Like many early Texas towns and counties, Bonham and Fannin County had fairly long history of newspapers as publications arose, then faded away or were absorbed by rivals. The first was paper in the area probably was the Western Argus, which started up in 1846. During the Civil War, the Bonham News provided accounts of the Lee-Peacock Feud that erupted in the Four Corners where Fannin, Grayson, Collin, and Hunt counties meet. The News continued in one form or another, usually as an adjunct weekly to the Favorite until 1976. Sometime in the 1880s, a Clarksville doctor, J.M. Terry, moved to Bonham and soon started a newspaper, the Weekly Fannin Favorite.
This early Favorite, went through a number of owners, stockholders, publishers and editors during the next few years before emerging as The Bonham Favorite in 1910. The carousel of owners continued through the next three decades. In 1954, Aubrey McAlister bought the paper, now called The Bonham Daily Favorite, and continued to operate and publish it until 1976, the longest tenure of any previous owner. In 1956, he added the bi-weekly the Bonham Herald to the mix.
Following the McAlister era, the paper several owners and publishers and in the end, the paper had gone from six-day-a-week daily to a weekly publication called just the Bonham Favorite. In January 2003, the paper closed its doors and passed into history, and archives, and memories.
My memories of the The Bonham Daily Favorite were from the years it was owned and published by Aubrey McAlister. While staying busy gathering and publishing the news, the Favorite had times for things the New York Times or the Dallas Morning News never contemplated even on their best day.
The newspaper was two doors north of Cunningham, Cole & Southerland, Lawyers, on Center Street, just south of the square in Bonham. The venerable Judge H. A. Cunningham had retired in 1955, and while Cole and Southerland stayed busy, they still found time to hatch plots against the sanity of their good friend Lee Morrow, whose Chrysler automobile dealership was across the street. Once the conspirators enlisted McAlister in one of their plots and persuaded him to layout and print a fake front page of the Daily Favorite containing huge black headlines of some imaginary disaster that had befallen the country.
I only heard the story after the fact, so I don’t know all of the details, but may have involved a shooting war with Canada. They paid the paperboy to deliver the special one copy edition as usual, and then they all gathered in the law office to peer through the window and watch the reaction when Morrow learned the country had gone to war.
I suspect the paper was followed up by a call from Buster Cole urging Morrow to go out and look for spies or something equally imaginative. That was probably the only time the content of the Favorite was faked for a joke, but it demonstrated the flexibility of the small town press.
The fact that the local paper was a daily rather than a weekly was important. For me, it was small, but significant point of pride when I was away at college, to note that friends and classmates got their hometown papers only once a week, while mine, from a smaller community, came six days a week.
A daily also meant that the news of local events was timely, and not filtered by a week of gossip, speculation and rumor. A six-day paper also had plenty of room for the small things that people liked to read about—such as the box scores from the Little League games.
In my first starting role in Little League, I went three-for-three with a triple and two singles. My grandfather, a true baseball man as ever figured a batting average, cut out the story from the Daily Favorite and carried it around with him for weeks to show his friends. For a while, I got more press, in Leonard at least, than Mickey Mantle or Duke Snider.
The biggest part of the sport coverage was high school football. Bob Cantrell covered the Bonham Warriors, and as far as I knew, had always covered the Warriors. During most of the years I was reading the paper, Bonham football was ascendant and that made things easier. Spinning a lot of losses for the hometown fans must be hard.
Sometimes it seemed that the chosen headlines did not properly reflect the actual tenor of the game, but then I was prejudiced. One small town tradition was always honored however—get everyone’s name in print, some where, some how.
Cantrell did it with an all inclusive paragraph at the end of the story to the effect that “… good game also was turned in by ....” He would then list all the names on the roster he had not yet accounted for.
One of the Warrior stalwarts a few years before I got to high school was Talamage Moore, later the Fannin County sheriff. The name “T. Moore” became the usual ending for a Cantrell game story. For reasons unknown, the name continued to appear, long after Moore had graduated. Future scholars studying old issues of the Daily Favorite, will no doubt give pause and wonder, how one T. Moore, managed to play high school football for twelve years without the University Interscholastic League finding out about it.
I usually made the paper higher up in the story each week because I was the place kicker—straight ahead, toe meets pigskin, as God and Lou Groza (If you don’t know who Lou Groza was, look it up.) intended, none of that sidewinder imported stuff in those days—and I usually scored. Better for the teenage ego than a mention was being in a picture. I only made it once, but it was sweet.
As the lead man in the wall on a punt return, I creamed a Lewisville Farmer, turning him for a flip, and broke Roland Rainey on a dash to the end zone. For one whose athletic triumphs were more imagined than actually remembered, it is fixed in my head. It was the kind of hit brought forth ooooohs in the dark while watching the game films on Monday and required running the image back and forth several times for effect.
I cut the picture out of the paper and taped it to the mirror on the dresser in my room. It stayed on that mirror, yellowing and crumbling around the edges, until I sold the dresser when I moved back to Texas sixteen years ago.
I have still got the picture though, along with many others and articles and stories of football games and proms and so many of the things, so important at the time, that chronicle one’s school years. For the last two years I was in BHS, my mother carefully cut out or saved everything that related to me and my friends and my classmates—football programs, dance cards left in a coat pocket, a program from the football banquet, and newspaper stories, most from the Daily Favorite. On the day after graduation she presented me with a carefully constructed and annotated scrapbook.
So good-bye old Favorite and thanks for the memories.