By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Newspapers have been an integral part of the life of New Braunfels for 156 years. The first newspaper, “Neu Braunfelser Zeitung”, began Nov. 12, 1852. Here’s how it came about:
A mass meeting of NB citizens was called to choose an editor of the “Zeitung” and Ferdinand Lindheimer was unanimously elected. Money for equipment was raised by public shares. Very soon, however, Lindheimer purchased all the shares and became the sole owner.
Lindheimer, known as the “father of Texas botany” had come to Texas from Germany in 1830, was a veteran of the Texas War of Independence, and eventually joined Prince Carl and the Adelsverein to come to New Braunfels.
During the Civil War, paper was at a premium, but the “Zeitung” continued printing, somewhat colorfully, on butcher paper, wallpaper, and even tissue paper. Lindheimer sold the paper to Anselm Eiband in 1872.
In 1892 an English newspaper, “The New Braunfels Herald”, entered the scene and in 1957 the two newspapers merged. Eventually the German was dropped altogether. Now we have the “Herald-Zeitung” in English.
In 1949 there also appeared a small, independent shopping paper called “Town and Country News” owned by Joe and Helen Baldus. As a senior at NBHS, I was asked to write a column, mostly about school news, but one assignment was different. The Baldus’ wanted me to interview 70 French servicemen that were in pilot training at Randolph AFB and picnicking in Landa Park. I drove to Landa Park and made my way to the WPA-constructed open-air dance hall overlooking the spring-fed pool. There sat the 70 Frenchmen. No one told me that they couldn’t speak English. That was all right because they had a very nice interpreter. I had all my questions written down – I was prepared. I would ask the interpreter the question and he would address the group. The interpreter would repeat my question in French and they would respond to him. He would tell me their answer in English. Perfect. I did have the distinct impression, however, that my questions were not exactly interpreted as I asked them, but it was a fun experience.
My journalistic “career” had begun full time in Hallie Martin’s English class a year earlier. My friend Phyllis Reininger (Mayr) and I took an assignment that year as the NB correspondents for the big “San Antonio Light” newspaper. We actually covered some pretty important stuff here and could get out of school if there was a trial at the Courthouse. I think I must have been smarter then.
The state editor of the “ Light” said that the paper would pay us 25 cents an inch for published work, so we really cranked out the stories! Like good investigative journalists, we followed leads, tracked down rumors, and generally made pests of ourselves.
Phyllis and I kept a scrapbook in which we cut out and pasted copies of the published stories, to be measured at the end of the month. I don’t think we ever made more than $5.00 a month. Mostly the check was the correct amount except one month we were short-changed. We owed it to the journalistic profession to rectify this situation, so we took ourselves and our scrapbook to the fourth floor of the “ Light” building. We went directly to the state editor. We explained to him, with scrapbook in hand, that he had made a terrible mistake in calculating our check by some 75 cents (3 inches). He was very understanding and then proceeded to call about 20 reporters over to his desk to explain the situation to them. They were very composed and polite and the wrong was righted. As we left the room, we heard an uproarious laughter. The bus ride cost us more than our reimbursement.
As they say, “Some experiences are priceless”, and journalism is like that.