Escondido, CA


Two disparate subjects



I want to talk today about two somewhat disparate subjects: a brief history of ownership of the former Daily Times-Advocate and its weekly T-A forerunner; and an anecdote from a visit by a U.S. senator.

Times-Advocate Ownership

As it might be obvious, the Times- Advocate was a merger of two newspapers way back in the 1880s – when Escondido was a dusty village in the then back country of San Diego County. When Escondido incorporated as a city on Oct. 8, 1888, with an estimated population of 750 within the city limits, it was a town with a small cluster of buildings and houses – right out of the set of a Western movie. Its dirt “streets” were like the tracks of a well-plodded trail. But it had a railroad – for both passengers and freight – a link to Oceanside on the coast; a link that had begun operation Dec. 31, 1887. Our Hidden Valley hamlet was, in fact, a true Western town – without the cowboy violence; but a town with a bright future.

Perhaps the dominant feature in our new little town was the Escondido Seminary, which towered over the community on the then lonely hill that became the corner of Fourth Avenue and Hickory Street. The three-story, red-brick landmark, with a tower stretching another three stories, became Escondido High School. The seminary was a branch campus of the Methodist University of Southern California (USC). It was deeded to the Escondido School District in 1894.

Nearby, on another knoll, was the 100-room Escondido Hotel at what is now the intersection of Grand Avenue and Valley Boulevard, current site of Palomar Hospital’s downtown campus. The hotel, which became the social hub of the community, had opened for business in 1886 and operated until 1920. It was demolished in 1925.

As to the merger of what became the Times-Advocate, the weekly Escondido Advocate was founded in 1886, two years before Escondido incorporated. The weekly Escondido Times was founded in 1891. They were sold and merged into the weekly Times-Advocate in 1909. Percy Evans was the long-time owner of that early T-A, turning it into a daily newspaper (no Sunday).

As I have mentioned in a previous column, Evans sold the T-A in the mid-1940s to Bert McClintock, his son-in-law, and to Fred Speers (who had owned the newspaper in North Platte, Neb.), who bought the majority interest. The newspaper office and printing press were in the 200 block of East Grand Avenue at the time. Speers and McClintock moved the T-A to the 200 block of East Ohio Avenue (now Valley Parkway) when they had a new building constructed in 1953.

Jerene Appleby Harnish and her sons, Carlton and Andrew Appleby, arranged to buy the Times-Advocate in 1963 when they purchased Mc- Clintock’s minority interest, with an option to purchase Speers’s majority interest in 1965. They exercised that option, assuming total ownership, with Andrew becoming the publisher. Mrs. Harnish and her sons had owned the Ontario (Calif.) Daily Report, selling it to the Pomona Progress-Bulletin before buying the T-A. Andrew and his family had moved to Escondido in 1963, with Andrew becoming business and advertising manager. I was the T-A’s managing editor when Andrew took over as publisher in 1965. He retained me in that position.

Andrew became ill in July 1965, taking a leave of absence. His brother, Carlton, came to Escondido temporarily to take over as publisher until Andrew could return. But after several months, Andrew decided not to return, and Carl became the publisher and general manager of record, and moved permanently to Escondido. Carl Appleby promoted me to editor, with George Cordry becoming managing editor.

It was under Carl’s direction that the Times-Advocate became a recognized and respected newspaper statewide. He added a Sunday paper, making the T-A a true seven-day-a-week publication. He added staff in every department and instituted an employee profit-sharing plan. He converted the paper to morning delivery from afternoon delivery; and converted the printing process from “hot type” (the casting of lead ingots on a Linotype machine) to “cold-type” (photo-paper paste-up), a more efficient and safer method of operation. And he had a new and modern two-story office and plant constructed in the 200 block of East Pennsylvania Avenue, moving the operation there in February 1971.

Carl sold the T-A in 1978 to the Tribune Co. of Chicago, which ended local ownership of a newspaper that had lasted some 105 years. Tribune Co. continued to publish the T-A in Escondido until its total demise in the 1990s when it was sold to Howard Publications, which owned the Oceanside Blade-Tribune. Howard merged the Blade and the T-A into the North County Times, which continued to print an Escondido edition.

The death of any separate daily newspaper for Escondido came a few years ago when the San Diego Union- Tribune bought the North County Times, stopping local publication. The Union-Tribune since was bought by— yes — the Tribune Co. of Chicago, and now is the only daily newspaper in San Diego County.

* * *

Visit By a U. S. Senator

It was in 1970 and U.S. Sen. George Murphy, a former Hollywood movie actor, was running for re-election. Murphy, a Republican who never before had held a public office, had defeated the incumbent Pierre Salinger, a Democrat, in a surprise upset for the six-year term in 1964. Salinger had served only a short time as senator, having been appointed to the position that same year. Salinger, a former press secretary to President John Kennedy, was appointed by then California Gov. Pat Brown to fill the vacancy left by the death of Democrat Sen. Clair Engle.

Murphy was campaigning in San Diego County and had arranged to visit the Times-Advocate. I was T-A editor at the time. We met in my office, just the two of us, a small-town editor and a U.S. senator, albeit a politician on the campaign circuit. I closed both doors to my office; we had total privacy.

After all these years, I don’t recall one facet of our conversation – except for one lasting memory. Here he was, the senator doing most of the talking when suddenly – and certainly most unexpected – he drops the F-Bomb! Boom! And casually continues the conversation.

Now, I wasn’t shocked; I wasn’t stunned. But I was surprised. I had heard the word many times before and had even used it myself on occasions – but only among intimate male friends. And I was sure it was part of the senator’s vocabulary. But what surprised me was that here I was a total stranger to the senator. Our meeting was amicable, but he had no idea about my demeanor or how I might react to perhaps the ultimate word in profanity. (I didn’t interrupt his conversation.) Perhaps it was his way of showing me that he was “one of the boys.”

Murphy was defeated in the general election by Democrat John Tunney.

One other note: George Murphy was the only U.S. senator to visit the Times-Advocate during my 27-year career with the newspaper.


Ron Kenney was a reporter and editor for the former Daily Times-Advocate from 1952 to 1979 and was a copy editor on the pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune from 1985 to 1997.

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