The Record-Democrat
The cover of the Sept. 16 issue of the Record-Democrat, out of Beckham County, Okla. (Josh McBee)

One of my favorite pastimes is perusing the pages of local newspapers, big and small.

Maybe it’s the journalist in me, but something always tickles my fancy. I’ll never forget how a family friend used to pass along old copies of the Barnsdall Times when I was in high school.

The best story I ever saw come out of Osage County spent 1,000 words discussing a fire in Barnsdall. According to my memory of the report, a volunteer fireman “had to haul his 50-pound unit across the street” to extinguish the blaze.

The Barnsdall Times, I learned while writing this, is now called The Bigheart Times. The weekly paper’s website boasts the best tagline I’ve seen in ages: “The only newspaper in the world that really gives a diddly.”

This weekend, I found myself in far western Oklahoma for a wedding, where I learned how to make what I’m calling a “Beckham County spritzer.” Sorry, but I do not think I have publication rights to the recipe.

Afterward, my good friend set three alarms on his phone for us Sunday morning: “Siri, buy a local newspaper.”

Thus, I spent $0.75 and bought the Sept. 16 edition of The Record-Democrat, which appears to be a combination of the old Sayre Record and the Beckham County Democrat.

I’m not sure how much of a “diddly” the downtown Sayre newsroom gives in comparison to the Bigheart Times, but I do know that Brad and Dayva Spitzer’s publication was worth the three quarters.

School bonds, meth and football

The Sept. 16 edition of the Record-Democrat boasted 12 pages, two grocery inserts (Puckett’s “Best Meat Guaranteed” Food Stores and Homeland) and an additional insert for Tractor Supply.

Pretty standard fare, but I will say that at $6.99 each, the price of mums is going through the roof.

Above the fold, editor Dayva Spitzer placed three stories this past week. First, two Sayre school-bond proposals passed to secure $3.24 million in building bonds and $265,000 in transportation bonds for four new bus routes. A total of 343 people voted.

Second, a 25-year-old woman from Sayre was arrested for methamphetamine possession in Elk City. Her bra and shorts were allegedly filled to the brim with drugs and paraphernalia, and it was her third arrest for meth, the paper reported. Sad.

Third, 14 seniors lead the Sayre Eagles football team, and the paper posted a picture of the school’s “Homecoming Court” in preview of the team’s game against Mangum.

Senior Derek Parker had a banner week in the Record-Democrat, as his picture appeared on pages one, three, four, five and six of the paper. Buy up all the extras, Momma Parker!

Unfortunately for town morale, Mangum prevailed Friday 48-16.

To me, the most interesting content in the paper was a photo of 28 motorcyclists from Switzerland who stopped in Sayre on Labor Day while riding from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“Leading the group for his second time was Kalus Frohls who says (Mader Reisen Travel) agency will have two trips next year,” the photo’s cutline read. “Mader Reisen has been making the trip across the states for many years and always stops in for a visit at the Record-Democrat.”

Fascinating. We just published a commentary about traveling from an American living in Switzerland. Small world, indeed.

Offline prescription

The Record-Democrat contained other illuminating tidbits of Beckham County life: a rodeo recap, an advertisement for the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus on Sept. 27 and an advertorial from a local pharmacist discussing a newly approved drug for moderate-to-severe “submental fat,” aka chin flab.

Interestingly, the long paragraph about the drug is comprised of word-for-word sentences from this U.S. Food and Drug Administration press release.

As of Sunday, none of these stories or ads could be found on the paper’s website, though an “online subscription” is supposedly available for $32 a year.

For $28 annually, however, you can get a print subscription if you live in Beckham and surrounding counties. Anywhere else in the state and country requires $35 per year for a print subscription, owing to postage costs.

Not a bad deal. I reckon I’d take the paper if I lived in that neck of the woods, especially at about one-twelfth the cost of annual access to the new Tulsa Frontier.

But that’s another topic for another time.