Charles W. Baum
remembers quite vividly his
start in the newspaper business , but unlike most journalists, his
first memory isn,t of his
first published story.He
was way too young for that.Baum
, whose family owned the News-Herald
, started working at the paper as a youngster, coming in every day after school to do chores like sweeping the floors, cleaning the toilets, and picking cigarette butts out of the lead on the floor in the production area so the lead could be re-melted and reused on the press.
Little Charlie was an ,errand boy,, too, and one of his
favorite jobs was getting snacks for ,the guys in the shop., He
,d run across the street to Mark Fehr,s store and pick up Cokes and candy and TastyKakes and, sometimes, egg sandwiches.
,I literally grew up in the business,, Baum
said in a recent interview. ,I enjoyed the folks I worked with out in the shop , and the whole newspaper thing.,Baum
, 55, left the newspaper business this month as he
prepares to campaign for the office of magisterial district judge in Perkasie.
The Baum family was associated with the paper for almost 90 years.Baum
,s grandfather, also named Charles
, purchased the Central News
in 1914, and built the Central News
building next to the old Perkasie firehouse at Seventh and Arch streets in 1920.His
son, Carlton, joined the business in the 1930s and served as business manager and publisher until his
death in 1982.
remembers those days well. ,Every Wednesday afternoon, we were totally focused on nothing but getting the paper out , hopefully on time,, he
Sometimes it got a little crazy, he
recalls, but his
mother kept the boys (back then, they were all boys) in line. ,For a lot of them, this was their first job,, he
said, noting they,d often come in ,all wound up, after school but his
mother kept the circulation end of the operation running smoothly.
At the time, though, young Charlie
was more impressed with the carriers than he
was by his
mother,s skill. ,It was cool to be able to hang out with the older guys,, he
said. ,I thought, ,That,s the next step up.I,d like to be a newsboy., ,
Of course, he
started by standing out front of the building hawking papers to passing motorists , ,I had to try to make change for a quarter,, he
laughed , and later ,I advanced to a real paperboy.,He
route on his
bicycle or with a wagon, delivering newspapers from Third Street down into South Perkasie.Baum
grew up knowing he
,d make a career in the newspaper business, but admits now that ,I thought I,d be more in the production end, since I grew up in the shop, and had more mechanical training.,A 1967 graduate of Pennridge High School, he learned more aspects of the business while earning a bachelor,s degree in journalism-printing management from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1971.
flirted with a job offer from the production department of the Wall Street Journal
opted to return to Perkasie and the News-Herald
The late J. Rollin ,Buzz, Cressman was sitting at the editor,s desk at the time, but getting ready to retire.Cressman taught Baum
the editorial side of the business and prepared him to take over the editor,s duties. Meanwhile, Baum married his college sweetheart, the former Dawn Warner of Gettysburg, who was a business retailing major and now works part time as reference assistant at Pierce Library.
They became the parents of two children: Amanda, now 26 and teaching ninth-grade algebra in the Central Bucks School District
, and Tim, now 23 and a customer service manager for Sussman Honda.Although they both were newspaper carriers, neither was interested in a newspaper career.The News-Herald
was more than just a newspaper business; it was a commercial printing business, too, printing wedding invitations, letterheads, business cards, forms and more.Baum and his father worked together from 1971 until 1982, when Carlton died and Charlie inherited all of the jobs: publisher, president, business manager and editor of the News-Herald.He
covered meetings and sports events and did design and layout work on each week,s issue, and also worked with the commercial printing end, doing sales, customer service, ordering supplies, and more.
The office moved to a building on Seventh Street near Park Avenue, and employed about 10 people in the production department, or ,shop,, as well as two advertising sales representatives and a couple of office workers.
,We just sort of went along by the seat of our pants,, explained Baum
, who regularly worked 60- to 70-hour weeks.
While there was a staff photographer, Baum
was an editorial ,staff of one, for quite a few years until he
hired a sports editor , who was also responsible for writing a Know Your Community story each week , and after his
father,s death, hired John Gerner as news editor.
As technology changed, the printing of the newspaper was contracted out, first to the Reporter in Lansdale, and then to Montgomery Newspapers in Fort Washington, but the commercial printing was still done in Perkasie.
The community didn,t change a whole lot, Baum
said, until after the Perkasie fire in 1988. ,There were the same merchants, the same advertisers,, he
But after the fire, which started at Shelley,s lumberyard and destroyed a number of businesses in downtown Perkasie, ,stores started closing up,, Baum
said.,That really hurt us in the newspaper business,, he
said. ,A lot of our longtime and prime advertisers were going by the wayside , a lot of good, local merchants [left].
,One by one they closed , and eventually, we had to follow them.,
As car dealers and grocers left the area, and banks and stores merged, the paper lost more and more advertisers , its ,bread and butter,, Baum
said.Eventually, the publisher came to accept the prevailing philosophy: that ,everybody had to get bigger or you weren,t going to survive.
,It took me some years to come to accept that that would happen,, Baum
said, adding that if his
father were still alive, ,I think he
would have said, ,Hey, if you want this paper to survive, you,d better do it., ,
In 1998 the Baum family sold the newspaper to Montgomery Newspapers and the printing operation to Labelcraft.The building on Seventh Street was sold to Prodesco Inc.
, and the staff of the News-Herald
joined the staff of the Souderton Independent (also part of Montgomery Newspapers) at the office on Route 113 at County Line Road. Charlie Baum , also known as ,Chuck,, ,CB,, ,Baumie, and other nicknames throughout the community , remained with the News-Herald as a staff writer and associate editor.