North Coast Journal


A new look

by Judy Hodgson
Editor and publisher

This month we introduce our new look, one which we hope is easy to read as well as attractive. We want readers to know that the Journal has undergone this redesign for economic as well as cosmetic reasons.

As many of you know, 1995 was a difficult year for those of us in publishing. We know of three magazines from Sonoma north that are no longer in business because of the rise in the price of newsprint and other publishing costs. And in December came the tragic closure of both The (Arcata) Union and Garberville's Redwood Record newspapers in this county.

Surviving as a free-circulation monthly has been a challenge. But in these economic times, it is not possible to pass along all of the increase in costs to our advertisers who wholly support this endeavor.

We considered many options, rejecting some and delaying a decision on others. We looked at reducing the overall size of the magazine to a standard 8!/2" by 11." And we discussed converting to a paid publication.

We opted to resize the interior of the magazine with the goal of saving newsprint. Ads that were formerly a quarter page were resized to a sixth and all other ads were similarly reduced. The smallest ads have been incorporated into a new, very classy classified section called the Marketplace on page 33.

The results are twofold. By shrinking the ad sizes we are able to use less newsprint while continuing to add features and columns to the editorial space in the magazine.

A little hocus-pocus, yes. But we hope this solution will allow us to continue as a free publication. And when you encounter one of our advertisers, don't mention that their ad looks smaller. Just say, thanks.

In last month's Journal we ran a story about Carnegie heroes.

One act of heroism told how Vernon Hughes, driving an empty logging truck, managed to chase, pass and corral a runaway fully loaded dump truck, saving its driver, James Robertson, from certain death.

Hughes, at some 70 miles an hour, got in front of and eventually stopped Robertson's truck just a few yards from where paved Highway 299 in those days turned into little more than a logging road while undergoing major improvements at Green Point School, east of Berry Summit.

Robertson, 67, today is a Eureka resident whose recollection of the rescue 33 years ago remains vivid. Hughes, now 60, lives in Yreka.

The two men had never met before the harrowing event. Hughes was driving for an independent logger in Blue Lake and Robertson for Dutra Trucking. After the rescue Robertson was towed back to Blue Lake.

"I left a bottle of whiskey at Hughes' boss's office," Robertson told The Journal. "That's all I could think of to thank him."

Hughes, for his part, simply left Robertson after they got their trucks apart, and drove a few miles farther east when, "All of a sudden I got the shakes, thinking about it -- 70-miles at hour down that windy road." He stopped his truck, too nauseous to drive on.

"Why did I do what I did?" Hughes reminisced. "I saw what was going to happen to the guy, and I didn't want to be there when it happened."

"Guts and brains" is Robertson's version.

A highway patrolman reported the heroic action to the Blue Lake Advocate, and from there the Carnegie Foundation got wind of it, and Hughes - virtually unaware of what was going on -- became the only hero ever awarded a Carnegie silver medal in this area. He had managed to brake in front of Robertson's truck in such a way that -- as luck and skill would have it -- an extended trailer hitch hanging down in back rammed Robertson's radiator and lodged neatly coupled against the front end of Robertson's driveshaft.

The two strangers met once more at Happy Camp (where Hughes was then living) for the medal ceremony. They never saw one another again. But now, after The Journal story, Robertson plans to visit his rescuer in Yreka for just the third time in their lives which, for a brief moment in 1963, were joined in life and death.

And yet another Carnegie hero, J. Raven Mathewes III, now living in Manila, has told us that he, along with Russell Fritz, in 1974 rescued John O'Connell from a crashed and burning plane on the beach north of the Eel River. Mathewes and Fritz saved O'Connell, but the plane's pilot, Russell Shoelen, perished in the flames.


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