“STOP THE PRESSES!” Cynthia Long, has only been able to effectively shout that one time in her life, but it was for a very good reason. Her father, Albert “Mickey” James, the “Syracuse Journal” owner and publisher, had published top secret, surprise details about the 1953 Syracuse High School Junior-Senior prom. What Mickey did next will warm your heart.
Each month, we strive to capture the stories and the lives of Hamilton County people who have ventured beyond the borders of the county line; to reflect on the people and moments in Hamilton County history that have shaped who they are today. This month’s “Where Are They Now?” visits with Cynthia (James) Long and Richard James, the two youngest children of Albert and Rowena James, the owners and publishers of the Syracuse Journal in the 1930’s through 1965. Their older brother, Robert James, Syracuse High School Class of 1949, passed away in 2016, but Cynthia and Richard shared their memories of growing up in and around Syracuse and being a part of documenting the stories that would become today’s Hamilton County history.
In preparing for the 1953 prom, Cynthia and the junior class acquired very special French party favors that would be the surprise decoration and gift to their classmates, something unique and normally not attainable in Southwest Kansas. The Paris theme was a secret, but Mickey published a story in “The Syracuse Journal,” spilling all the secret details. This paper would be in every home on the Thursday before Saturday’s prom. Cynthia remembered, “I was screaming and crying and jumping up and down. Dad stopped the presses, rewrote the article entirely, and reprinted those pages.” Mickey James protected the secret prom theme for the Class of 1953, and his restored his daughter’s faith in his ability to protect her, as well. “He was such a kind man,” she reflected quietly.
Cynthia was the second James child, born on November 19, 1936, in the Donahue Hospital during The Great Depression. Richard followed, weighing more than ten pounds, on July 9, 1941, also born at the Donahue, and both with bright red hair like their mother. They lived at 321 N. Gates Street in a pink, stucco house, located on the southeast corner of Gates Street and Avenue D. They had a fish pond in the back yard. The Syracuse Journal was in the office next to the Ames Hotel, located at Main and Avenue B. Her father owned both, so they grew up learning the business of newspaper publishing, unless young Richard felt the need to explore. Richard loved watching the trains and remembered, “It was World War II at that time. There were lots of trains, hauling soldiers from training in the west to the East Coast where they would board the boats to go to Germany. There were a lot of trains going through Syracuse then.” As a small child, between the ages of four and five, Richard frequently rode his tricycle to the tracks to watch the trains, visit with the railroad crews, and explore. As the crews were working on the trains, tracks, and signals, their wives would be on the train cars and would welcome him aboard for cookies. One time, they took Richard on a train ride to Coolidge. Richard knew where he was, his new friends at the railroad knew where he was, but his family did not. Knowing this was a favorite place for him to visit, the family found his tiny tricycle near the tracks, yet no sign of Richard. To everyone’s relief, the train reversed at Coolidge and returned Richard safely home to Syracuse.
As a slightly older boy of 5 or 6 years old, now riding on two wheels, Richard returned to the tracks to enjoy his beloved trains. As one train sat on the tracks, Richard parked his bike by the empty tracks and decided to count the cars in this lengthy train. He let the ties be his path to the end of the stagnant train. The solitude of his boyhood world was abruptly interrupted by the familiar blast of the train horn. Richard turned to find a train barreling right for him, but worse yet, his bicycle that was on the tracks. He ran with all of his might, snatched his bicycle, and removed himself from near catastrophe. He remembered, “It was really close!” As with any story of childhood calamity and mischief, this was the first time his older sister had heard of his near-death experience. Richard, now nearing 80, kind of chuckled. The James family attended church at the Syracuse United Methodist Church, both at the old location on Gates and Avenue B where the Masonic Lodge is currently located, but also in the new and current location on Main Street and Avenue E. Their father, Mickey James, taught the children’s Sunday School class. Cynthia hypothesized that her father taught the class because Richard was so naughty that no one else would teach his class. The church’s beloved organist, Willa Dulin, was music teacher to the James children.
Mickey wrote and published the paper in the office in Syracuse, where Cynthia started working early. Mickey would send young Cindy to first collect delinquent accounts because, after all, no one could refuse an adorable, red-headed child in pigtails who was there to collect a few dollars for the newspaper subscription. She graduated to securing advertisements from local businesses as she grew older, in her early teens. Mickey had hoped that his sons, Richard or Robert, would want to learn and take over the business when he was ready to retire.
Cynthia continued her services to the family business by writing and proofreading copy, answering the phone, some Linotype, and covering the night shift at the Western Union Telegraph Office at the Ames Hotel. Cynthia laughed, “I don’t know why the Western Union office was open all night. We never received a single telegram in all those years I worked overnight.” She was, however, startled as a gentleman visiting a hotel guest was intoxicated and unsteady as he descended the stairs of the hotel, lost his balance, and tumbled all the way to the bottom, getting his head stuck in the banister. As the man recovered from the fall and recognized his inconvenient predicament, head still suck in the banister, he chuckled, “Aw, Miss Cindy, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
The highlight of Cynthia’s Syracuse High School experience was her participation in the band, “I loved the band. It was so fun.” The band director was Mr. Charles Howard, who led her and good friend Connie Mayhew in the clarinet section, as well as the rest of the band. The most poignant memory of her band years was a band trip to Wichita. The band stopped for lunch at the Woolworth’s lunch counter; however, the staff seated and prepared to serve everyone in the band, except their classmate and friend, Jean Jones, simply because she was black. This was the first time many of them had experienced segregation and blatant racism against one of their own. What would they do? Without hesitation, Cynthia remembered, “The entire band got up and left.”
She was a member of Rainbow Girls, a teen organization affiliated with Eastern Star and Masonic Lodges. She chuckled, “I think the main purpose [of the organization] was to keep us all virgins.” She held the office of Outer Observer, which watched the door to assure boys didn’t come in. She was also the Worthy Advisor, a leadership position. At their meetings, Cynthia remembered, “Women would speak and give advice to keep us away from boys.”
Cynthia remembered her physical education class with white jumpsuits that had elastic around the legs of the shorts. She did not remember these outfits fondly as a part of her high school. However, “Mighty as Steel, Strong as Ore, The Senior Class of ’54!” was the class chant, creatively penned by the “beloved” 1954 SHS Class President, Warren “Boz” Hartshorn. She remembered how the class loved Boz and the fun times they all had together. In her Senior year, Cynthia was also elected Band Queen. On weekends, she and her friends would watch movies at the Northrup Theater, “a lovely theater,” which served popcorn only. No drinks were allowed, as they didn’t want to ruin the interior of the theater with sticky soda spilled on the floors.
In June, 1959, The Syracuse Journal would celebrate a once-in-a-career investment of a new printing press. Richard was photographed on the new run at the feed board of the new printing press. June Wells, the Linotype Operator was the Linotype Operator and Chief Printer, working with the molten lead in the printing process. “June was such a character, and so strong. She was a good worker who loved our daddy and enjoyed working for him.” Cynthia remembered the incredible process as burners were placed under where the paper was running through the process to cut down on the static electricity. If the static built up, it would cause the sheets of paper to twist up and bind up the machine, wasting countless pages of the paper, not to mention precious time. Mickey would eventually train his successor, Dick Holdren, who bought the paper when Mickey retired with the sole goal of just playing golf, which he did.
Following high school graduation in 1949, the oldest, Robert James, attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, where he studied Engineering. He worked at The Fuller Brush Company in Great Bend, Kansas, where he and his family lived for many years until his death in 2016.
Cynthia graduated in 1954, and attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas; however, the climate of eastern Kansas caused extreme allergic reactions. A physician advised her to move to a different climate, so after two years of college, she moved to Colorado Springs. At that time, having two years of college and newspaper experience, she was able to secure a job at a newspaper. Her roommate had a boyfriend in the Navy, so, contrary to her father’s advice and concern, they moved to San Diego, California. They found a rental house and had to find jobs nearby that they could walk to. Cynthia was hired as an Engineering Aid at General Dynamics, where she calculated the data from test planes, in a large pool of other Aides, sitting in rows and rows of desks in a large factory-sized room. She clarified, “I did what computers do now.”
One day, while sitting at her desk, a dried apricot came flying across the room and landed on her desk. Startled, she blurted out, “What’s that?!?” A low voice, in a character tone responded, “That’s my ear.” On this day, she was introduced to Robert Long and his nod to artist Vincent Van Gogh’s efforts to woo his love by cutting off his ear and delivering it to the object of his affection. Regardless, Robert’s unconventional pickup line and creative use of dried fruit, made a connection and sparked a romance. Robert and Cynthia Long were married on January 31, 1958. They traversed the country to find more challenging engineering jobs on the East Coast and raised two children, Mike Long, currently a software developer in Winchester, Virginia, and Melissa (Long) Etchberger, who sadly died in 1996. Cynthia is widowed and currently resides in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Richard, the ornery youngest child who enjoyed breaking windows and street lights with an arm and accuracy that should have sent him to the Major League, graduated in 1959 from SHS, joined the Air Force and became a jet mechanic. Following his military service, Richard took those skills and became and aircraft mechanic for Frontier Airlines, later purchased by Southwest Airlines. He has been married to his wife for sixty years and had three children, Ronnie James, who played football for the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who is currently an Engineer for General Electric in Cincinnati, Ohio; Judy Hagedorn, a nurse in Brighton, Colorado; and Theresa Hinz, who graduated from the University of Colorado and was recruited to the WNBA, where she played basketball for several years. Theresa is currently the Fire Chief for a Fire Department near Denver, Colorado.
Richard had to end his part of the interview early to help family with a project. Cynthia filled in some of the details, proud that her “dear little brother” not only turned his love and fascination with massive machines used for public transportation into a career, but also into his hobbies. He made extravagant and intricately detailed model air planes that he flew in model air plane clubs and competitions. He fashioned wood and fiberglass into boats, one of which was purchased by Cynthia’s family.
When Richard’s nephew, Mike Long, got married, Richard and his family flew to Virginia to attend the wedding. Their flight back to Denver was in very close time and proximity to the wedding, so the family went directly to the airport, still wearing their wedding clothes. At the airport, the airline crew announced that the flight was delayed because of mechanical issues with the plane, words no traveler ever wants to hear. Not Richard, however, this was his time to shine. Richard stepped forward, showed his credentials to the airline officials and asked, “Can I take a look at it?” The airline provided him with a pair of all-too-familiar coveralls and put him to work. In short order, Richard had the problem diagnosed and repaired. He and the other passengers flew to Denver, Colorado, on that very plane. Richard continues to live in Greeley, Colorado, with his wife.
In reflecting on her time in Syracuse and the people she has known and loved, who have or still live there, she emphatically noted, “I know they’re very strong if they live in that climate.” The diverse temperatures, severe weather, drought, and inhospitable winds make living in Southwest Kansas a challenge – not a place for the faint of heart.
KDHE amends travel quarantine list State of Colorado removed, specific Colorado counties added TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has amended its travel quarantine list to remove the state of Colorado but has added more than 20... [More]
On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, Gary Venneberg took his final ride from Mesa, Arizona to Syracuse, Kansas in the saddlebag of his brother's motorcycle. His brother, Greg, brought Gary's ashes back to Syracuse to be laid in the family plot. Greg journeyed 981 miles on his Harley Davidson... [More]
KDHE amends travel quarantine list TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has amended its travel quarantine list to add Colorado and the countries of Cabo Verde, India, Maldives and Seychelles. Several locations are removed from the list... [More]
Over the weekend the promise of rain brought hope to many farmers desperate for some moisture on their wheat. Instead, emergency alerts went off that a tornado was spotted somewhere nearby. As many headed to their basements, a wall of dust came upon us with gusts of 59 knots... [More]
Last Saturday a small group of walkers descended upon Hamilton County. Walkers or Volksporters, walk 5k’s or 10k’s all over the country, some all over the world. This particular group was led by the Sunflower Sod Stompers from Topeka. Their walk began and... [More]
A woman Driving Under the Influence (DUI) on Main Street in Syracuse on Tuesday morning caused a three vehicle wreck. Thankfully no one was hurt. At 5:07 AM Drewsilla Hope Escamilla of Lakin, Kansas, was driving south on Main Street when she swerved to the east side of... [More]
It’s Friday morning and City Administrator Brian Bloyd is using a blower to clean the sidewalks before he drives the street sweeper up and down Main Street in preparation for the annual Crusin’ Into Summer Car Show. The National Honor Society students gather... [More]
The Syracuse Journal is proud to announce we are now a 2021 Kansas Press Association award winning newspaper. There were 2100 entries across the state. We won 15 AWARDS!! We had five first place awards, four second place awards, and six third place awards. Krista... [More]
In the movie Big Hero 6, the main character Hiro is coasting and not achieving his potential. Feeling sorry for himself for having lost his parents and directionless, his brother brings him to his college and introduces him to his professor. The professor engages him in conversation... [More]
How do you handle failure? Honestly, I am terrible at it. I spent years with the belief that I was no good versus my decisions were bad. And never once did I see that it was learning experiences. I just saw all the bad and it was mounting. In case no one told you that attitude... [More]
I shared a cute and funny TikTok video with my cousins. TikTok if you don’t know is an app of short video clips. Some funny, political, tips and tricks for cleaning, how to maximize utilization of your iPhone and much more. My cousin was adamant he would never use TikTok... [More]
I am a wife. I am a mom. I own a business. I have a house to take care of a child to get places a family to feed and bills to pay. We have animals to take care of. I have responsibilities! And I am blessed to have so much on my plate! I remember the times my plate was empty... [More]
You know what I am really good at? I can see what you all need to do to be better. That person over there needs to work out more. You, over there, you need to stop complaining. And that one there, you need to do better at time management. As I celebrated Easter this year, I... [More]
Neale Donald Walsh, author of Conversations with God said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” How do you do with different and change? I like to think I love change but it turns out I only love the change that I create. If someone else changes something... [More]
As I grapple with the severity of today’s issues of gun control, racism, immigration, and vaccine passports I am overwhelmed. Maybe it’s great that issues are coming to a head. Or maybe it’s terrifying because the last presidencies as well as this one are... [More]
Have you ever tried to teach your child a concept? And you try over and over and over again yet nothing seems to work. You get exasperated and frustrated with them. You have tried soft and kind harsh and serious and still nothing. You know they are smart great kids but in this... [More]
Baseball: The Bulldogs faced the Goodland Cowboys at home on Thursday, April 8, losing game one, 2-22 and game two, 1-17. Head Coach Dustin Doze said the Bulldogs really struggled throwing strikes again and they had too many errors. We need to clean things up if we want to... [More]
One year ago, athletes and coaches were beginning practice for their spring sport, some practicing during spring break, others enjoying the break from school. Soon they found out their break was extended a week, some with great joy, others with apprehension. Then came the unfortunate... [More]
Substate began and ended quickly but these Varsity teams left it all out on the court. In heartbreaking last second baskets, our basketball season was over. The boys lost by two points in the last five seconds and the girls lost by three. A wrap up of the season will come in... [More]
The SHS Bulldogs faced the 4-A Holcomb Longhorns for the final home game of the season, with the varsity teams unable to win. The boys will be the number three seed in first sub state match up at home, Monday, March 1, against the number 6 seed, Stanton County. This will be the... [More]
The Syracuse Jr. High basketball season has come to end following the High Plains League Tournament last Saturday. And what a season it was. It began when Head coach Jeff Mathias resigned from basketball due to his wife Tori’s health concerns. “The kids love... [More]
The varsity Bulldogs have finished the annual High Plains League Tournament and now looking toward the rest of the season. They will travel to Johnson to face the Stanton County Trojans Friday, January 29. Junior Varsity boys and girls will play at 3:45, varsity girls... [More]
Syracuse High School varsity basketball teams began the High Plain League Tournament this week. The Monday Tuesday games were hosted by Stanton County and the Thursday, Friday Saturday games will be in Syracuse. According to Athletics Director, Dan Delgado, this is the... [More]
The Syracuse High School boys varsity basketball team is having a record year! With Tuesday night’s 58-22 win against Moscow, the Bulldogs have secured the number two seed in the upcoming High Plains League Tournament (HPL) held at Syracuse January 11, 12, 14, 15... [More]
Emogene (Oliver) Ochs passed away on Friday, May 7, 2021 at the age of 96, at the Hamilton County Hospital, in Syracuse, Kansas. She was born on July 31, 1924 in Syracuse, Kansas the daughter of Oscar Marion Oliver and Emma Louise (Beu) Oliver. Emogene began her life in Syracuse,... [More]
MERLE RAY NEUGEBAUER May 8, 1953 - April 28, 2021 A Memorial Service for Merle Neugebauer will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at Valley Memorial Funeral Chapel in Holly, Colorado with Pastor Kathy Leathers officiating. Per Merle’s request cremation... [More]
Margaret Elizabeth (te Velde) Houtsma, age 81, of Syracuse, Kansas went home to Jesus on Monday, April 19, 2021. Margaret was born on July 8, 1939 in Artesia, CA. She was the first of nine children born to Harm and Zwaantina (Deurwaarder) teVelde. Margaret... [More]
Erica Dawn Schulz, age 47, passed away at her home in Syracuse, Kansas on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. She was born on March 8, 1974 in Syracuse, Kansas, the daughter of Patrick Dean Riley and Harriet Joan (Frazier) Riley. Erica began her life in Syracuse and grew up in various... [More]
Funeral Services for Holly, Colorado resident, Judy Grogan will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at the Holly United Methodist Church with Pastor Kathy Leathers officiating. Interment will follow in the Holly Cemetery. Visitation for Judy will be... [More]
Troy Logan Cartwright was born in Tribune, Kansas on December 12, 1960 to Lowell and Jan (Peterson) Cartwright of Kendall, Kansas. Troy passed away April 13, 2021 at his home in Syracuse, Kansas. His growing up years were spent on the farm north of Kendall. Troy graduated... [More]
Jerald Allen Bushman was born in Blackwell, Oklahoma, on March 27, 1931, to Herschel and Pearl (Pittman) Bushman. Jerald passed from this earthly life to his heavenly home on April 8, 2021, at his home in Enid, Oklahoma, at the age of 90 years and 12 days. A memorial service... [More]
Beverly Finkenbinder, 77, of Loveland passed away Sunday, March 28, 2021, surrounded by her family. The youngest of three children, Beverly was born in Emporia, Kansas in 1943 to Aaron & Geraldine Bailey. She graduated from Syracuse High School in May 1961 and in June married... [More]
©2021 The Syracuse Journal. Powered by Pluto Sites.