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WALKER, Ross Gray


Posted By: Joey Stark - Jefferson Co. Volunteer
Date: 2/25/2006 at 23:08:19

"Fairfield Tribune", Jan. 26, 1922

Being some intimate and hitherto unpublished history, more or less truthful, concerning the lives and deeds of people you know.

Story appears beneath a drawing of a muscular man in a boxing ring, arms crossed, one foot on the chest of his vanquished opponent who is lying prone on the mat and labeled 'printing problem'.


"Ajax defying the lightning?" you ask. Nix on the Ajax stuff. "Earl Caddock challenging the world, perhaps?" No, 'tisn't our famous Iowa wrestling hero, either. We hasten to make you acquainted with one Ross Gray WALKER, once enjoying no little fame as a wrestler of men; in more recent years getting not quite so much fame and a whole lot harder game at his job of wrestling with printing problems.

At the outset it may be stated that the editor of "Who's Who" is putting one over on the boss if this gets into the paper without him seeing it. And, as the Irishman wrote, "if you don't receive this letter you may know that I didn't send it," so we will say if you don't see this in print you will know Ross Gray discovered it and started a rough house.

Good many years ago Ross was a puny, quiet little chap over there at Batavia, where he was born, and every kid in Batavia half his size, and over, whipped him and knocked him around at leisure. Ross stood for it because he wasn't strong enough to do otherwise. But he did a lot of thinking. When he left Batavia as a young chap he didn't have much to say but had the appearance of a fellow who settled on a certain thing and intended to go through with it. Ross went to Cedar Falls, to Sioux City, Council Bluffs, and out in Nebraska and worked at the printers trade -- linotype operator. In his spare time he took a course of home study in athletics. When he felt that he had mastered this course of study, he went back to Batavia, hunted up some of the kids of his boyhood days and asked them to wrestle with him. One of the kids, a husky one, who remembered the easy picking Ross used to be, took him on. It wasn't much of a wrestling match and the Batavia husky never was able to explain just how it happened when he came to. Rest of the Batavia grown-up kids called Ross "Mister" WALKER from then on, and Ed ALFRED, Batavia's heavy-weight barber, who used to whip Ross every few days just for lack of other adventure, wouldn't talk anything but politics to Ross and deferred most deferentially to his opinions. The doctor who told Ross he wouldn't live to be eighteen years old, went to Alaska.

Having learned something of the newspaper business and realizing what a tremendous power for good a newspaper could be in a community, Ross Gray began looking for a field of endeavor. He decided that the people in and around Brighton were greatly in need of further enlightenment, so engaged in the newspaper business there. Ross had to stay there a long time before he could let loose of the newspaper, and the longer he stayed, the harder it was to let loose. The paper had been started by a preacher and Ross someway, didn't seem to be able to follow along just quite the line of thought that the founder of the paper had laid out. Anyway, after having bought the paper for five dollars down and $2 a week at a purchase price of $1800, Ross figured that newspaper independence was a bit remote and chose the real estate business as offering lesser possibilities of spreading knowledge in the world perhaps, but offering somewhat greater possibiities in the trifling matter of supplying him with bread and meat.

Some seven years ago Ross WALKER came to the Tribune office as a linotype operator. Wasn't here but a short time before he conceived the idea that he could take hold of the Tribune and make a go of it. The, at that time, owner of the plant felt a good bit the same way, so Ross Gray got on the job.

It was here that his ability as a wrestler came in pretty handy to Ross Gray. In the ordinary wrestling game the opponent played the game fair and wrestled by rule. Ross knew how to handle such wrestlers and it was just pie for him to throw some fellow like Pete STAVES with one hand while he lighted a cigar or figured out a job of printing with the other. But in the printing business he found the problems he wrestled with didn't care anything about the rules and would tackle him while he was down, or before time had been called.

Ross had some pretty tough old matches in the Tribune office. Employees used to rush to his office sometimes when they heard sounds of a great conflict and find Ross wrestling with a printing problem. Lot of times Ross would be pretty badly winded but, sooner or later, he would be found with a half-nelson, a strangle hold or something on the problem and the latter flat on its back. When his opponent was merely a man Ross called it wrestling, but when he faced a printing problem he called it a "wrassle". As the Tribune printing business grew, so the printing problems grew also, and Ross, as manager of the Tribune company, has enough matches with them to keep him in condition.

With the thermometer hanging around zero and our coalbin nearly empty, a job looks like a job to us and we ought, in self preservation, say something nice here about the boss. We might go on and tell how he is constantly putting in a lot of time and money boosting and working for everything that is for the good of the town; how he'll work his head off when put on a committee and then come to the office and work most of the night on his own business; how he is one of the most liberal givers to every worthy enterprise there is in the city. There's a lot of things like this we might say, but we're not going to do so. For we are a bit afraid that we have already said too much and that there may be a wrestling match in the editorial rooms as a result. However, the truth is mighty and will prevail -- even about a man in his own newspaper.

[Also posted to the Jefferson, Pottawattamie, and Woodbury Counties' Biographies boards]

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s).


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