved the name Daily Planet (before it became a brothel in Australia). The Daily Planet actually exists as a newspaper in Telluride, Colo.

The folks in Metropolis, Ill., renamed their weekly paper the Metropolis Planet. It used to be the Metropolis Promulgator.

Smart move.

Other great newspaper names include the Fairplay Flume, Solid Muldoon, Tombstone Epitaph, West Virginia Hillbilly, Hereford Brand, Carlisle Mosquito, Manchester Cricket, Blowing Rocket, Tundra Drums, Nome Nugget and Birmingham Eccentric.

Two papers are actually called the Jimplecute -- one in Jefferson, Texas, and the other in Spring Place, Ga.

The name is an acronym for Join Industry, Manufacturing, Planting, Labor, Energy and Capital in Unity Together Everlasting.

Itemizer is looking better all the time.


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