News for an Empire

Something over forty newspapers took a feature, “Literary Leaves,” written and syndicated by Edward Bok, later editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal. The Spokesman ran Bok’s chitchat about Mark Twain, Laura Jean Libbey, Whitticr, and other notables.

Another syndicated feature appearing in The Spokesman on Sundays was a review of fashions originating in New York. It was illustrated with line cuts showing the latest styles in jackets, toques, veils, and other feminine apparel. This was in a day when illustrations were a great rarity in Western newspapers. Also, on Sundays, “Clara Belle” contributed a spicy two columns of gossip and comment which titillated the women of the frontier by reporting the doings of their sisters in far-off New York, as in this extract :

A young lady wearing the latest thing in waist coats tooled a pair of glistening bay horses down Fifth Avenue, turning into one of the cross streets and drawing up in front of a well-known gymnasium. Her groom sprang to the horses’ heads and she, with the grace and speed of a bird, leaped to the ground and hastened inside the building. Two minutes afterward she stood nude in a dressing room downstairs. Slipping a light blouse over her head, a loose pair of trousers on her limbs, and pushing her feet into a pair of canvas slippers she ran upstairs to the gymnasium. There for an hour she exercised on the parallel bars, the arm and leg weights, swung clubs and took a half-mile dash around the running track. She then pulled a heavy shirt known as a “sweater” over her shoulders and hurried down stairs again. Next she wrapped a soft pink robe about her and tiptoed across a hallway into a marble lined bathroom. Throwing aside her robe she placed herself under the shower bath and pulled the cord, puffing and slapping herself as the icy spray deluged her. Then with a little cry of excitement she ran across the floor and flew headforemost into the placid and cool plunge bath. Here she disported like a naiad for five minutes or more and then pattered back to her dressing room, getting into her street clothes with interesting rapidity and, with a careless brush to her wet hair, flying out to the street where her cart awaited her.

Cost of syndicated features was just one of the expenses The Spokesman’s owners had to meet. Their working capital was soon exhausted and they had to have more money to keep going. It was only natural that they should look to some of their former associates in Chicago for financial aid. Among these prospective investors it is likely that the name of W. H. Cowlcs was up toward the top of the list. There is no question that W. H. Cowles knew about The Spokesman from the very beginning. In the bound files of The Spokesman are copies he received, addressed to him first at the Tribune office and later at the family home, 1805 Michigan Avenue. His father, Alfred Cowles, had died the previous December 20, 1889. The Tribune’s police reporter was enabled to secure funds from his share of his father’s estate, to buy stock in the Spokane Falls daily. It was not a large amount and he held onto his job with the Tribune. Either at this time or later H. H. Kohlsaat told him: “You show good judgment investing in a newspaper in a small town as thereby you’ll lose less than you would if you invested in a Chicago newspaper.” Another Chicagoan, Lee Agnew, also invested in The Spokesman, came West to keep its books and solicit advertising.

As these new stockholders came in, Horace Brown bowed out. J. Howard Watson took Brown’s job as business manager and Charles B. Dillingham stepped into Watson’s position of city editor.