Utah’s First Female Editor: Louisa Green Richards and The Woman’s Exponent

by BAYLEE STEPHENSON

LuLu_Greene_Richards

Louisa Greene Richards was the first female editor in Utah. She served as the first editor of the Woman’s Exponent. Digital Collections, Utah State Historical Society.

The Woman’s Exponent carved a path for women, equality and woman suffrage in Utah through the assistance of two incredible editors. Emmeline B. Wells is probably the most notable editor to have worked for the publication, but had it not been for her predecessor, Louisa Greene Richards, the newspaper would not have existed. Richards, known fondly as Lula or Lulu, was born in 1849 as the eighth of thirteen children to Evan Greene and Susan Kent in Kanesville, Iowa. (Bennion, 2) Greene and Kent were first cousins by their mothers, who were the sisters of the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young. Richards relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, with her family in 1852 when Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers left Iowa. It was in Utah that she found her passion for writing. (Bennion, 2)

Richards had always enjoyed writing and had a knack for poetry. It is believed that her first poem was written when she was fourteen, with her first step into journalism happening at the age of twenty when she began editing the Smithfield Sunday School Gazette. That same year she made the decision to attend the University of Deseret, presently known as The University of Utah. (Bennion, 3) By late 1871 she had finished school and was in Salt Lake City inquiring about a teaching position. While there, she received a letter requesting that she return home due to a family illness. She didn’t have the funds for the journey and decided that she would stay up all night and write poetry in the hopes that she might be able to sell it to a publisher in exchange for the fare she needed to get to Smithfield. The next day she went to the Salt Lake Daily Herald to meet with the editor, Edward L. Sloan, to sell her poetry for the $7.50 she required. She was successful in her endeavor. (Romney, 262)

Richards made the journey back home to be with her family, which is where she received a letter from Sloan asking her if she would be interested in editing a paper for Mormon women that he would print on the Herald’s presses. (Bennion, 3) She had her reservations regarding the idea and wrote to Eliza R. Snow, the president of the Relief Society, the women’s organization within the church, to ask her if she could discuss the prospect of the newspaper with the president of the church, Brigham Young. Richards believed that if Young approved of the paper then she should pursue the opportunity of running the new publication. Young gave Richards a calling to serve a mission, which is a personal assignment to be done for the church for a designated time frame, as the editor of the paper. (Bennion, 3)

On April 9, 1872, Sloan sent a copy of the Daily Herald to every member of the Relief Society with an advertisement promoting the Woman’s Exponent and its first issue. It read, “…a proposed woman’s journal … will be found in the Herald this morning. A more extended notice of it is crowded out until to-morrow by a press of other matter.” The ad was in two spots on the third page, one announcing the new paper and another expanding on what the publication would be writing about and who its target audience would be. That ad elaborated on the Exponent’s mission to write to the women of the Relief Society and the goals it had set. The advertisement announced Richards would be the acting editor of the bi-monthly paper, which would release its first issue on May 1, 1872. Subscription costs were based on delivery frequency, ranging from $1.00 to $18.00.

Richards married shortly after she became the editor of the paper and during her time she had two daughters, both of whom died. She helped build and mold the publication into the successful female-centric paper remembered under the leadership of Emmeline Wells. Wells took over in 1877 when Richards stepped down to pursue being a wife and mother full time. (Bennion, 9) While her personal life changed, and grew during her tenure as editor, she never neglected the paper and prioritized its success. The paper focused on what mattered to women as well as what was going on within the news.

WomansExponent-Volume1-Number11-1872

The November 1, 1872, issue of the Woman’s Exponent featured the news that a Connecticut woman might be the first female to cast a ballot for the president of the United States. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Richards was unable to meet the release date of May 1, 1872, so the first issue of the paper published on June 1. It featured articles and information that Richards thought to be the most interesting and important to women at the time. The paper didn’t simply focus on matters of the home, or what could be considered the traditional normative role women typically took within society due to the religious influence. On page 4, an article titled “Our Position” delved into Richards’s intentions for the paper, which stated that the purpose was not to advocate for woman suffrage, “for it is enjoyed by women of this Territory.” Women in Utah had received the right to vote per a decision by the territorial legislature in 1870, years prior to the 19th amendment. This right was revoked by Congress in 1887, but was ultimately restored in 1895 upon it being written into the state constitution. (White)

The Exponent aimed to speak for many of the women within the state, knowing that there would be dissenting opinions. Richards knew that there was still much to be done for women’s rights, but she strived to reach the majority in the hope that the topics discussed and covered were those that were significant to the women of Salt Lake City. On page 5 of the first issue, an article titled “Woman’s Rights and Wrongs” examined the equality that women lacked in relation to their male counterparts. This article explained the hardships women faced in doing the same amount of work as a man and receiving only a portion of the pay, as well as addressing the issue that women have the right to do any job their desire regardless of gender should they be able to adequately perform. Whether Richards intended for the publication to speak on behalf of women, equality, and at times for woman suffrage, it did and it became a key player in advocating for women in Utah.

The first issue of the Exponent set the stage for what would come from Richards, and later her successor, Emmeline Wells. The front page of the publication began with an article titled “News and Views.” This article commanded the entire front page of the paper and disclosed the news and opinions of Utah, as well as what was happening nationwide. Topics discussed in this article included religion, politics, suffrage, and race. Richards didn’t shy away from discussing what she believed in and what she thought the women of Utah wanted to be reading. The bold approach she took in writing and editing the paper helped catalyze the publication into the success that it experienced during its 42-year lifespan. On page two of the first issue, there is an article written by Eliza R. Snow on “The Female Relief Society,” which became a regular column in the Exponent penned by Snow. It gave readers a summary of the happenings of the church at the time. Richards felt that providing women with insight into the church was important as most of her readers were members of the religion. She also felt that having this section written by the president of the relief society was important for the women consuming the material.

The articles seemed to mildly contradict in that the written purpose was not to advocate for equality, but the articles themselves did articulate the support and advancement of equal rights for women. Emmeline B. Wells, who was known for her work within the woman suffrage movement, became Richards’s successor when Richards chose to withdraw as editor. Under the new leadership of Wells, the publication began taking a stronger stance on equality and woman suffrage.

On August 1, 1872, the Exponent published an article titled, “Why Women Should Vote.” This article touched on the fact that while some women cared nothing for politics and would most likely not vote, women should still be able to participate in voting and the voting process. The article stated that it was an important part of our society and should not exclude half of the nation’s population, as women had well-informed opinions and deserved to have a voice within democracy and politics. This article was extremely well received because women in Utah already possessed the right to vote and it led to further articles regarding woman suffrage and equal rights.

For example, on October 1, 1872, there was an article titled “Lady Lawyers” that recognized the remarkable accomplishment of two women who were admitted and sworn into the bar to become attorneys-at-law in the state of Utah. And while it wasn’t their intention or desire to practice law, they understood the large impact this would have for women across the nation. The article acknowledged that just a few years prior to this event, women were often ridiculed for their pursuits. The article also addressed the right of a woman “to earn her living in any honorable career for which she has capacity.” Utah was a remarkably advanced state within the union at the time and encouraged women to pursue their aspirations and career goals.

The first few months of the Exponent under Richards’s leadership laid the foundation for this progressive paper. Just five years after she signed on to the project, she decided to remove herself as acting editor. On July 15, 1877, the final issue of the Woman’s Exponent crediting Richards was published. That issue continued to advocate for equal rights, provide updates on the LDS church, and share poetry. The issue also shows significance in that it sold ad space on the last page, which generated revenue and income for the publication. Throughout all the stories and articles published in this issue, there is no acknowledgement of Richards’s departure. In a following issue of the paper, dated August 1, 1877, Richards penned an article titled “Valedictory,” in which she bid the paper farewell and discussed her reasons for departing the Exponent. She made it clear in her message that she would not be losing contact with her readers, but would be communicating with them as a contributing writer for the Exponent. She noted that she was in good health, but her “head and eyes need recruiting.” She also wrote that she believed her time would be best spent dedicated to domestic duties. Richards was content to relinquish all claim to the Exponent, because she knew she would be leaving it in good hands. She ended her farewell by asking her “sisters old and young” to subscribe and write to the Exponent to make it “more interesting and successful in performing its mission.”

After retiring as the editor of the Woman’s Exponent, Richards turned to being a wife and mother full time, but she never stopped writing. Her poetry is what launched her into her career with the Exponent; her poetry is how she continued to express herself throughout her life. Richards published a few of her poems during her five-year run with the paper and afterward found herself publishing a book, Branches That Run Over the Wall. Richards spent her life dedicating her time to her family and her writing. Never forgetting who she was or what she believed in, and was never afraid to speak her mind in the effort of being an independent woman at a time when that wasn’t always fully embraced. Louisa Lula Greene Richards was the first female editor in Utah and became a respected public figure and advocate for women all over the state.

The Woman’s Exponent provided women with an outlet and a resource that wasn’t a common commodity at the time. The publication had a female editor, the first in the state and breached topics that were both helpful, informative, and at times controversial. Looking back at the many issues of the paper, it is obvious that these women were dealing with issues that are still prevalent today. We are still fighting for gender equality in many regards, we are still fighting to give women an independent voice and we are still fighting to break into male dominated industries. Utah was a unique place, where women held positions without it being perceived as a woman trying to take over a man’s role. These women were praised for their work and made strides in the fight for equality for women everywhere. The paper was so successful that it even spurred the conception of Exponent II, a quarterly publication launched to give feminist Mormon women a voice. (Sheldon) Women across Utah, especially within the Mormon community, have been deeply impacted by the Exponent and the work of Richards and Wells. Their efforts have resonated with women across generations for over 100 years and even led to the development of other publications. This progressive paper was created by women for women.

Baylee Stephenson graduated in May 2017 from The University of Utah with a degree in communication. She moved to New York City after graduating to pursue a career in product development and now resides in the city full-time.

Sources

Louisa L. Richards, Branches That Run Over the Wall: A Book of Mormon Poem and Other Writings. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Magazine Printing Company, 1904.

“Valedictory,” Woman’s Exponent, August 1, 1877, 36.

Woman’s Exponent, June 15, 1877, 25-32.

“Lady Lawyers,” Woman’s Exponent, October 1, 1872, 68.

“Why Women Should Vote,” Woman’s Exponent, August 1, 1872, 36.

“News and Views,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 1.

“Our Position,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 4.

Eliza R. Snow, “The Female Relief Society,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 2.

“Woman’s Rights and Wrongs,” Woman’s Exponent, June 1, 1872, 5.

“Woman’s Exponent,” Salt Lake Daily Herald, April 9, 1872, 3.

Bennion, Sherilyn Cox. “Lula Greene Richards: Utah’s First Woman Editor.” BYU Studies 21, no. 2 (1981): 1-14.

Romney, Thomas C. “Louisa Lula Greene Richards.” The Instructor (September 1950): 262-263.

Sheldon, Carrel Hilton. “Launching Exponent II.” Exponent II. http://bit.ly/2otlTLP

White, Jean Bickmore. “Women’s Suffrage in Utah,” Utah History to Go. http://bit.ly/2kWl4rr

 

 

 

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Florabel Muir, First Woman Reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune and Pioneer for Women in Journalism

by MADISAN HINKHOUSE

Florabel Muir was a pioneer for women in journalism, from being the first female reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune after getting her start at a lesser known Salt Lake paper called the Salt Lake Herald, to being the first woman to witness and report on an execution. In this analysis of the life and career of Muir, I will explore these implications and other aspects of her career in the world of journalism.

1950_BookMuir, born in 1900, grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She credited her upbringing for her ability to handle the “rough and tumble” side of journalism, meaning blood, fights and murder. Muir described Rock Springs as a mining town where rugged people had a better chance of survival, and most arguments were settled with fists. She was the youngest of eleven children. She wrote in her autobiography, Headline Happy, “Being a nonconformist from an early age, I developed a great strength of will to keep myself from being swamped by dos and don’ts from the rest of the family.” (Muir, 3)

The non-conformity began when Muir attended college at the University of Washington, where, following in the footsteps of her sisters, she studied to be a teacher. She went to work for the student newspaper to make extra money. This is where she was “bitten by the bug.” Muir writes about the time she spent as a teacher in rural Wyoming, but teaching was not what she wanted to do. (Muir, 3-4)

She made her way to Salt Lake City in search of a reporting job. Muir posed as an experienced reporter in an attempt to land a job. The language she learned while at the student publication helped her sound more experienced than she was. Even with this language and prior experience Muir worked odd jobs for nearly three months before getting a reporting job with the Salt Lake Herald. (Muir, 2-5)

Her career in professional news began in 1926 as a police reporter, according to an obituary published in Boxoffice in 1970. In her autobiography, Muir reflected on the hardships she faced being a woman in an industry dominated by males. She recalled when she got her start with the Herald: Women were not looked upon as proper instruments with which to get out the gutsier parts of the newspaper.” (Muir, 3) In this time, the 1920s and 1930s, editors allowed women to cover societal events and club pages. According to Muir, those beats bored the “bejesus” out of her. This boredom inspired her determination to cover murders, robberies and malfeasance with the boys. (Muir, 3; Boxoffice)

Although The Salt Lake Tribune was her first choice, it had never had a female reporter and the editor, Forest Lowry, had no intention of hiring one. Eventually Francis Matson, editor of the Salt Lake Herald, gave Muir a job covering the City and County Building. (Muir, 3-5)

In regard to landing the job, Muir wrote: “Matson was motivated primarily by a sly urge to dish out a cowering insult to a veteran Tribune reporter, Tom Higgs, with whom he had been feuding, by sending a girl to cover the beat against him.” (Muir, 4) This is only the beginning of the obstacles Muir faced in the journalism world solely based on her gender.

Muir worked hard to make a name for herself in Salt Lake City covering murders and scandals. She wrote in her autobiography about a time when she ruined the only good shoes she had by tramping through blood and gore to get information on a murder for a story. She wrote about sneaking around policemen to prevent being arrested for breaking and entering. “I do not intend to convey the impression here that walking around in blood is standard practice among newspaper reporters, but it does seem in retrospect that I have had more than my share of it,” Muir wrote in her memoir. (6)

She eventually landed a job with The Salt Lake Tribune as the newspaper’s first female general assignment reporter. While at the Tribune, Muir made it clear to her editor that she was not going to cover society or club news, which was the standard for women journalists. A history of the newspaper describes Muir’s career following her time with the Tribune as “violence studded.” She covered gang wars, murder and sensational trials. (Malmquist, 419-420)

Muir’s breakthrough for women reporters came when she was the first woman to cover the legal death of a man whose story she originally covered when he murdered his lover. During her time in Salt Lake City, Utah law stated only men could witness executions, leaving women out of a possible story during an already turbulent time for women in news, as discussed above. In order to cover the execution, Muir went to Utah’s attorney general and was ruled a reporter, not a woman, according to a 1944 article in Time. (Muir, 28-29)

Muir was successful in her push to cover the execution, but was provided a male back-up reporter, just in case she became ill while witnessing a man die. As it turned out, her backup is the one who fell ill watching a man die in front of a firing squad. (Malmquist, 419-420)

She writes a detailed and insightful chapter in Headline Happy about covering the execution. She remembered her editor telling her she had handled the story better than expected, considering she was not the reporter who became sick. She observed, “I graduated into the big time that day. I could handle a story like a man. That was very important to me.” (Muir, 32)

Through her career, Muir moved on to work for the New York Daily News, where she wrote a daily column, according to a 1932 story in Variety magazine. Muir wrote columns that were syndicated to Chicago and Los Angeles, giving her a wide readership and well-known name among journalists. (“Florabel Muir succeeds”) She spent time in her career covering Hollywood-esque beats while also heading out on multiple special assignments according to another article in Variety. (“Charterer as a Scenarist”)

In her autobiography, Muir relates a colorful story of a time when she was shot in the “derriere” while following an infamous New York gambler for a story. It happened in July 1949 when she followed Mickey Cohen to various night spots around Hollywood. She wrote that she was waiting for someone to kill him in hopes that she would be there when it happened. She succeeded, but not without scars. When the shooting began, a bullet hit an object and then Muir, but she got the “newsbreak” that several other reporters missed because they gave up and left before the shooting started. (Muir, 1-2)

Muir found herself in trouble later in her career, once for buying and reselling liquor licenses and once for spitting in the face of another reporter, according to Variety. The story, published October 14, 1953, detailed how the former got her fired from a beat at the L.A. Mirror, and that she didn’t resign, as other news outlets reported.

At the end of her career, Muir was widely respected by fellow writers and journalists. One Variety reporter observed in 1938, “Many of Miss Muir’s kidding phrases were fine bits of reporting and evidenced a showmanship slant of the principals.” From my research, I conclude that Muir enjoyed the peak of her career between 1926 and 1938.

A 1950 review of her autobiography published in Variety praised Muir and cited her “delicious sense of humor and double barreled talent for superb writing craftsmanship.” The book accounted the adventures of her exciting career in journalism.

Muir died of a heart attack at the age of 80. In the New York Times obituary she was quoted as saying, “I was having a talk with my croaker the other day. He says ‘Florabel, your ticker ain’t worth a pot in hell—you take it easy, so I guess I will.’”

While researching and reading her autobiography, I grew to admire Muir’s love of journalism of being a reporter. She claimed to be suffering from an occupational disease called “Headline Happy,” which she described as a “wonderful, stimulating form of looniness in the like of which is found only in the newspaper game.” She wrote that colleagues found her expeditions to get stories crazy. She claimed they were right: she was crazy about journalism. (Muir, 1)

Madisan Hinkhouse is an alumna of The University of Utah with a fiery passion for journalism and the First Amendment. She enjoys fly fishing, skiing and spending more time outdoors than indoors.

Sources

“Florabel Muir resigns,” Variety, February 16, 1932, 3.

“Charterer as a Scenarist,” Variety, June 21, 1932, 53.

“Florabel Muir, Take a Bow,” Variety, December 28, 1938, 45.

“The Press: Florabel,” Time, November 13, 1944, 70.

Florabel Muir, Headline Happy (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1950).

“‘Headline Happy’ Is Just That,” Variety, October 25, 1950, 61.

“Miscellany: Florabel Bounced By L.A. Mirror,” Variety, October 14, 1953, 2.

“Florabel Muir succeeds Hedda,” Variety, February 9, 1966, 4.

“Florabel Muir, 80, of The Daily News,” The New York Times, April 28, 1970, 41.

“Florabel Muir, 80, Dies following heart attack,” Boxoffice, May 4, 1970, 4.

Malmquist, O. N. The First 100 Years: A History of The Salt Lake Tribune, 1871-1971. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1971.

 

Creating and Building the Pride of Utah Marching Band, 1940s-1960s

by MACKENZIE McDERMOTT

On October 10, 1940, the Utah Chronicle reported the exciting news that the University of Utah band would present its new “costumes” to the student body “with some display of marching” at the upcoming Homecoming game. The article also noted that the new leader, Joseph C. Clive, promised “new and greater activity for the year.” But it wasn’t until 1948, according to Jay L. Slaughter, that the Pride of Utah Marching Band “reorganized.” That meant that the group, which had been established as a military band to perform military drills during halftime at football games, transformed into a 120-piece “marching unit using fast cadence [tempo, or speed of music] and fully uniformed.” (Slaughter, 8) The band stopped running military drills and started putting on shows that would be performed during halftime; they also started working on music to play at other school events. When the band was reorganized, the organization lobbied to expand the program. The band never competed in formal marching competitions, but was constantly being compared, in quality, to other bands across the nation.

The year that the band made the transition, it began to pick up speed with a guest conductor, Ronald D. Gregory. The Salt Lake Telegram reported on July 12, 1948, that he had been hired to lead the band. Gregory, a graduate of Ohio State University, conducted the band in a six-week course. One of his main goals, as reported by the Salt Lake Telegram on July 12, 1948, and the Utah Chronicle on July 14, was to prepare for a football game in Los Angeles that would be held on September 17. Gregory received $5,000 to purchase new instruments and uniforms for the band. The Utah Chronicle shared some of the ways the University of Utah marching band planned to impress the Southern California Trojans with “showy marching formations and such unusual designs as a moving covered wagon with rolling wheels.” Despite the band being bigger than it ever had been, with 120 people, the Sugar House Bulletin reported in August that the band was still looking for and auditioning people to join.

HomecomingUniversityofUtah

A band marches in a parade associated with The University of Utah’s homecoming celebration. Courtesy of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

In 1952, the marching band’s success was still being attributed to Gregory. The Daily Utah Chronicle reported that “much of the credit for a superior band should be given to Ronald Gregory.” According to the article, he was the first in the West to march the band group as fast as 180 beats per minute, and was one of the first to have a themed show for halftime. Marching Utes, members of the marching band in 1952, were also mentioned in the article for forming a block U on the field to create a “brilliant show.” At that time, all 120 members of the band would practice every day for an hour, along with extra rehearsals before games, for one and a half credit hours.

In Slaughter’s The Marching Band, he includes a survey that he based some of his findings on. One of the questions was designed to find out if band directors across the nation preferred men or women for the position of drum major, who are the student leaders of the band. The survey showed that most directors did indeed prefer men to women in this leadership position, although in 1958, the Salt Lake Times advertised for majorette tryouts at the U. The major and majorette auditions in 1958 were open to both men and women, putting the U ahead of many other bands across the nation that required men for the role. Auditions for the position were for university students, as well as high school seniors, who were eligible and willing to try for the position. Drum majors at this time would often twirl batons to infuse the audience with excitement.

After Gregory’s leadership, the Pride of Utah was able to gain high marks all across the nation under the direction of Forrest D. Stoll, who took over in the 1950s. By then, the Ute marching band was being ranked alongside some of the best marching bands in the country. According to a story published in the Chronicle on October 30, 1959, the band was comparable to those at institutions including UCLA and Michigan State University. The campus newspaper acknowledged Stoll’s “fine directorship” and commended his “capable assistant,” Loel Hepworth. “These two men work very hard to maintain the high standards of the Utah band,” noted the reporter. The consistently high standards held by Stoll and Hepworth pushed the band toward greatness. The Chronicle also mentioned the drum major, Lamar Williams, and the baton twirler, Karen Berger, who were strong examples of hard work for the band, as well as the entire university. The band at the time could not have been made possible without the hard work of each of these individuals.

The marching band at the University of Utah owes much of its success to a six-week guest conductor and all of the highly dedicated students who choose to give up their time to play a part in something greater than themselves. Today, the marching band has reached over 150 students under the direction of Dr. Brian Sproul. These students take two hours out of their day, Monday through Friday, and give extra time on days of football games. On game days, the band goes from tailgaters, an event where fans park cars and trailers and often indulge in barbeque before the game; to the Ute walk, where the fight song is played repeatedly as the team enters the stadium; to a performance on the field before the game (pregame); to the actual game and halftime. The University of Utah Pride of Utah Marching Band still performs in home games and across the nation for away games. But the group doesn’t just play at sporting events. The band can also be heard playing in ceremonies at the University of Utah, and welcoming incoming freshmen with the University’s fight song. The band continues to strive for excellence to live up to their name, Pride of Utah.

Mackenzie McDermott is a freshman at the University of Utah, majoring in journalism McDermott has participated in concert bands for seven years in Las Vegas, Nevada. Throughout her time at Cadwallader Middle School and Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, a performing arts high school, she played the flute. She marched for the Pride of Utah Marching Band, and played piccolo, in Fall 2016. She performed in a University of Utah concert ensemble, on flute, in Spring 2017.

Sources

Bob Foreman, “Ute marching band ranks high,” Utah Daily Chronicle, October 30, 1959.

“U. of U. to Conduct Majorette Tryouts,” Salt Lake Times, May 9, 1958.

“The Last March,” Utah Daily Chronicle, December 1, 1952.

“U. Names Band Leader For 6-Week Course,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 12, 1948.

“U band gets guest conductor, $5000,” Utah Chronicle, July 14, 1948.

“Positions Open In Largest Band In U of U History,” Sugar House Bulletin, August 6, 1948.

“Man of the hour! Gregory talk of Uteville after band revamping,” Utah Chronicle, October 7, 1948.

“University Band Elects Chiefs For New Season,” Utah Chronicle, October 10, 1940.

The University of Utah Marching Band: 1965 handbook. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1965.

Slaughter, Jay Leon. The Marching Band. Department of Music, University of Utah, 1950.

 

 

Creation of the WAACs and their Arrival to Utah, 1943

by NICOLE COWDELL

In September 1939, German armies invaded Poland and the world was forever changed. The resulting war involved a dozen countries, took upwards of 60 million lives and altered the worldly perceptions for generations to come. However, this story is not strictly about the war. Instead, this story focuses on a unique group of individuals who answered the call when their country needed them. This story is about strength, courage and independence. This story is about breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes. This story is about the formation of the United States Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. The WAAC was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. The first units started training in July and by 1943 units were sent out across the nation. In May 1943, one of those units arrived in Utah.

On May 18, 1943, the Transcript Bulletin reported that a WAAC unit comprised of 92 women arrived at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Tooele, Utah. One of the first units to be sent out, their arrival marks an important point in history. The article goes on to say that “although situated almost in the middle of the desert, the morale of the detachment is said to be unusually high.” The women there were replacing soldiers in positions such as “chemical work, laboratory aides, chauffeurs, truck drivers and other work connected with the operation of the post.”

Of particular note, was the fact that the unit was entirely self-sufficient. On that same day, the Transcript Bulletin also reported the unit was doing “their own cooking, laundry and the many details to maintain the camp.”

The Dugway Proving Grounds was a unique assignment for the women, as it was tasked with a very specific goal by the U.S. War Department. The grounds were set up in order to test and experiment with chemical warfare methods due to the growing usage of such weapons in the World War II battlefields. Needing a spacious, unpopulated area, the War Department looked to Western Utah as the ideal location. There, “tests with toxic agents, flame throwers and chemical spray systems were performed.” (Ison, 1)

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Advertisements, including this one published in the May 15, 1943, issue of The Salt Lake Tribune, urged women to support military men by joining the WAAC.

The WAACs’ arrival was seemingly perfectly timed, for earlier that same week the Governor of Utah, Herbert B. Maw, declared the week of May 10 to 15 as WAAC Week. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the week was to be recognized statewide for “the first anniversary of the women’s auxiliary army corps…for the purpose of taking over many of the army’s noncombat jobs.” (May 10, 1943, p.16) In his address to the public, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Governor Maw said the WAAC “has rendered important services to the army by performing more than 100 different types of work formerly done by soldiers needed on the fighting fronts.”

On May 12, 1943, the Salt Lake Tribune reported recruiting would “be the principal feature of the week.” Though the WAAC had already recruited over 60,000 members, the goal was set to quickly add another 110,000 recruits and send them off to training.

Since the primary focus would be recruitment, that week the Salt Lake Tribune featured a variety of ads for the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. One featured on page 10 on May 15, 1943, declared largely that the women in the WAAC were “the luckiest girls alive – and we know it! The need is great – the need is NOW!,” it said, sparking patriotism and desperately trying to appeal to the American women who could help fill the wartime void. It seemed great pride was placed upon the women as they bravely entered into unknown territory to dutifully help their country during wartime.

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Ads such as this one, published in the May 15, 1943, edition of The Salt Lake Tribune, emphasized duty and patriotism and encouraged women to seek more information about the program.

The women who enlisted also received much praise from their communities. In fact, updates of women who signed up were frequently printed in the papers. Since Tooele was home to one of the units serving at Dugway, it should come as no shock that they were particularly proud of their women. On March 23, 1943, the Transcript Bulletin announced that “Miss Eva C. Brough … left Tooele Saturday for Salt Lake headquarters prior to her departure for Fort Des Moines, Iowa.” The announcement made the front page and was printed above the announcement of two marines leaving for training soon. This is just one of many examples of communities rallying behind men and women supporting the nation’s war efforts.

The community, both local and farther away in Salt Lake City, welcomed the Dugway Proving Grounds unit and continued to encourage more enlistments. The WAAC even received praise from the nation’s president. Printed on page 12 of the Salt Lake Tribune on May 16, 1943, President Roosevelt said, “I congratulate the WAACs and express the gratitude of our nation for a task well commenced.”

The Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps became simply the Women’s Army Corps in July 1943 but the units’ story doesn’t end there. Women continued to dutifully, though separately, serve in the military until 1978 when the WAC was finally fully absorbed into the United States Army. Even then though, the battle for equality and recognition still continued. Though the creation, implementation and ultimate success of the Women’s Army Corps worked to break down gender stereotypes, women were still not seen as fully fit for combative military positions. Even once absorbed in the army, they were withheld from holding combat positons for years to come. Not until December 2015, close to 74 years after the creation of the WAAC, would women finally be allowed to occupy combat roles in all areas of the United States military.

On December 3, 2015, the New York Times published an article which stated “the Pentagon would open all combat jobs to women.” The newspaper also called this decision a “historic transformation,” a “groundbreaking decision” and “the latest in a long march of inclusive steps by the military.” As the fight continues around the nation, and the globe, for women’s equality the WAC and its legacy are a heart-filled reminder of all those who came before us and the accomplishments they strived to achieve.

Nicole Cowdell is a senior at the University of Utah. She is majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism.

Sources

“Maw Signals Start of WAAC Week: Governor Cites Opportunities Waiting Recruits,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 10, 1943, 16.

“Conference Opens Drive to Hike WAAC Total,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1943, 14.

Advertisement for WAAC Enlistment, The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1943, 10.

“The WAAC…Its First Birthday Just Passed…On They March,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1943, 11.

“WAACS Gain Praise of U.S. President,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 16, 1943, 12.

“92 WAACS Arrive at Dugway: Morale High as Ladies Adjust to Desert Life,” The Transcript Bulletin, May 18, 1943, 1.

“All Combat Roles Now Open to Women, Defense Secretary Says,” The New York Times, December 3, 2015, 1.

Ison, Yvette. “Chemical Weapons Testing Created Controversy at Dugway.” The History Blazer (July 1995): 41-42.

Williams, Vera. WACs: Women’s Army Corps. Osceola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International, 1997.

Salt Lake Comic Con

by GEORGE W. KOUNALIS

In August 2013, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Salt Lake Comic Con was projected to break inaugural convention attendance records with a low-end estimate of 40,000 attendees. That September, 72,000 comic fans showed up to the premier convention, according to Salt Lake Comic Con’s own statistics. These numbers speak volumes to the fandom phenomena taking place across the United States as well as in Utah. According to Jeffrey A. Brown, author of Comic Book Fandom and Cultural Capital, “Cons often appeal to a much wider range of fandom than just the comic book enthusiast.” (Brown, 17) The Geek Phenomenon is one that is becoming mainstream in American culture, with Utah being cited as the “nerdiest state in the country,” according to a 2014 piece in Time. Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, the two forces behind organizing Salt Lake Comic Con and its current directors, have created Utah’s biggest convention in the state’s history.

Photo1

The vendor floor of the Salt Lake Comic Con, September 2013. Photo by George W. Kounalis.

Salt Lake Comic Con’s inaugural event had many guests of honor, including actors Adam West, William Shatner, and Henry Winkler, and comic-book writer Stan Lee. The initial event also boasted many vendors and artists from a wide range of fandoms. To the uninitiated, fandoms are the driving force of a comic con. The term is used to describe the groups of people who are fans of certain TV shows or other geek groups. The diverse amount of vendors, artists, and guests attracted thousands of Utah’s “geekiest” to the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.

Photo2

A panoramic view of the Salt Lake Comic Con vendor floor, September 2014. Photo by George W. Kounalis.

The event lasted from September 5-7, 2013. According to the Deseret News, “Fans reported waiting in line for as much as four hours Saturday just to get into the front door to catch the last of the three-day convention.” Ticket sales on that Saturday topped 50,000, with the event being declared as sold out and the Salt Lake County fire marshal limiting the number of people allowed in the Salt Palace. This means, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, that Salt Lake Comic Con’s inaugural event was bigger than the popular Outdoor Retailer show. (McFall) On August 30, 2013, The Salt Lake Tribune quoted one of the convention’s cofounders, Bryan Brandenburg, as saying, “Not only will we increase local participation by 50 to 100 percent, but based on analytics, we are going to be another San Diego Comic-Con.”

Salt Lake Comic Con’s next event, FanXperience 2014, hosted 100,000 people, making it the new biggest convention in Utah. According to Salt Lake Comic Con’s own website, event attendance has continued to grow with each additional convention.

The Salt Lake Tribune, in a story published on September 3, 2014, cited Salt Lake Comic Con’s statistics to illustrate the event’s popularity: “Attendees at FanX came into Salt Lake City from all but two U.S. states.” This suggests that the impact of Salt Lake Comic Con is reaching beyond Salt Lake County. The reporter also noted: “While only 15 percent of the registered guests at last year’s Comic Con were from outside of Salt Lake County, Farr says that number is showing a steady uptick.” Comic Con has been growing since its inaugural convention and is beginning to show an impact on businesses in downtown Salt Lake City.

Photo3

A group of cosplayers have fun at the September 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con. Photo by George W. Kounalis.

Salt Lake Comic Con’s initial convention included many panels on a wide variety of topics, including “How to Get on a Reality TV Show,” and featured numerous film/TV workshops and a Cosplay Contest. “Cosplay” is a term that is the fusion of costume and play. In
“geekdom,” the term is used to describe costuming as a character from a piece of visual media. The convention’s ability to give people access to these sorts of events is one of the many reasons that Salt Lake Comic Con has grown exponentially over the years. Attendees also have opportunities to get autographs and photos (for a fee of $20 or more) and greet the stars who are present.

Photo4

From left: Tom Kenny, Jeff Zannini, Jess Harnell, Grey DeLisle, and Bill Farmer participate in the Twisted Toonz Panel at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX, 2016. Photo courtesy of Dan Adams.

Prior to Salt Lake Comic Con’s 2014 event, San Diego Comic-Con notified Salt Lake Comic Con that it was suing for trademark infringement and false designation of origin. The Deseret News reported on August 8, 2014, that Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg denied dropping the Salt Lake Comic Con name and said, “We feel very strong that we’re not doing anything that everyone else isn’t doing.” The Deseret News also reported that “Salt Lake Comic Con is among dozens of conventions across the country and the world that brand their events as comic cons. San Diego Comic-Con holds the trademark on ‘Comic-Con’ with a hyphen, but abandoned its 1995 bid for the rights to ‘Comic Con,’ with a space.” In May 2016, according to Salt Lake Comic Con’s website, both San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con requested an extension for the lawsuit. Dan Farr and Dan Farr Productions are arguing that they obtained a trademark for Salt Lake Comic Con and that many other events use the term comic con in their name.

In February 2017, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Emerald Expositions, the company that owns the Outdoor Retailer show, would no longer hold its massive, twice-yearly shows in Salt Lake City. In response, Bryan Brandenburg wrote an open letter on LinkedIn regarding the situation and how Salt Lake Comic Con can fill in the shoes of the Outdoor Retailer Expo. In his letter he cites how the state’s tax credits for filmmaking in Utah has created the perfect environment for Salt Lake Comic Con to grow. Brandenberg writes, “We believe we can build something that will have much more impact if we are able to line up the type of support that Outdoor Retailers had here. Salt Lake Comic Con is only three years old and we’ve already helped generated tens of millions of dollars in economic impact to the area.” Requesting the support from the state of Utah could fill in the shoes of the Outdoor Retailer Expo and allow Salt Lake Comic Con to become the number 3 comic convention in the United States behind San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con.

Salt Lake Comic Con is currently the largest convention in the state of Utah and has set a new precedent for Geek culture in the state. Even though the con is only about 3.5 years old, the impact of it is being seen across the state. With the Outdoor Retailer Expo making the decision to leave in February 2017, Salt Lake Comic Con has been put in a position to fill in those shoes and has the potential to become bigger.

I interviewed Dan Farr at the most recent event on March 17, 2017, regarding the Outdoor Retailer Expo leaving Utah and he had the following to say, “We would like to be something like South by Southwest, which is a fan festival for music. If we can turn it [Salt Lake Comic Con] into something like that here, we can have hundreds of millions brought into the state.”  This convention matters because it is one of the biggest events in the state and will continue to be so. The impact of events such as Comic Con bring new people into geekdom and allow the community to be put on the map for other geek events. It also allows Utah to expand connections with the entertainment industry.

George W. Kounalis is a junior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in journalism with a minor in music technology.

Sources

George Kounalis, interview with Dan Farr, recorded March 17, 2017, http://bit.ly/2nwDYGy.

Salt Lake Comic Con, “San Diego Comic-Con International vs. Salt Lake Comic Con,” accessed March 14, 2017, http://bit.ly/2mSLQkG

Bryan Brandenburg, “Salt Lake Comic Con Can Fill the Void of Outdoor Retailers Exit,” LinkedIn, February 24, 2017.

Salt Lake Comic Con, accessed February 23, 2017, http://bit.ly/2m4Jv8L

Michael McFall, “Comic Con delivers fans, but does it deliver dollars?” The Salt Lake Tribune, September 3, 2014.

McKenzie Romero, “San Diego Comic-Con strikes back: Lawsuit filed against growing S.L. convention,” The Deseret News, August 8, 2014.

Nolan Feeney, “This is the nerdiest state in America,” Time, April 26, 2014.

Matthew Piper, “Salt Lake Comic Con organizers have San Diego in their sights,” The Salt Lake Tribune, September 11, 2013.

Program, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013, September 5-7, 2013.

Matthew Piper, “Salt Lake City is poised to challenge first-year comic con records,” The Salt Lake Tribune, August 30, 2013.

Alberty, Erin. “Outdoor Retailer is leaving Utah over public lands issues, a move Herbert calls ‘offensive.'” The Salt Lake Tribune, February 17, 2017, http://bit.ly/2m1xxJx.

Brown, Jeffrey. “Comic Book Fandom and Cultural Capital,” The Journal of Popular Culture 30, no. 4 (March 1997): 13-31.

Wright, Bradford. Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Doug Fabrizio, Host of KUER’s ‘RadioWest’

by HANNA TATRO

Doug Fabrizio was born in 1964 in Bountiful, Utah. He studied at the University of Utah and began working and reporting for the KUER broadcasting station in 1987. KUER is a public radio station and is a member of National Public Radio (NPR). Its mission is simple: the station is “committed to building a community of world citizens through story and art, discussion and debate, sound and creativity.” (“About KUER”) The station is broadcast from the University of Utah and listeners around Utah tune in.

Fabrizio began working at the station when he was a junior in high school. By 1993, he had assumed the position of news director of KUER. (Sheehan) Then, in 2001, Fabrizio began hosting a radio segment, RadioWest. The show is “a radio conversation where people tell stories that explore the way the world works. (“About RadioWest“) In an interview with CityWeekly, Fabrizio expressed his views of the shows’ particular content, “Art and culture are an important part of the program. I actually don’t believe in segregating news – keeping the hard stuff from the softer stories (in fact I hate describing arts coverage or features as ‘soft’) or the local ones from the national ones. No matter where it comes from, most of us don’t see music or literature or great film as any less important to our lives than knowing about the critical events and issues of the day.” (Sheehan) Fabrizio has had the chance to interview many influential people throughout the years, from Madeleine Albright, the first woman in the United States to become secretary of state, to the Dalai Lama.

Doug Fabrizio, host of RadioWest, has worked at KUER since 19xx.

Doug Fabrizio became host and executive producer of KUER’s RadioWest in 2001. Photo courtesy of KUER.

Fabrizio’s work has been recognized by many organizations, including the Public Radio News Directors Association, Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

RadioWest has steadily progressed throughout the years and Fabrizio’s style has evolved using storytelling mixed with honest interview question and answers. Fabrizio has profiled a number of topics, Utahns, and intellectuals, including the documentary, Ab Jenkins and the Boys of Bonneville, Everett Ruess, University of Utah President Chase Peterson, Congressman Ron Paul, David Foster Wallace, Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, and Robert Redford. These profiles incorporate Fabrizio’s storytelling approach.

“The Boys of Bonneville” segment aired on August 24, 2011. The segment featured the story of Ab Jenkins, who sped across the Bonneville Salt Flats and set record speeds. Fabrizio interviewed the director and others about the new documentary. Fabrizio introduced the piece with a simple introduction, setting the scene of the Salt Flats, a landmark not as well known by Utah residents as one would think. Fabrizio had four separate guests on the program; he kept the atmosphere relaxed.

Fabrizio focused on Everett Ruess, a young man who disappeared in the Utah desert, for a segment that aired on July 13, 2011. The tone was more serious as Fabrizio interviewed David Roberts, a writer who had thought he had found the body of Ruess. Fabrizio carried the piece by asking the tough questions first, and using basic interview skills. The piece doesn’t provide answers for where Ruess lies, but Fabrizio explores Ruess’s story and invites Roberts to discuss his chronicle of Ruess’ adventures.

University of Utah President Chase Peterson sat down with Fabrizio on May 7, 2012, to discuss his new book, The Guardian Poplar. The segment was carried by Fabrizio’s tone. He had respect for Peterson, which was evidenced by his very candid introduction. Fabrizio listed Peterson’s accomplishments and then let him do the talking. Peterson was humble and quiet and shared stories that appeared in his book. Fabrizio’s technique gave Peterson the stage and allowed the story to speak for itself. Peterson had been diagnosed with cancer and believed he only had a few years to live. But, he outlived his death sentence and Fabrizio’s presence put him at ease to share his struggles and joys.

Musician La Monte Young, who was born in Idaho and worked on a family farm on Utah Lake, has influenced some of the great artists. In a show that aired November 29, 2013, Fabrizio interviewed Professor Jeremy Grimshaw from Brigham Young University, who wrote a biography about the musical protégé. Fabrizio was knowledgeable about the guest and artist, but he asked open-ended questions that led to further discussion and allowed Grimshaw to discuss the complex character and Young’s musical compositions. Fabrizio’s technique allowed for a more in-depth approach that yielded untouched information.

Congressmen Ron Paul spoke at Utah Valley University in October 2012 and conducted a question and answer afterward with the students. Fabrizio’s segment took listeners inside the discussion and allowed people to share in the conversation. Fabrizio began with his simple introduction approach and allowed the congressmen to greet the viewers. Then Fabrizio facilitated the Q and A session.

David Foster Wallace was an acclaimed writer who committed suicide. D.T. Max, a New Yorker staff writer, wrote a biography of Wallace and joined Fabrizio’s show by phone to tell the story. The piece began with an introduction of Wallace and Max, which gave the audience an immediate feel for both parties.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Laureate, came to Utah in September 2012 to talk about his international atomic energy plans. He also joined Fabrizio for a RadioWest interview. The piece had a serious tone in keeping with a newsworthy international discussion.

Biographer Michael Feeney Callan chronicled the life of Robert Redford in his book, Robert Redford: The Biography. Callan spent fifteen years speaking to Redford and discovering his ways before finishing his book. Fabrizio introduced the September 2011 program with a story of Redford’s search for art and wanderings and then allowed Callan to discuss his book and findings about the infamous founder of Sundance Film Festival.

The early 1900s began the trend of the national radio craze throughout America. It all started with young teens from Utah, much like Fabrizio. In 1909 these kids began the first Radio Club in Salt Lake City. They transmitted and broadcast segments over the airwaves. (Larson and Avery) Fabrizio has continued to carry on the young Utah tradition and has transformed his broadcast to feature several storytelling techniques. He uses the airwaves to tell the stories, which carry communication to Utah and the rest of the nation.

Fabrizio’s broadcasts since 2009 can be found online. Archiving is an ongoing project.

Hanna Tatro graduated from The University of Utah in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism.

Sources

Biographical sketch, Doug FabrizioRadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “Boys of Bonneville.” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “Finding Everett Ruess,” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “The Guardian Poplar,” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “The Music and Mysticism of La Monte Young,” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “Congressman Ron Paul,” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “The Life of David Foster Wallace,” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed Elbaradei,” RadioWest.

Doug Fabrizio, “Robert Redford: The Biography,” RadioWest.

Tim Larson and Robert K. Avery, “Utah Broadcasting History,” in Utah History Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 2009).

About KUER,” KUER.org.

Gavin Sheehan, “Doug Fabrizio,” City Weekly, July 10, 2009.

Printed Voices of the Salt Lake City LGBT Community in the Early 1990s

by BRIAN ROBLES

A newspaper’s success is heavily dependent on the character and strength of the people behind the scenes. This is especially true of the alternative press, including newspapers targeted for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. Without a large group of readers and subscribers, it would make printing and distributing a heavy cost not easily paid. Luckily, there are people who are willing to champion this cause. In recent years, Salt Lake City has become one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the U.S., which contrasts with the city’s conservative image. (Breen) This is in part due to the LGBT community that pioneered for a voice.

Tracy Baim, an award-winning journalist in the gay community, wrote in her book, Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America, that:

There is a reason a gay press was needed. When the media of the previous two centuries were not wholly ignoring everything about homosexuals and the growing gay-rights movement, they were doing far worse: moralizing, demonizing, criminalizing, medicalizing, “repairing,” proselytizing, polarizing, ostracizing and often just pitying those poor, sad, pathetic “avowed” homosexuals. (Baim, 15)

Gay media were able to supply the LGBT community with something that it desperately needed: gay news that was relevant to the community. Because the mainstream media tended to show the gay lifestyle in a negative light, it was important for readers to have somewhere to turn for reinforcement that it was OK to be gay. The gay press was able to provide role models and inspirational authors who were able to help readers find a positive self-image. A study on the effects of media on gay identity states that without these role models there “was a sense of being excluded from traditional society.” (Gomillion and Giuliano, 347) Without the gay press, the LGBT community of Salt Lake City would have found themselves as outsiders with no room for their alternative lifestyle.

The purpose of this project is to illustrate the crucial role that the writers, editors, and publishers of certain Salt Lake City publications played in creating a voice for the LGBT community in the early 1990s. Their staunch support and willingness to represent this minority demographic enabled the LGBT community to have its issues gain public awareness. Highlighted are the attempts by these editors and publishers to draw the lay public into action.

Excerpts from three publications that were published through the early 1990s in Salt Lake City will be presented and interpreted in this article. These publications were: The Bridge, Outfront Review, and The Pillar of the Gay Community. The editors and publishers of these papers reflected on specific LGBT issues at the beginning of each publication, which helped set the tone of that particular publication. Their blurbs, pieces, and publications provided a place for these community contributors to try to bring the LGBT voice of out complacency and to bring the community together as a collective chorus that would assure that their voices would be heard.

The Bridge

Starting in 1990, a monthly publication called The Bridge, and its copublishers Becky Moorman and Alice Hart, brought the call to action and urgency to the Salt Lake City LGBT community. The forceful tone found throughout the publications present LGBT issues that demand to be heard. The Publishers’ Notes varied from introductions of the month’s publication to celebrations of queer culture to short shout-outs to close friends. These Publishers’ Notes are how we see just how deeply invested Moorman and Hart were in their community. According to the note in the second issue of The Bridge, published in November 1990:

Besides being a service to the gay and lesbian communities of Utah, The Bridge is Utah’s watchdog to the arts (and art censors): literary and visual. And if you don’t believe they need guarding; you don’t get out much. America’s art, music, and culture are going to the congressional dogs, and the constitution right along with it.

From the beginning, Moorman and Hart showed a penchant for the political. This was a publication that had publishers who were not willing to let their community be voiceless any longer.

caption

Cover of The Bridge. This publication, and others discussed in this article, are available at the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The Bridge was a call to action for the LGBT community. The publishers were not merely interested in presenting alternative news; they wanted to shape their history and society. The editors and publishers of The Bridge believed that involvement was the way to bring change. But that is not to say that Moorman and Hart were solely interested in what affected the LGBT community. In the sixth issue, published in March 1991, Moorman and Hart wrote to their readers regarding pending legislation — The Hate Crimes Statistics Act and Anti-Abortion laws. The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which was ultimately adopted in 1992, required the state to collect and publish the hate crimes committed in the state. Pro-life versus pro-choice was also a hot topic at the time with the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case discussing abortion. In this sixth issue, the editors were not afraid to show where they stood nor were they afraid to push their readers to action:

“Be sure to voice your support for the Hate Crimes Statistic Bill and to mention how disgusted you are with the new anti-abortion law. Remember to boycott Utah. Cancel your conferences. Encourage everyone you know out of state not to travel here, spend money or do business with Utah companies until the unconstitutional ban on choice is lifted. Gut and burn any cars you see with anti-choice bumper stickers. Or if you’re a republican pro-lifer, bomb an abortion clinic for Jesus. There’s no one in them right now; which makes it less fun, but infinitely safer.”

This use of language — asking the readers to participate in boycotts and the like — was to encourage readers to come out and start taking an active role in their community. While this call for boycotting and law breaking was strong, the idea itself proves to be a radical one and may have perhaps alienated some of the readers of these notes. The other issue with boycotting Salt Lake City as a whole is that it would hurt the LGBT community just as much as the general population. A powerfully emotional, and perhaps too zealous, call to action can prove to be more detrimental than helpful in this case.

As mentioned, not all of the Publishers’ Notes were written in this authoritative call to action, but it was the urge for readers to become one of their community, to shirk their fear of retaliation due to the way they chose to love, that made The Bridge such an important publication. The February 1992 issue featured one of the more powerful calls to raise the voice of the LGBT community:

Love & Hate — this is the month for it! Hate Radio! Hate Crimes! Hate legislation! Homosexuals are the fashionable to-hates. The last sanctioned discrimination. Legislators, churches hide behind silence and exclusion — tacitly financing violence. Stop the straight war on gay love. No one can afford to be a fence-sitter. Violence is everyone’s problem. We can only stop it by saying STOP in as loud a voice as we can. Ask everyone. TELL everyone. They don’t have a right to NOT have an opinion. Don’t be complacent. Don’t let anyone be complacent. They may not like you for it now. Equality is contagious. If you keep on person from being silent – other’s will speak up. Others will listen. Silence is death. There may be blood on your hands for every time you heard gays talked about, joked about, whatever and didn’t say STOP!

Here Moorman and Hart explain that it’s not only a right, but also an obligation to raise one’s voice and to participate. They take a stand against those who don’t walk their talk. Discrimination of any kind is kept in power by the silence of the people who may oppose it in their hearts but never lend their voices to the cause. As a member of a community, one has certain responsibilities. If readers chose to read this particular publication and be a part of the community, it was their responsibility to become an active member to help further the progress of the LGBT movement in Salt Lake City.

Image courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Outfront Review

The second publication of focus is the bi-monthly publication Outfront Review, originally Out Front Magazine, whose editor provided a more unified vision to their readers. Throughout the years, Editor Randy Richardson used a voice that seemed more suggestive than authoritative in the call to arms for the LGBT community of Salt Lake. While reviewing the Editor’s Notes in these publications, it’s found that Richardson spoke more with an appeal to pathos in contrast to Moorman and Hart’s lean to logos.

Like The Bridge, Outfront Review called for the LGBT public to participate in politics in order to gain awareness and make political strides. Outfront Review presented this same line of thinking in November 1992 when Richardson wrote:

“When you VOTE, remember all those who have gone before us and died needlessly because we had no rights. Remember all of those who never had a chance because AIDS was a Gay disease. Do it in remembrance of all those who have fought hard all of these years to get us to where we are today … think of all of our children … what future will they have, what legacy shall we leave them?

“PLEASE VOTE. We know you are out there, and that you do really care!”

This piece shows that appeal to emotion in the mention of children and the dead but its plea is similar to that of The Bridge in that the editor still seeks participation from the community.

The second issue, published in November 1992 discussed the role of the community in politics. The Editor’s Note addressed the need for the community to come together rather than remain segregated into gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender individuals ­— an issue that continues even today. Editor Richardson wrote: “Perhaps we need to look at forming a united gay and lesbian alliance … so that we can discuss things together, in an open forum … and then vote to obtain a majority opinion, speaking with one voice, representative of … and in … the best interest of our desires, goals and objectives as a community.”

The Pillar

Image courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Image courtesy of the Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

This brings us to The Pillar of the Gay Community (The Pillar for short), which began publishing in 1993 with a specific demographic in mind — gay men. As The Pillar grew in popularity, it became apparent that the niche it filled could be inclusive to all of the LGBT community. The paper started to expand its role in the LGBT community, which can be seen in the paper’s changing tagline. For example, it started as a publication for “For Utah Mehn,” [sic] then billed itself as being for the “Lesbian and Gay Community” before broadening its focus to the “the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community” of Salt Lake. The Pillar was the longest lived of the three publications presented in this article and continued publication until 2007. Its longevity may be due to its mix of LGBT news, entertainment, and flat out in-your-face attitude. Here, in the paper’s debut issue published April 1993, the writers set the record straight on what they will contribute to their community — and what the community could expect in future issues:

Why another paper in an over-developed market such as Salt Lake City you might ask? Great Question! We at The Pillar feel that there is a “hole” that is not being filled in the Gay Media and we hop to plug it! With the demise of The Bridge, and the Outfront, a group of us desired to compliment The Womyn’s Community Newsletter by mirroring them in our Mehn’s community. We are not out to offend anyone but get use to seeing Faggot, Dyke, and Queer in print and some outrageous Gay consciousness raising at times. We are firm proponents of the Gay Human Rights and we make no apologies for being homosexually proactive.

As mentioned in the note above, The Bridge and Outfront Review had both closed their doors, leaving a gap for this publication to fill.

The Pillar seemed to combine the best aspects of both The Bridge and Outfront Review. In the premier issue, readers were introduced to what they could expect from The Pillar — an unapologetic, authoritative use of language, which is reminiscent of the pieces published in The Bridge. But then The Pillar also adopted that same desire for unity that The Bridge sought, as seen in the “From The Editor” piece by Kim Russo in the December 1995 issue:

Too many times and on too many occasions when we have had a conflict or could not come to an agreement as an organization, we tended to “eat our own.” Instead of resolving differences or understanding that we can disagree and still function as a group or organization, anger took its turn and we “ate our own.” Torie Osborne coined that phrase and I resolved never to forget it. She said that in gay and lesbian communities around the nation, when conflict occurred, members would turn against each other and tear the other one down. How right Torie is. Therefore, resolve to be fair and not too critical. You know of all communities that should stick together because they have personally experienced their own kind of pain, it is us. Indeed may we stand together through it all.

This piece echoes Richardson’s note from Outfront Review, showing us that there was, and is, still the need for the community to band together.

Conclusion

The Editor’s Notes and Publisher’s Notes are often missed or skipped over for the traditional news and entertainment articles. This is a problem as these notes and additions to periodicals reveal so much emotion in them and provide insight to why the LGBT publications existed in the first place. The stories found between the covers of the publications discussed here held many of the same qualities found throughout great journalistic articles, but these notes presented something similar to a dialogue, which helped make these documents relevant even after nearly two decades. It was like reading a letter from a dear friend. They provided summaries of what had happened, and hopes of what may come, and always pushed readers to be better in their community and their lives.

The efforts by the influential people of the time helped make the LGBT community as strong as it is today. There’s still work to be done and maybe today’s publications, like QSaltLake, will be what The Bridge, Outfront Review, and The Pillar were for the LGBT community in the early 1990s. There’s still a need for gay press to spur the people into action, to inform them of what rights they have (or don’t), and to unite the factions within the LGBT community.

Brian Robles is a senior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication.

Sources

Kim Russo, “From The Editor,” The Pillar of the Gay Community, December 1995, 6.

Kim Russo, “From The Editor,” The Pillar of the Gay Community, May 1994, 2.

“Premier Issue,” The Pillar of the Gay Community, April 1993, 1.

Randy Richardson, “Editor’s Note,” Outfront Review, November 15-30, 1992, 2.

Randy Richardson, “Editor’s Note,” Outfront Review, November 1-15, 1992, 3.

Randy Richardson, “Editor’s Note,” Outfront Review, July 15-31, 1992, 3.

Alice Hart and Becky Moorman, “Publishers’ Note,” The Bridge, February, 1992, 5.

Alice Hart and Becky Moorman, “Publishers’ Note,” The Bridge, March, 1991, 4.

Alice Hart and Becky Moorman, “Publishers’ Note,” The Bridge, November, 1990, 3.

Baim, Tracy and John D’Emilio. Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

Breen, Matthew. “Gayest Cities in America,” The Advocate, January 9, 2012.

Gomillion, Sarah C. and Traci A. Giuliano. “The Influence of Media Role Models on Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Identity.” Journal of Homosexuality 58, no. 3 (2011): 330-54.

 

 

 

 

 

Lagoon, the Roller Coaster, and the Kilee King Investigation, 1989

by JOHANNA M. MELIK

In the late 1800s, Utah’s beloved amusement park, today known as Lagoon, was located in a different area along the shores of the Great Salt Lake, along with other “recreational resorts.” Not only was Lagoon’s location different back in the day, but its name was too. The resort was called “Lake Park,” and was open to the public on July 15, 1886. “It was one of the most attractive watering places in the West.” (127 Years) However, in 1893, the Great Salt Lake began to recede, leaving this once wonderful paradise surrounded by “a sticky, blue mud that was miserable to swimmers and guests.” (127 Years) This nasty inconvenience, among other reasons, basically forced Lake Park to switch locations and relocate to its current address in Farmington in 1896. The new home of this park was situated on the banks of a nine-acre lagoon, two and one-half miles inland from its original location, providing the park with its new name: Lagoon. (127 Years)

Department of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, was popular in 1896. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

The same year of its relocation, Lagoon presented its first thrill ride, Shoot-the-Chutes, which is similar to today’s Log Flume ride. Later, in 1921, one of the most well known rides of this amusement park was finally introduced and “the roar of the Roller Coaster began.” (127 Years) “Almost 90 years old,” Arave writes, “the Lagoon Roller Coaster remains one of the most popular attractions at the park and is one of only a few wooden coasters between Denver and the West Coast.”

According to Lagoon’s press kit, a fire in 1953 destroyed the front of this coaster. It was rebuilt the following year, and sections of the Roller Coaster have been rebuilt each year since then. In that same press kit, Lagoon ensured the ride was, and would be, safe for the community. “The tracks are walked and thoroughly checked over each day before being put into use for the public.” (127 Years) As true as this may be, there have still been a few accidents, even fatal incidents, which occurred on this very ride. However, it seems that in all of those situations, Lagoon was not at fault. Arave writes that those deaths were caused by the “patron’s own negligence or recklessness.” In fact, the odds of being killed on one of these rides are about two chances in 43 million. (Arave) Rep. Blaze Wharton, D-Salt Lake, “compliments Lagoon’s safety record and doesn’t think, given information about the recent accident, that inspections could have prevented the deaths.” (Deseret News, June 25)

In the specific case of Kilee King, a 13-year-old girl of Bountiful who died on the infamous wooden Roller Coaster in 1989, investigation proved that no criminal negligence was involved. (Rosebrock, June 14) According to a June 29 story in the Deseret News, the Farmington police detective who investigated the incident found that the death of this teenage girl was a “fluke combination of her physique, actions and the laws of physics.” (Rosebrock, June 29) King was a slim, 5 feet 3 inches tall girl who only weighed 71 pounds. “In effect, it was a quirk of physics, combined with what the girl did and her height and weight,” said Detective Sgt. Jeff Jacobson after investigation of the incident. (Rosebrock, June 29)

Deseret News reporter Joel Campbell wrote on June 11 that Kilee King died at the park after falling from the front seat of the ride’s carts. “Witnesses said that the girl stood up from beneath a locked retraining bar, lost her balance and fell to a grassy area beneath the coaster.” According to that same article, the coaster had just gone over the curve of its second hill when she lost contact with the cart. The girl pushed herself up against the safety bar as the cart was at the peak of the hill, raised her arms above her head and lifted up off her seat as the cart took its ordinary “downward plunge.” The momentum from her forward and upward motion caused her to slip from under the bar, falling 35 feet to the ground. (Deseret News, July 29) The South Davis Fire Department officials said the girl was pronounced dead before any emergency medical personnel had arrived. (Deseret News, June 11)

The victim was the daughter of J. Wayne and Susan King. After the terrible incident, Susan filed a lawsuit against the amusement park, charging it with negligence. (Deseret News, July 29) According to Deseret News reports on July 29, 1989, Mrs. King stated that the design and operation of the park’s roller coaster was dangerous and that the lack of sufficient safety restraints is what had allowed her daughter to be thrown from the ride. Lagoon officials choose to not disclose much information about the lawsuits filed against the park, but according to Detective Jacobson’s findings, this was not the case. (Deseret News, July 29) According to Deseret News reporter Don Rosebrock, King had a season pass to Lagoon and had ridden the roller coaster multiple times prior to the deadly accident.

Department of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

A postcard view of Lagoon. Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Being a part of the LDS church, King’s passing was a topic of discussion during one of her church’s meetings. “We discussed the fact that her spirit had left her body, that she was still living…. We explained she will continue to live and they [young people whom she was friends with] should not be fearful and they would see her again,” stated Bishop Sherman Fuller, in an article written by Deseret News on June 12. “There was an air of peace.” Friends and neighbors remembered King as “vivacious, energetic and a natural leader.” She was thought of as someone whom everybody liked. (Deseret News, June 12) She was the type of person who did not care about what others had, “maybe they weren’t as popular or energetic. She tried to bring those people forward. She tried to involve them,” said Fuller in the article. (Deseret News, June 12) One of her “lifetime” friends, Katie Gardiner, was one of the people whom she “went out of her way to make feel accepted by a group of friends.” (Deseret News, June 12) Another one of King’s friends, Jeremy Christoffersen, said, “Next year in eighth grade I will think about her a lot and that she is gone. We spend a lot of time together. I used to go to Lagoon a lot with her. We went to a restaurant as a presidency. She was always laughing and smiling…. I still don’t understand what happened on the roller coaster.” (Deseret News, June 12)

The park itself remained opened after this accident, but the ride was shut down for inspection. (Rosebrock, June 14) However, “two studies, using research by doctors, scientists, astronauts and engineers, say amusement park rides are very safe.” (Deseret News, Jan. 21) J. Clark Robinson, a worker at Lagoon for 27 years who was president of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, said that the studies “have brought to light scientific proof that our rides are safe.” (Deseret News, Jan. 21)

People should not worry about accidents when visiting Lagoon, because cases such as Kilee King’s are very uncommon. Over the 127 years that Lagoon has been running and available to the public, there have been 16 deaths overall, including incidents not involving any of the rides themselves (such as heart attacks). Nearly half of those were caused by “the patron’s own negligence or recklessness.” (Arave) So it is, however, important to know how to keep yourself safe when riding these rides, in order to avoid a tragic accident. There are just some things that cannot be controlled by a safety restraint.

Johanna M. Melik is a junior at The University of Utah, majoring in mass communication.

Sources

Joel Campbell, “OFFICIALS PROBING DEATH OF GIRL, 13, WHO FELL FROM ROLLER COASTER,” Deseret News, June 11, 1989.

Joel Campbell, “KILEE WAS HAPPY AND CARING GIRL FRIENDS RECALL,” Deseret News, June 12, 1989.

Don Rosebrock and Joel Campbell, “BOUNTIFUL GIRL’S DEATH NOT THE 1st ON LAGOON’S WOODEN ROLLER COASTER,” Deseret News, June 13, 1989.

Don Rosebrock, “TEEN’S DEATH ON ROLLER COASTER AT LAGOON IS RULED ACCIDENTAL,” Deseret News, June 14, 1989.

Joel Campbell and Ray Eldard, “LEGISLATOR WANTS INSPECTIONS OF CARNIVAL, PARK RIDES,” Deseret News, June 25, 1989.

Don Rosebrock, “ROLLER COASTER DEATH CALLED A FLUKE A QUIRK OF PHYSICS, TEEN’S PHYSIQUE AND HER ACTIONS, DETECTIVE SAYS,” Deseret News, June 29, 1989.

“BOUNTIFUL MOTHER FILES LAWSUIT IN DEATH OF DAUGHTER AT LAGOON,” Deseret News, July 29, 1989.

Lynn Arave, “Lagoon questions data on injuries,” Deseret News, August 15, 2000.

Lee Davidson,“2 studies declare roller coaster safe,” Deseret News, January 21, 2003.

Arave, Lynn. “It’s About Fun: A History of Lagoon Amusement/Theme Park.” The Mystery Of Utah.

127 Years of Family Fun!” Lagoon Corp. Media Resources.

 

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Coverage of the Cancellation of ‘Brokeback Mountain’

by MIRANDA A. KNOWLES

Ang Lee’s 2005 film, Brokeback Mountain, portrayed  two cowboys, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar (performed by Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger), who showcased their “forbidden” love. The film created controversy all over the world — including in Utah.

According to ads in the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune, Brokeback Mountain was scheduled to play at 12:45 p.m., Friday, January 6, 2006, at Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons. But the previous night, the film was pulled from its schedule and replaced by another film after the owner of Megaplex 17, Larry H. Miller, learned that the film was about two gay cowboys. The film’s cancellation brought up public debate all over Utah. From January 6, 2006, to January 31, 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of the cancellation showed both sides of the controversy and the power of communication as it shapes public debate.

Findings

The Brokeback Mountain vs. Larry H. Miller controversy began during a KCPW-FM interview with Miller and Jonathan Brown. The interview on the Salt Lake City public radio station was done on Thursday, January 5, 2006, the day before the film was released in theaters, and aired the next day. An article by Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 7 discussed the interview between Miller and Brown. According to the article, Brown said during the interview, “Miller was unaware of the storyline of Brokeback Mountain … until Brown described it to him Thursday.”

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Brandon Griggs also discussed Miller and Brown’s interview in his article, published January 11. The article said Miller’s initial response to booking the film was because the film had received seven Golden Globe nominations. Miller saw this as a sign of its “potentially broad appeal.” Toward the end of the radio interview Miller stated,“It is possible that the content of this [film] … is offensive enough to a large enough segment of the population that this is one that slipped by our screening process. Maybe I’ve been a little naive and not paid proper attention to it and let it slip through the cracks. If I have, then I made a mistake.”

Nothing in the interview made it sound like Miller would take matters to the extreme and completely cancel the film before it began playing. The interview made it sound like Miller would first see how audiences reacted to the film. If there was a negative response, then he would pull the film from showing. However, two hours after the interview, Miller canceled the show from playing.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune's Pat Bagley, appeared . Used with permission.

This cartoon, by the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Pat Bagley, appeared in the paper on January 10, 2006. Used with permission.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s website posted an update on the cancellation shortly after the decision to pull the movie from theaters appeared. The update, posted on January 6, stated, “The Megaplex 17 announced it was pulling the film late Thursday afternoon. The change-of-heart came too late to remove the title from the theater’s ads in today’s Salt Lake Tribune”

The update was the beginning of a media frenzy that included numerous editorials, columns, and letters to the editor. Of the articles published, most focused on Miller’s lack of response, how the film was doing in award season, the business aspect of the cancellation, the world’s reaction to the cancellation, and what the film was about — love. The issues at large, such as morals, civil liberties, and press bias were brought up through countless letters to the editors.

Means and McFarland were among the first journalists to report on the cancellation. In their article, published January 7 and titled, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” they discussed the details of the cancellation and what Focus Feature (the production company of the film) had to say about it. The article also interviewed Carol Adams about her reactions to the film’s cancellation. The local woman wanted to see the film and was saddened to learn that it had been canceled.

Articles also discussed  negative public relations, Miller’s continuous silence on the issue, and of course the world’s reaction. According to Lesley Mitchell’s article, published in The Salt Lake Tribune on January 12, “Miller’s silence has helped give the story international appeal.” Another article by Griggs, published January 15 and titled, “‘Brokeback Mountain’: Why all the fuss?,” discussed the huge reaction to the film and the cancellation. This article is the most blunt of any article published in The Salt Lake Tribune because Griggs stated the hard truth on why the film was pulled from the schedule: “Men having sex.” Griggs explained that the homosexual relationship was the reason why people were getting so upset. Griggs also addressed hypocritical morals when  he wrote, “How is a gay love story more morally offensive than other movies — such as ‘Hostel,’ a horror film that shows sadists fulfilling their depraved fantasies by paying to torture other people; or the stoner comedy ‘Grandma’s Boy,’ which features drug use in almost every scene — now playing at Miller’s theaters?” His questions and bluntness were met with countless letters on the matter by Utah’s citizens.

Similarly, Griggs’ article, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” published January 11, discussed the world’s reaction and Heath Ledger’s. Ledger was quoted as saying, “It’s all just really unnecessary” and “Personally I don’t think the movie is [controversial], but I think maybe the Mormons in Utah do. I think it’s hilarious and very immature of a society.” Griggs also reported, “Articles about the snub have made international headlines. NBC’s Jay Leno and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann joked about it on the air Monday night.” Steven Oberbeck’s article, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” published January 13, quoted Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think-tank in Salt Lake City. Mero stated, “Considering the conservative nature of our population, I’m sure a lot of people think: We’ll, it’s [Millers’] business and he’s entitled to do with it what he wants.”

The cancellation was something to talk about, and Utah’s citizens made sure their voices were heard. The letters were short, blunt, and very opinionated. One Salt Lake Tribune reader, Karla G. McGuigan, said the decision was an “encroachment into American citizens’ rights to civil liberties.” However, another reader, Bret A. Stapley, responded with, “Larry H. Miller is a private business owner who decides what is best for his own business. This is not a case of ‘government censorship’ or a civil liberty violation.”

Robert Seifert also questioned Larry H. Miller’s morals in a letter titled, “Miller’s moral compass.” Seifert, like Brandon Griggs, brought  up the hypocrisy of playing Hostel and not Brokeback Mountain. Seifert stated, “To sum up, pulling ‘Brokeback Mountain’ tells young people that being gay is unacceptable, so not pulling the movie ‘Hostel’ (being shown in the same theater complex) sends the message that torturing and mutilating other human beings is all right.” Harry A. Rodes disagreed in his letter, titled, “Morally correct decision”: “I would like to call on moral-minded people in Utah to actively support Miller’s businesses, especially his movie theater, to show the state and the country that there are still some people who have not given in to societal pressure to accept that which is immoral. He should be praised, not condemned.”

Readers also began saying that The Salt Lake Tribune was biased toward the gay community. Morgan T. Beach wrote in a letter titled, “Tribune’s gay bias,” published January 17: “I wonder how  many favorable articles and commentaries you would devote toward a movie of the same caliber, romanticizing the polygamous lifestyle.” The same day another Salt Lake Tribune reader, JoAnn Nokes, sent in a letter titled, “Get on with Life.” Nokes wrote, “Decisions are made daily. So accept it and let’s get on with life.”

Though The Salt Lake Tribune did indeed publish positive reviews for the film, it was not the only newspaper in Utah to do so. According to a journal article published in August 2008 by Brenda Cooper and Edward C. Pease, Brokeback Mountain was rated positively by several Utah newspapers. The article stated, “Despite the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) position that homosexuality is a sin and that practicing homosexuals may be excommunicated, the church-owned daily newspaper, the Deseret Morning News, gave the film three and a half stars out of four, and The Daily Herald of Provo, Utah — home of the LDS-owned Brigham Young University — also reviewed Brokeback positively.”

Conclusion

Utah’s reaction to Larry H. Miller’s decision to pull Brokeback Mountain from his theatre was one of great debate. The divide between Utah’s views on heterosexuality, ethics, morals, and business standards was showcased through the great response of Utah’s citizens. In 2009, Cooper and Pease published another article on the topic of Brokeback Mountain. The article, published in Western Journal of Communication, discussed how newspapers framed the controversy over the film. Cooper and Pease’s study found that of the 188 Brokeback-Miller items published during January 6, 2006-February 2006, 55 percent opposed the cancellation of the film and 45 percent  defended the cancellation. The study also found that 153 letters were published statewide. Of the 153, 48 percent were pro-Miller, and 52 percent were anti-Miller. Of those 153 letters, 34 were published in The Salt Lake Tribune. My research, along with Cooper and Pease’s research, proves that Utah was greatly divided on the issue. People discussed the film’s cancellation and topics related to Miller’s decision, including morals, business practices, civil liberties, press bias, and the amount of attention devoted to the issue.

Miranda A. Knowles is a senior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in communication and minoring in sociology.

Sources

JoAnn Nokes, “Get on with life,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 17, 2006, A8.

Morgan T. Beach, “Tribune’s gay bias,” The Salt Lake Tribune. January 17, 2006, A8.

Brandon Griggs, “Why all the fuss?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, D1.

Harry A. Rodas, “Morally correct decision,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 2006, AA2.

Robert Seifert, “Miller’s moral compass,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A12.

Steven Oberbeck, “Miller’s move: shrewd or rash?,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006, A1.

Brandon Griggs, “‘Brokeback’ squelch has spotlight on Utah again,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006, A1.

Bret A. Stapley, “Simple as That,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Lesley Mitchell, “Media pros say silence on pulling gay movie gives the story legs,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 2006.

Karla G. McGuigan, “Denial of Civil liberties,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 10, 2006.

Sean P. Means and Sheena McFarland, “‘Brokeback’ gets boot,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 7, 2006, A1.

“Update: Miller’s theater pulls Brokeback mountain,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 6, 2006.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “Framing Brokeback Mountain: How the popular press corralled the “Gay Cowboy Movie.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 25, no. 3 (Aug. 2008): 249-273.

Cooper, Brenda and Edward C. Pease. “The Mormons Versus the ‘Armies of Satan’: Competing Frames of Morality in the Brokeback Mountain Controversy in Utah Newspapers.” Western Journal of Communication 73, no. 2 (April-June 2009): 134-156.

The Wenner Family on Fremont Island

by ANDREW BUTTERFIELD

The Wenner family lived on Fremont Island from 1886-1891, the only family to ever call Fremont Island home. Uriah James and Kate Wenner are forever sealed into the history of Fremont Island, the Great Salt Lake and the state of Utah.

The Great Salt Lake is one of the largest lakes in the Western United States. The lake is surrounded by many islands, one of which is Fremont Island. Fremont is the third largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Discovered on September 9, 1843, by John C. Fremont and his four companions, Fremont described the island as “simply a rocky hill on which there is neither water nor trees of any kind although the Fremontia vermicularis, which was in great abundance, might easily be mistaken for timber at a distance.” Fremont was said to be so dissatisfied with the discovery that he named the island “Disappointment island.” (Miller, 219)

After Fremont and his companions had left the Rocky Mountain territory, the next group of explorers named the Mud Hen crew began investigating the Great Salt Lake. According to David E. Miller, the Mud Hen crew, the first known Mormon pioneers led by Albert Carrington, named Fremont Island “Castle Island,” a name that was commonly used by Mormon explorers during this time period. (Miller, 220)

A very important contributor to the history of Fremont Island is Howard Stansbury, who developed the first geographical outline of the Great Salt Lake. Stansbury had a meeting with Brigham Young, the pioneer of Mormonism and the migration to Utah, to develop the survey outline of the Great Salt Lake. Of the meeting, Stansbury declared, “ The impression was that a survey was to be made of their country in the same manner that other public lands are surveyed, for the purpose of dividing it into townships and sections.” (Madsen, 152) Stansbury knew of Fremont’s discovery and “in honor of him who first set foot upon its shore,” Stansbury revived the territory’s true name, Fremont Island. (Miller, 220-21) Using the created surveys, he determined that the island would excel as a territory for sheep herding.

A water spring on Fremont Island. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

A water spring on Fremont Island. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Fremont Island first served as a cattle territory organized and controlled by Henry Miller and his family in the late 1850s. The Miller family had established a fresh water spring on the southeastern tip of the island, the only true source of fresh water. The Miller family decided the island would be best for the sheep because of the lack of natural predators, restrictions in sheep migration, naturally rural land area, and the privacy the sheep would enjoy to keep them protected. (Eckman, and Miller, 161-62)

The story of the Wenners begins with their arrival in Salt Lake City in 1880. Uriah James Wenner launched a small law office, which transformed the family into some of Salt Lake City’s most successful and recognizable citizens. Eli A. Smith, a judge, was relieved of his duties due to a violation of the Edmunds Act of 1882. Salt Lake City Governor Eli H. Murray proclaimed in the September 9, 1882, Deseret News, “Know ye, that by virtue of the anthority in me vested, I, Eli H. Murray, Governor of said Territory, do hereby appoint” Wenner to fill the vacancy. The article reported that Murray had announced several new positions, one of which was probate judge of Salt Lake County. Uriah James Wenner had been tapped to serve on the bench. Wenner, a non-Mormon, accepted the position.

Shortly after his appointment, the community became skeptical toward the Wenner family due to their lack of interest in the dominant religion. Many opposed his rise to the title of Probate Judge of the county. According to the September 20, 1884, Desert News, “Mr. U.J. Wenner, was in dense obscurity, being almost totally unknown in Utah, until a few months ago Governor Murray gave him a bogus appointment to the office of Probate Judge of Salt Lake County, a position which is elective and within the gift of the people.”

Uriah Wenner’s time as judge was short-lived. In 1886, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and it was recommended the family move to a remote location to better his health. In the years leading up to his diagnosis, Wenner had become friends with the Miller family. Wenner had visited the Millers on Fremont Island several times. (Eckman, and Miller, 163-65)

The family's residence on Fremont Island. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

The family’s residence on Fremont Island. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

The story of the Wenners’ first purchase of Fremont Island is a hazy one, one that has not been confirmed. After two years witnessing the tranquility and privacy of the island, Uriah James Wenner had gone to the Union Pacific Railroad Company, which owned Fremont Island, and bought a portion of the territory under the Desert Land Act of 1877. (Eckman, and Miller, 164) Wenner acquired the most significant piece of land on the island, where the only fresh water supply was located. This was made in an attempt to move the Miller family off the island. With their sheep and livestock no longer having a sufficient water supply, they would not be able to survive. (Eckman and Miller, 164-65) Upon receiving the news that they were being evacuated, the Miller family, infuriated and betrayed, wrote to Union Pacific stationed in Omaha. By the time the Millers had received a reply from Union Pacific, they had already moved off the island. The letter stated that the Wenner family had no right to the land nor a record of purchasing property on Fremont Island. Jacob Miller, who had succeeded his father Henry, wanted to take the Wenners to court. However, due to his practicing polygamy, Miller decided against taking real action. Polygamy had been recently found unlawful and against the practice of the Mormon faith. The Wenner family officially purchased a vast majority of Fremont Island and in 1886 called Fremont home. (Eckman, and Miller, 171-73)

Life for the Wenner family had changed drastically. Kate Wenner, née Noble, who had always enjoyed a life of luxury, was now a housewife. According to the November 21, 1891, Dalles (OR) Daily Chronicle, she “cheerfully gave up her luxurious home in this city and went with him.” The original journey to Fremont Island took three days. “It seemed fun at first, but with calms, head winds, squalls, and seasickness,–for hours that treacherous body was like ‘a tempest in a teapot.’” (Noble, 225) By being able to rely on a boat shipment that came once or twice a month, the Wenner family rarely returned to the mainland. Kate Wenner addressed the matter in her personal account of life on Fremont by stating, “On that unsteady trip I made up my mind I would not take my family back to the mainland very soon, and perhaps I would wait until the lake dried up.” (Noble, 225)

Island living seemed to come naturally to the Wenner family. Kate Wenner wrote, “In the afternoon a swim in the lake, after supper a walk over the hill where a glorious sunset held us, and then the moon lit up our little world and hope built happy days ahead.” (Noble, 225) The three Wenner children seemed to be the greatest supporters of the move to the island. Like any family throughout history, Uriah and Kate Wenner set rules and restrictions. Living in semi-isolation, the Wenner adults did not have many worries about their children’s safety. In fact, there was “only one ‘do not’ on the children’s lives and that was not to go in the lake unless we were with them. If the briny water is swallowed it brings on a terrible strangulation!” (Noble, 226)

The Wenner family had been able to explore and rediscover life. The family was able to appreciate the natural beauties of both the island and of living in peace and solitude. These were the main highlights of their time spent on Fremont. Living in solitude forced the family to try new things. In “A True Story” of island life, Kate Wenner described an episode where she milked a cow: “His (Uriah Wenner) greatest surprise on the Island was my bucket of milk, and I am sure it was the cow’s greatest surprise too.” (Noble, 231) When the Wenner family was missing an ingredient or supply, they would simply say it was not needed, that it was an attempt at something new. That seemed to be the reality of island living, only the true necessities mattered, it was an eternal happiness for the Wenner family.

Unfortunately, the joyous times did not last. As the years went by, Uriah Wenner had begun losing his battle with tuberculosis. He stopped working, he needed the assistance of a walking cane, and when he was bedridden he was forced to call upon his wife for all his needs. Wenner died peacefully in 1891, lying in his bed on his beloved home, his island Fremont. According to Kate Wenner’s story, her husband’s final words to her were, “I love you, love the children.” (Noble, 232) With those words he rested for the final time. In a stunned fear, she used the island’s only distress signal with the mainland. Kate set off multiple fires on the highest hill, but it took several days until she was able to see a fire lit on the mainland shore. This signal meant that help was on its way.

Uriah Wenner's gravesite on Fremont Island. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Uriah Wenner’s gravesite on Fremont Island. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Several newspapers published accounts of Uriah’s death in 1891. According to the September 30, 1891, issue of the Ogden Standard Examiner, “The husband had expressed a desire to be buried on the island and his faithful wife determined to heed his request.” The Wenners had become a family loved by many. In another issue of the Standard Examiner, published on October 4, 1891, the paper wrote, “Many residents of this City and valley have been their guests and were charmed by the grace and refinement of the Islanders.”

After Uriah’s death, Kate and her children moved from the island. Shortly after their move, Kate died. Her second husband along with her family honored the request that she should be buried on Fremont Island, next to Uriah James Wenner. To this day Uriah and Kate Wenner have their graves on Fremont Island. Although currently owned by a different family, only the Wenner family called Fremont Island home. (Miller, 234-36)

Andrew Butterfield is a senior at The University of Utah. He is majoring in mass communication and minoring in sociology.

 Sources

Everett L. Cooley, “Great Salt Lake — Fremont Island p.13,” Utah State Historical Society, Mountain West Digital Library.

Everett L. Cooley, “Wenner, Uriah J. — Residence P.2,” Utah State Historical Society, Mountain West Digital Library.

Shipler Commercial Photographers, “Wenner, U. J. — Grave P.1,” Utah State Historical Society, Mountain West Digital Library.

Kate Y. Noble, “A Great Adventure on Great Salt Lake: A True Story,” Utah Historical Quarterly 33, no. 3 (July 1965): 218-236.

Faithful After Death,” The Dalles (Oregon) Daily Chronicle, November 21, 1891, 4.

J.H.K., “U.J. Wenner,” Ogden (Utah) Standard Examiner, October 4, 1891, 6.

A Heroic Woman,” Ogden Standard Examiner, September 30, 1891, 1.

The Alleged Reception,” Deseret News, July 23, 1884, 8.

Proclamation of the Governor,” Deseret News, September 9, 1882, 5.

Arave, Lynn. “Fremont Island is no disappointment,” Deseret News, April 16, 2009.

Eckman, Anne M. and David H. Miller. “Seymour Miller’s Account of an Early Sheep Operation on Fremont Island,” Utah Historical Quarterly 56, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 163-165.

Madsen, Brigham D. “Exploring the Great Salt Lake: The Stansbury Expedition of 1849-50,” Utah Historical Quarterly 56, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 148-159.