Morgan Hurley, Daughter of La Mirada Lamplighter Managing Editor Dick Hurley, Remembers Early La Mirada and Welcomes the New Lamplighter. Look for this story in this weekends edition of the new Lamlighter.
When I first heard that the La Mirada Lamplighter might be stepping back into the spotlight in my beloved home town, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that.
After all, I was born right around the time my father, Richard (Dick) Hurley really began to come into his own with the original Lamplighter newspaper.
My older brother Jet was a few years older but away each week at school in Riverside, so until my sister Palmer and brother Blaze were born five and six years later, consecutively, the Lamplighter was my only sibling.
I say sibling because even though it was my dad's profession, my household lived and breathed that newspaper and it was an intimate part of my own childhood and life from my earliest days.
As a youngster, I proudly greeted every adult I ever met with, "do you know that little green newspaper, the Lamplighter? That's my daddy's paper."
I reveled in my dad's profession, accompanying him to the office while he worked, first in the stationery store down from Thrifty's in the Mall and then in an office in Ed Spitalnick's Realty office on Adelfa.
I can still smell the ink from the typing tape on his old fashioned Remington Rand typewriter, and the loud hum of his IBM Selectric in his later years.
Dad often brought me along when he had to do a photo shoot at public events, where he always held his Yashica Mat twin lens camera arms-length high above his 5'6" frame, eyes looking up into the viewfinder, to get the best angle and shot over the crowd.
I was one of the first (if not the first) news-girls in town in 1975. I got up at 4 am every Thursday and 6 am every Saturday to stuff, fold, rubber-band and deliver up to 50 papers on my bicycle, to my neighborhood route , sandwiched between La Mirada Blvd and the Biola Creek.
I began writing youth articles for the Lamplighter at 14, which lead to larger, more in depth reporting and at 16, I finally got my own column, Morgan's Memos.
I had my picture next to my headline, just like my dad had his, but in the two and a half years I had the column, it landed on the same page as my dad's only one time.
He taught me early on the difference between real news and a story written with a journalist's slant -- something that is hard to discern today. He explained how news, with just the facts of what happened, is always on the front page, and how no reputable news writer should ever interject his or her own personal opinion in any story there.
That was saved for the opinion page, which in the Lamplighter, was just on the inside front page.
He also taught me the importance of the stories that were laid out "above the fold" of the newspaper. Those were the hotbed issues, the stories that needed to catch the reader's attention, because they would generally be the first story read.
Over the years, I watched my dad's "celebrity" go through its highs and lows, and as a family, sometimes we were even affected.
His "Editor's Notebook" on page two started with an opinion piece, generally focused on his lead story of the day, followed by his "Scratchpad," where he wrote about the goings-ons of the regular folk who worked hard and raised their families around La Mirada.
Politics were quite testy, even back then, and because his opinions regarding those running for city council mattered so much to his reader, he was often a target of negative energy around election time.
He lost some close friends over politics and his other editorials on hot-bed items during those thriving, growing, golden days of the great city of La Mirada, but he gained a lot more than he lost, and he taught me a lot about integrity, just by his example.
To this day I still have people who come up to me when I am at home or write to me or on La Mirada based websites, and say "I was a paperboy for the Lamplighter" or "Your dad put me on the front page" or "I still have the clipping from the time I was in the Lamplighter."
That paper meant something to all of us. It was Dick Hurley's paper but it and even he, belonged to all of us.
It encapsulated our city, sharing the glory of all those wonderful civic events we had over the years, like the Angel Tree, decades of Fiesta de Artes, the many parades down Rosecrans and La Mirada Blvd (some bearing Presidential candidates and movie stars), the annual Fourth of July celebrations at Regional Park, and the larger than life Bicentennial celebration at La Mirada High School stadium.
It boasted of its CIF sports teams and told the story of many Olympic and college-bound high school stars, like Debbie Heald and Doug Widtfeldt. None of the dozen or schools in the city, ever felt left off of its pages. Everyone shared equal time.
The VFW, the Kiwanis Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, all of them told their stories through this paper.
When city hall outgrew its small space in the Mall, the Lamplighter meticulously reported on each bid, the design process and the future that is now the current City Hall and Library. Construction of the entire city hall complex was approximated at $554,000 in 1967.
Growth and especially annexation, was a constant topic on its pages.
It offered reviews of plays at Neff Barn, profiled bands from the Battle of the Bands at the La Mirada Theater, and told the pros and cons of having an enclosed Mall that had no big name stores to support it and help it thrive.
The Lamplighter also shared sad stories, too.
My dad made sure every La Mirada casualty in Vietnam was profiled, and done so with heart and dignity.
That was always the hardest part of his job, he once told me, speaking to the families who had lost a loved one, whether it was to war in a far away land, or by a car accident in town.
The Lamplighter was La Mirada.
In 1965, on the 10th anniversary of the Lamplighter, Estelle Troupe, one of its founders, a English teacher at Excelsior High School in Norwalk and an early mayor and member of the city council, wrote, "The years have passed, the city has bloomed, and the paper, more than any other single force, made it happen."
In that same article, Troupe described someone who would change the course of things the day he walked through the newspaper's office door at the old McNally Ranch Railroad Station, along Stage Rd near Valley View Blvd. (The station was the only vacant building in town in 1955.)
"One fine day while I was office girl at the old station, on duty every morning, chaperoned by my pre-schoolers, a very young man with a face like a medieval altar boy came in."
"'Have typewriter, have time,' he told me. The altar boy was Dick Hurley and the rest is history."
The old Lamplighter is history, but now, some 24 years after that popular masthead ran it's last cycle on the printing machine, there is a new opportunity and place for a paper in La Mirada and its residents of today.
I'm proud my father's legacy will be coming back to the people of La Mirada through this well known name and I hope occasionally I can continue to share some stories from the original La Mirada Lamplighter and its hey-day, with the readers of today.
I wish to thank Brian Hews and his Cerritos Community Newspaper Group for embarking upon this endeavor. He reached out to me last September to ask questions about the old Lamplighter and I had no idea that it would lead to this.
To Hews and his staff and the new Associate Editor, my friend Tony Aiello, who has for many years tried to bridge the gap in La Mirada with the loss of the Lamplighter, I wish you all much success.
I know my dad is looking down beaming with pride, too.
He once told me he wanted to be buried at Olive Lawn "in a sitting position, facing City Hall," so he could "keep an eye on them."
Well, I know he will be keeping an eye on this new evolution of the newspaper he commandeered for so many years.
Thank you for reaching out to me and the best of luck to all of behind the scenes making this happen and to you, the citizens of La Mirada.
Morgan M. Hurley
Pictured: The late Dick Hurley