2024-06-18 8:16 AM

Our Man in Arlington


The steadiest hometown newspaper in Arlington would be the Sun-Gazette, nee the Northern Virginia Sun.

Its inaugural issue on Dec. 12, 1935, which I viewed on microfilm, was a far cry from today’s expressly local and conservative-leaning chain-owned Sun-Gazette.

The original was a high-brow, region-wide compilation that included global UPI dispatches and a commitment to racial progress.

“The Sun has come into Arlington and Fairfax counties at the invitation of a substantial number of citizens,” wrote publisher Paul W. Ferris and editor Thomas A. Daffron Jr. on the first front page. The impartial Sun “has no connection — political, financial or otherwise — to any outside interest.”

It was welcomed by Falls Church Mayor L.P. Daniel, Gov. C. Perry, and Arlington Chamber of Commerce President F.S. Loos.

The eight-page weekly broadsheet that cost a nickel was produced by four staffers in the Masonic Building in East Falls Church. The newsroom then moved to a succession of offices around Clarendon, I’m informed by the Center for Local History: 2611 Wilson Blvd., 1224 N. Hartford St., 3440 Wilson Blvd. and finally 1227 N. Ivy St. Sample early story: “Work will be sped on Lee Blvd.,” a reference to today’s Arlington Blvd.

By the Jan. 7, 1949, issue, the Sun was 10 pages under editor and Publisher Howard B. Bloom Jr. It reported a church-state advocacy group complaining about Bible classes on Arlington school grounds. Later stories described work on the “Jennie Dean Park for Negroes” and the Lions Club raising $250 for Arlington Hospital.

The Jan. 21 issue reported the “formal opening of the Westover library,” and an editorial criticized Fairfax school superintendent W.T. Woodson’s for forcing black students on long bus rides to schools in Manassas.

By 1956, editor and publisher CC Carlin Jr. in the renamed Daily Sun was recycling editorials from other cities. He included comics and Jane McCorkle’s high school “chatter.”

Big changes came in the late 1950s. The Sun was taken over by a sophisticated Washington braintrust fresh from Democratic presidential campaigns. They got money from the Sears Roebuck and Hahn Shoes fortunes to back Georgetown journalist Clayton Fritchey and top diplomat George Ball, says Wikipedia. Investors would lose a half a million smackers cultivating suburban Washington commuters.

It was heavy on policy. They ran a column on developments in Laos by Sen. Barry Goldwater and cartoons about Latin American “poverty and serfdom.” One Aug. 3, 1962, story showcased a “fed up” citizens group who wanted Arlington bypassed by the coming I-66.

“The New Dealers” were so-tagged by subsequent Sun editor and publisher Herman Obermayer, who bought it from them and for 25 years ran it as a conservative. In 1990, it was subsumed by the Sun-Gazette chain and in 2006 taken over by American Community Newspapers. Today the Sun’s successor is owned by Rappahannock Media.

“I enjoy the weekly column from the first editor, which ran from the start of the paper to about 1951,” said current Sun-Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, my friendly competitor who has written on Sun history. “It really was the `blog’ of its day – filled with interesting and a sometimes irreverent take on facts and foibles of the growing community. It’s my hope that someday the columns could be edited into book form, because they are a tremendous asset for someone who would want to chronicle the community’s evolution.”


Much of Arlington’s charitable and political establishment gathered Jan. 6 at Rock Spring Congregational Church for the memorial service for Bill Bozman.

Bozman died Nov. 30 at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads at 93, having charted a fine federal career during and after the Great Society era. He then began a “life of service” in Arlington, heading the United Way and shepherding low-income housing projects.

He was the famously supportive husband of the late county board stalwart Ellen Bozman. Once during the 1960s, as former state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple recalled in her tribute, Ellen Bozman was on her way out the door to “desegregate Arlington’s theaters.” Her husband asked slyly, “Do you have your bail money?”


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