Eric D. Snider: Boy Journalist (Part 2)


(For background on this illuminating series of historical documents, please see Part 1.)

I kept these newspaper clippings in a photo album. To make maximum use of the space in the album, I would sometimes cut the columns up and rearrange the layout. Over time, some of the smaller clippings of clippings fell out of the photo album and were lost forever. Also, there were a few columns that I didn’t save at all, out of sheer negligence.

Desirous that every word I wrote when I was 10 be available to the world, the last time I visited my parents, I went to the Lake Elsinore public library and found all the old Sun-Tribunes on microfilm. The librarian boasted that the Lake Elsinore branch has the best microfilm reader in the entire Riverside County Public Library system, and it was indeed a splendid piece of machinery. It did not, however, have a way of printing copies of the things contained on the microfilm. (The librarian acknowledged that this was not ideal.) So my only option was to use my iPhone to take pictures of the columns as they appeared on the microfilm screen, then cobble those pictures into a single image. I did a lot of work, you guys, and I deserve a Pulitzer.



Reyes will ‘reach out,’ organize sports as prexy [1]
Elsinore School Student
New student body officers at Elsinore Elementary School are: Deabel Reyes, president; Kim McCoy, vice president; Michelle Ferguson, secretary; Tim Chamberlain, treasurer, and Tanya Valles, historian. [2]

Campaign Begins

Oct. 22, campaigning started for all student council representatives if they had five teacher signatures.

The three McCoys (Michelle, Kim and Kreg), put up a poster in the cafeteria that said, “Vote for the real McCoys! Vote for: Michelle McCoy for president, Kim McCoy for vice president, Kreg McCoy for treasurer!” Kreg also had a beautiful picture of Garfield. [3]

Tim Chamberlain for treasurer had two posters in the cafeteria. Both said, “Win with TIM!” Another Tim poster states, “T=True Tiger, I=Integrity, M=Money.” (I liked that one!)

Campaign Speeches

Campaign speeches were Friday. Here are some of the different things the candidates said: [4]

President — Alicia Meza, she plans to raise money for the school; Deabel Reyes, he’s new to this school and wants to reach out and help it grow. He also plans to organize sports; Michelle McCoy, wants to be active and wants to make her last year at Elsinore Elementary fun. (That one certainly wasn’t long and drawn out!)

Vice president — Kim McCoy, she’s been here six years and wants to promote school spirit; Casey Coughlin, he’s proud of our school. He also wants to pay back the teachers for educating him; Rebecca Martinez, she stated she had many good ideas of how to raise money.

Secretary — Michelle Ferguson, previously worked answering telephones and organizing files. She knows she can do her job; Melissa Turner, this is her first year running. She can use a typewriter. [5]

Treasurer — Tim Chamberlain, this is his second time to be treasurer; Kreg McCoy, he can manage money; Nisha Bunke, a responsible citizen. She promises to put forth her best effort;

Kathy Koras, it’s her second year at the school and first year on the student council. She spends money wisely. [6]

Historian — Krista Brown, she enjoys writing about things that happen; Tanya Valles, she says the most important job for the historian is to take pictures. [7]

Two Insta-polls

Room 1 took “insta-polls” Sept. 24 and Oct. 18. The class will take a final poll Nov. 2.

The poll went like this: Mrs. Sisco (room 1) chose some people to go to all the fourth, fifth and sixth grade classes to ask the students, “If the presidential election was today and you could vote, who would you vote for — Reagan, Mondale, or someone else?” [8]

First “insta-poll” results were: Reagan, 78 percent; Mondale, 17 percent; others, 5 percent. Second “insta-poll” results were: Reagan, 80 percent; Mondale, 15 percent; others, 5 percent.

Newspaper Drive

If you’ve got some old newspapers (or new newspapers for that matter) just lying around the house doing nothing but giving the kids something to clutter up the house with, tie ’em up (the newspapers, not the kids), and bring ’em on down to Elsinore Elementary School. [9] We’re trying to earn money for books and miscellaneous things that we need.

School Patriots

Friday was “Red, White and Blue” day. That day, kids could wear (quite naturally), red, white and blue. The winning class [10] was Mrs. Kennedy’s sixth grade class.


[1] I had never heard the term “prexy” before and had to ask my mom what it meant. Well, I guess I probably knew what it meant from the context. Mom said it was a legitimate term, though, and that the newspaper had not made a crazy mistake.

[2] There was no re-writing or organizing process with these columns. I would take a sheet of notebook paper, draw a line down the middle to separate it into two columns (I think this was to make it feel more like a newspaper to me?), and write up the news items in the order that they occurred or that I found out about them. Thus, when I submitted this column, the paragraph naming the winners was at the end, after I’d written about the campaign and the speeches. I now realize I had “buried the lede,” as they say in the journalism biz (“lede” is how they spell “lead” in the journalism biz).

[3] You’ll note that only one of the three McCoys was successful in winning elected office this year, even though Kreg had a beautiful picture of Garfield (presumably the cartoon cat, not the president).

[4] My matter-of-fact reporting style has been called “Perd Hapley-esque.”

[5] As I recall, in 1984, you had to be licensed to operate a typewriter.

[6] OR SO SHE SAYS. Why won’t you release your financial records, Ms. Koras?

[7] In a hard-fought ideological battle between a historian who would focus on the written word and one who would emphasize photography, the one taking pictures always wins. It was ever thus.

[8] Even at the time, I thought asking elementary school students which U.S. presidential candidate they would vote for was stupid. Like 9-to-11-year-olds have political opinions. What we were really asking was, “Who are your parents voting for?” Either way, the answer was Reagan. Also, the question has two grammatical errors and should have been phrased thus: “If the presidential election were today and you could vote, whom would you vote for — Reagan, Mondale, or someone else?”

[9] The place was Elsinore Elementary School, and that’s how I always referred to it in my column. But the byline and the sig always called it “Elsinore School,” which didn’t make sense because it was one of three schools that could have answered to that name (we had Elsinore Jr. High and Elsinore High, too). Why did the newspaper consistently call my school by the wrong name? I never knew.

[10] So did Mrs. Kennedy have the most students wear red, white and blue? Or were they measuring the amount of red, white and blue, regardless of how many students it took to get to that level? And is either method really an accurate way of measuring patriotism? Failing to ask these hard-hitting questions is one of my greatest regrets.



Fifth, sixth graders learn [1] by helping younger students
Elsinore School Student

A few fifth and sixth grade classes either have helped, or will be helping Mrs. Warner’s class with different projects.

Mrs. Warner teaches kids who are out of kindergarten, but not quite ready for first grade. [2]

Teacher Talks

Parent/teacher conferences are all this week.

There is no school today (Wednesday), and all other days are minimum days (kindergarten minimum schedule, same as every day; first through third grades, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and fourth through sixth grades, 8 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. [3]

Fire Extinguished

Yes, Oct. 31, although it wasn’t necessary, a fire extinguisher was finally produced when a sixth grade science project backfired and started a small fire.

At about 12:15 p.m., this newspaper-made volcano was blowing smoke near room 13, with a crowd of children watching.

Two kids picked up the plywood that the volcano was sitting on and look at the bottom of the board: The fire was burning its way through the plywood and coming out the other side! [4]

The people began throwing water on the Hawaiian-style, imitation volcano. [5] Someone (I believe it was the owner of the volcano, Clint Struck), yelled, “You can’t put it out, it’s a chemical fire!” [6]
Someone tried picking up the volcano off the plywood — first mistake; it burned him — second mistake; and he dropped it — third mistake. [7]

Luckily, [8] the smoke stack didn’t break.

Then someone else with gloves on turned the volcano over. Little red marks were all over the inside. Someone poured a pint of water over the hot spots and the fight was won; the battle of the blaze was over.

Five seconds later, a lady walked over with a fire extinguisher. [9]


Sometimes it is a slow news week at your elementary school. And then sometimes, suddenly, there is a FIRE! But not yet.

[1] I just want to point out that this headline makes an assertion that is not supported by the article. I never said anything about learning.

[2] There was probably a name for this program other than “kids who are out of kindergarten, but not quite ready for first grade.” Probably something shorter.

[3] Not only was this information useless to the newspaper’s readers, who surely already knew that their children were out of school early this week, but it’s missing its closing parenthesis. I should have been fired on the spot.

[4] It has the makings of a big-budget Hollywood disaster film. The fire was COMING OUT THE OTHER SIDE! The scientist yelled, “You can’t put it out, it’s a chemical fire!” But the president wouldn’t listen!

[5] Let me be clear, this was an imitation volcano, not an actual geological formation that spews magma.

[6] Here I imagine myself a reporter for the society pages, breathlessly describing the events at a recent soiree.

[7] The punctuation in this sentence is a bloodbath. Instead of dashes, I should have set off the “first mistake,” etc., in parentheses. Also, I feel like the second mistake — the volcano burning the guy — isn’t a mistake at all but the consequence of the first mistake of picking it up. And can it be described as a mistake to drop something that has burned you? Quite the opposite, really. I move that this unnamed person made only one mistake, and it was picking up the volcano.

[8] Is my concern here not for the burned student but for the structural integrity of the science project? That appears to be the case.

[9] Who? I dunno. Some lady.

More to come…