DOVER — It is amazing how often we find a close connection to Delaware State News history.
We have a wonderful feature about soon-to-be centenarian Randolph T. “Fred” Faulkner on the front of our People section today.
Staff writer Craig Anderson included that Mr. Faulkner was a printer after leaving the Army and that he worked at the Delaware State News.
I looked up his name in “From Diamonds to Deadlines,” a book written by Jack Smyth, who converted the Delaware State News from a weekly to the first daily newspaper in the capital city.
As it turns out, Mr. Faulkner was one of the initial people Mr. Smyth met when he ventured into the Delaware State News in November 1952 for a first look at the operation.
The Delaware State News was then located on North Street in Dover, in a white stucco building with the name of the paper written in blue letters across the front.
Mr. Smyth’s narrative of his first visit to Dover described things as being rather slow.
“Only one printer was working in the shop,” Mr. Smyth wrote in the book. “His name: Fred Faulkner.
“He was willing to talk shop as he worked. I noted that all the equipment was fairly new, as was the plant. An 8-page flat bed press printed their two weeklies. Commercial printing presses were in a separate room. Fred was making up forms for the printing of a legislative calendar.”
Mr. Faulkner, a World War II veteran, will be turning 100 on Oct. 7.
Mr. Smyth’s amusing account of his first trip to Dover painted a picture of a different era in the state capital.
Our longtime readers by now know the story well. Mr. Smyth, who once owned a jewelry store in Renovo, Pennsylvania, got his start as a weekly newspaper owner and editor in the same town.
An industry friend told him about Dover, noting it was the only capital city in the nation at the time without a daily newspaper.
So it was an opportunity and a challenge he took on.
The visit in fall 1952 was a scouting trip. He arrived on a train in Dover and proceeded to “The Richardson” — a majestic 19th-century hotel that once stood at the triangle where Loockerman and State streets and Kings Highway meet.
The clerk gave him the choice of any room he wanted.
“My second floor room was off a corridor wide enough for a company of soldiers to march down in full formation,” Mr. Smyth wrote.
After eating at “The Snake Pit” in the Richardson basement, Mr. Smyth walked to the Delaware State News building and asked to see then-owner John Hampton Barnes. A receptionist said he was out of town and welcomed him to walk in and look around after hearing he was a newspaperman there on business.
That is when he met Mr. Faulkner, who gave him a head start on the research he needed to start a daily newspaper.
After leaving the State News, he walked to Legislative Hall and spotted Gov. Elbert Carvel — who Mr. Smyth described as “a giant of a man.”
Mr. Smyth had only been in Dover for an afternoon and already received a friendly wave from the governor.
Of course, that speaks to the nature of little Delaware.
On May 1, 1953, Mr. Smyth took over ownership of the Delaware State News and Dover Index, both weeklies.
On Sept. 14, 1953, the first edition of the Delaware State News as a daily was published.
Mr. Faulkner’s story reminds us that Veterans Day is just around the corner.
Once again, the Delaware State News plans to publish “A Tribute to Our Heroes.”
The special section dedicated to all who served our country will be included with the Nov. 7 edition.
We are welcoming contributions from readers.
Submit a photo and include the name, date served and military branch
We welcome tributes in person at our office at 110 Galaxy Drive, Dover, from 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays and 9-11 a.m. Fridays.
The deadline is Oct. 22.
If you submitted a tribute in previous years, it will automatically be included again this year.
There is no charge for the tributes.
Andrew West is executive editor of the Delaware State News.