A. News article
from The Capital Times, July 5, 1945, Sunday Section.
MONTICELLO, Wis.-It takes more than giant presses, tons of paper, gallons of ink and scores of editors, reporters and photographers to make a newspaper great. It takes a heart, a sense of news and a feeling for the homey touch of hometown life surging around the community.
You won't find the Monticello Drizzle listed among the big names in newspapers in the nation, state or even county, but you will find that it has captured the heart of its 350 subscribers and they are going to find it hard to be without a copy if it fails to make an appearance on its scheduled once-a-month publication date.
THE CHIEF editor, reporter, rewrite man and desk man all rolled into one is Roswell (Roz) Richards. His make-up man, composing room foreman and printer is Mrs. Richards and in the circulation department are Miss Marian Stauffer and Rosanda Rae Richards, 5.
The paper started as a "drizzle" of 10 or 12 copies in July, 1943, and on its second anniversary it has reached the proportions of a "downpour" of 350 copies. Originally Richards wrote to 10 or 12 of the local "boys in service" and used a carbon in his typewriter to save time. His first subscribers were so enthused about the letter with the news from home, that Richards got the inspiration for a small paper with news of servicemen, townspeople, interesting letters, and tidbits of news from here and there to interest those far from home.
THE SUBSCRIPTION price for the first edition was the same as the present rate-A Letter a Drizzle-and judging from the pile of letters on his desk, all his subscribers pay promptly.
Now only about 125 copies of the Drizzle go to servicemen. The rest go to former residents and graduates of the Monticello high school and townspeople who pass the paper on from one home to another and then bring it back to Richards who gives it to someone else in town to continue its journey. One copy of the paper may be read by 10 or 12 residents of the community, and there is no telling how many times a copy is read, re-read and passed on in some far off foxhole.
A capricious flight of fancy on the part of Editor Richards gave the paper its name in 1943, or as he puts it, "It was the first thing that came into my mind so I called it The Monticello Drizzle."
AT FIRST the Drizzle contained humorous anecdotes, letters from men in service, wit (from the Editor's pen) and wisecracks from one serviceman to another conveyed through the pages of the paper and given an occasional boost from Richards. At the present time, and for several months past, Richards has endeavored to bring to light the more serious side of the servicemen's news and the purpose of the paper is to make it an accurate record of the part played by Monticello servicemen and women in World War II. He has received several excellent accounts of life in prisoner of war camps, foxholes, air bases, and other places where a serviceman lives and works.
One of the best ways to demonstrate the homey touch which the Drizzle employs to get its news across is by quoting a passage or two from its pages.
In the May 28 issue the column "Rambling at Random," carried the following home-style news:
Leo Folts, PhM 1/c, who returned to the states in February after 19 enjoyable months at a marine base in Cuba, is highly pleased with his new assignment at the navy diesel school, Fairbanks, Morse & Co., Beloit. 'Never expected a deal like this.' Says Leo, "Only the doctor and myself in the medical department. I have every night and weekend off. Outside of my uniform, I feel like a civilian and what a feeling it is!"
NOT BEING exclusively for servicemen and women, the Drizzle also contains news of former Monticello men and women such as "Slim" Freitag, who has recently become affiliated with the Stinson division, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp.
Besides the "Rambling at Random" column there is the "This-'n'-That's column and "From the Pen-'n'-Pencil Fronts."
Publishing the Drizzle isn't the only job of Richards. He is also postmaster of Monticello, and the Drizzle is a "spare time" occupation.
One of the fondest dreams is to see the "best from the Drizzle" put into book form, and to this end he is saving his pennies so as to finance the venture alone if need be. After publication in the April Drizzle of a tribute to the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richards sent out a few extra copies and received congratulatory letters from Gov. Walter S. Goodland, Robert St. John, Joseph E. Davies and other prominent men. The newspaper was also the subject of an article in "The Quill," magazine of Sigma Delta Chi, National Journalism fraternity. Richards expects to have plenty of material for his book as he has printed between 120,000 and 130,000 words since the paper started.
With a subscription list of only 10 or 12, it was easy for Richards to print almost all of the letters which came back in "payment," but with the increased circulation this has become impossible and he now has the job of culling the letters and printing only those which are unusual or particularly "newsy."
PRINTER'S INK runs deep in the veins of Editor Richards. His father, S. E. Richards, owned the "Monticello Messenger" for 40 years, and Roswell Richards was editor of the paper from 1928 until his father sold it to C. M. Wittenwyler in 1936. As a student at the university, he drove from Madison to Monticello two or three times a week to help edit the "Messenger." He received his degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1928.
Besides being editor of the local paper, he was correspondent for both The Capital Times and the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison and the Milwaukee Journal.
The high school commercial classes typed the addresses on the envelopes
during the school year, but now that vacation has arrived Miss Stauffer
does the job and takes the paper to the post office for mailing. Mrs. Richards
runs the editions off on the mimeograph, and Rosanda Rae, helps as best
she can with the work of publishing a newspaper.
B. Magazine article
from The Quill, Vol XXXII - No. 5, September-October 1944, page 18
This entertaining account of how a newspaperman, turned postmaster, is using his Journalistic talents to do his bit for the war effort and help build morale in the armed forces was written by Dan Albrecht, a member of the editorial staff of the Elkhart (Ind.) Daily Truth. He and Richard's were classmates and SDX brothers at the University of Wisconsin.
When Roswell S. Richards (Wisconsin '28) and his father, S. Earle Richards, disposed of their weekly paper, the Monticello (Wis.) Messenger (at) several years ago, Roswell decided that he was probably through with active newspaper work. As he settled into his new duties as Monticello postmaster, Roswell's newshunting instincts dulled a bit and he got so he could almost hear the village fire bell ring without wanting to dash down the street and cover the story.
Then came the war. For a time, things went on about as before. More and more Monticello young men streamed off to the training camps. They included practically all the unattached lads who used to gather at the village garage and hash over the University of Wisconsin's athletic fortunes (Monticello is only 35 miles from Madison), the relative merits of the Cubs and White Sox, and other favorite topics. Richards wrote regularly to 8 or 10 of his friends who had gone into service and it was while he was pounding out a letter to one of the boys last summer that the idea occurred to him -why not publish a mimeographed paper every month or so that would keep the home town boys in touch with each other and with events in Monticello?
His first step was to assemble a page or so of gossipy notes about boys in the service and send them, in a mimeographed letter, to 15 acquaintances. Their response was enthusiastic and he then proceeded to expand his publication to its present format, six legal-size pages of single-spaced typewritten material. Richards called his brain-child the Monticello Drizzle, he says, because that happened to be the first name that came to his mind. His subscription terms are: one letter per month from each recipient of the Drizzle who is in uniform. He doesn't hold strictly to that rule, however, because 25 or 30 letters between issues give him all the material he needs.
From its modest start, the Drizzle has grown until it now has a circulation of 225, an impressive figure when one realizes that the village of Monticello at the last census had just 714 residents. Many of the Army and Navy subscribers, of course, are from the nearby rural area but they are all regarded as home-towners. In addition to the copies sent to men in uniform, about 25 or 30 go to former Monticello residents who are now in other cities and others to families of the young men now in Uncle Sam's employ.
"The Drizzle is made up almost entirely of letters written by Monticello boys all over the world." Richards explains, "In this way, by writing to me, they can exchange greetings, experiences and wisecracks. Because war furnishes so much tragedy, I strive to make the Drizzle chatty and cheering, stressing the humorous side of things. I try to conduct it as if all the boys were seated right around me in a big family circle and we were swapping yarns with each other. To promote this spirit of good fun and kidding among the service men, I interject personal comments throughout. I try to present the stuff as humorously as I can so that the boys will get some chuckles out of it, but I confess I often fall considerably short of my objective."
"No matter how often the boys write to me, nearly all of them mention in every letter how grateful they are for the Drizzle and what a swell idea they think it is. One of the nicest and simplest little tributes I have ever received was this from Vincent Gerry, a paratrooper last heard from in England: `God bless all the boys and Roz.'"
Richards' news training and his years of experience as editor of a country weekly-he helped his father to get out the sheet even while he was a student at Wisconsin-show clearly in his handling of material for the Drizzle. It's not hard to believe that readers regard the Drizzle, with its infectious chit-chat and constant recollections of happier days, as some thing just as good as, if not actually better than, a letter from home. When he started his publication, Richards expected to finance it himself. He reports now, however, that it is self-supporting through contributions from various Monticello citizens. He has also acquired a volunteer staff, consisting of two girls who address the envelopes, another who cuts the mimeograph stencils, a boy who runs them off on the mimeographing machine and a boy who folds and inserts them in the envelopes.
Obviously, the Drizzle takes up a lot of Richards' time, but
he doesn't talk about building morale or doing his bit for the war effort.
He's just trying to make sure that a lot of boys from a green little village
in the hills of southern Wisconsin get a regular consignment of that remarkable
antidote called News From Home. And it's as certain as tomorrow's sunrise
that those boys won't soon forget it.
C. The Obituary
of Mr. Roswell S. Richards, Monticello Messenger, September 26 , 1946.
Residents of the village and the surrounding community were unashamed of the tears that swelled into their eyes Saturday afternoon when they learned that Roswell S. Richards, 40 years of age, highly esteemed life-long resident of Monticello, had passed away at about 2:15 at his home after an illness of about four months duration.
Mr. Richards' untimely death, which left the village and surrounding
community plunged into the depths of despair and sincere sadness, was the
result of a rare ailment diagnosed as enlargement of the lymphatic glands,
a disease which medical authorities were unable to combat. Last May he
submitted to an operation for goitre. Then it was discovered that he was
the victim of the glandular ailment. "Roz," as he was familiarly referred
to by his many friends and acquaintances, suffered untold agony during
the last days he was with his family and friends and only his unabating
determination to continue his struggle enabled him to remain with us during
the last hours.
Roswell S. Richards was born in Monticello Dec. 2, 1905, the son of
S. Earle and Ida Zwickey Richards. He attended the Monticello high school,
where he excelled in athletic activities, and graduated with the class
of 1923. Journalism was his chosen profession after he had become interested
in newspaper work when a mere boy in his father's shop here, the home of
the Monticello Messenger, and he completed the course in journalism at
the University of Wisconsin in 1928. His interest in the affairs of The
Messenger was so intense that he made trips to Monticello each week in
his last two years at Madison to assist with the work of publishing the
paper. On Aug. 2, 1928, he was united in marriage to Yolanda Elmer, the
ceremony taking place in Monroe. That year he became associated with his
father as editor of The Messenger and continued in that capacity until
the paper was disposed of to the present owner in 1936. He had served as
postmaster in Monticello for 13 years, assuming the position in 1933.
The death of "Roz" has taken from the community an individual of indelible honesty and sterling character, a man who always adhered rigidly to the ideals and beliefs for which he worked untiringly. In serving the public he was never too busy to dispense with the heavy mail distributions and give counsel and aid to any of the hundreds of patrons who filed in and out of the postoffice each day. His broad smile and friendly greeting were inseparable characteristics which his myriad of friends in the village and community and far around always associated with him.
Possessed of a buoyant and good natured disposition, "Roz" always maintained a jovial attitude when he was the subject of a "ribbing" by his friends but always retaliated with a jest that was just a bit on a higher plane. In the many years in which he served the public, both as a newspaper editor and postmaster in Monticello, he always made every effort to please the people whom he associated with. He took great pride in his work and accomplishments and the results of his efforts reflected the conscientious manner in which he applied himself to his tasks.
The death of Mr. Richards has emphasized the high esteem with which he was regarded in his community. He was well liked by everyone and the reasons are clearly apparent. His unwavering honesty and his unfailing geniality were only a few of the admirable characteristics which won him the wholesome respect of his fellow citizens. His cheerful greetings and ready smiles will long be remembered by his wide acquaintanceship.
An energetic and progressive young man, his loss to the community will
long be felt. Many thousands of copies of his mimeographed paper, "The
Drizzle" a timely publication filled with the events of the village and
community, the welfare of our people in service and other items, interspersed
with the kind of humor and wit which he wrote so fluently, were sent to
service men and women from Monticello during World War II.
At an early age "Roz" began to spend much time around The Messenger office and it was not long before he had the printing bug. Endowed with a thorough knowledge of the operation of a newspaper, Mr. Richards began thinking in terms of an improved paper. In 1935 his entries in the Sigma Delta Chi Better Newspaper contests won many awards and national honors were also won by The Messenger that year.
Mr. Richards was a member of the Zwingli Evangelical and Reformed church, Monticello, and was affiliated with Sigma Delta Chi, honorary professional journalism fraternity.
Mr. Richards excelled in writing and his work and ethics were a credit to the profession.
Surviving are the bereaved widow; two daughters, Rosanda Rae and Ronda
Kay; his father, S. Earle Richards, Monticello, and one sister, Mrs. Charles
J. Niles, Monroe. He was preceded in death by his mother and one son at
Funeral services were held at 2 Tuesday afternoon at the Zwingli Evangelical
and Reformed church. The Rev. A. R. Achtemeier, church pastor, officiated,
and burial was in Highland cemetery. Pallbearers were: Carl Dick, Dr. Wm.
V. Baebler, C. W. Karlen, W. D. Elmer and Thomas Brusveen, Monticello,
and R. H. Schoonover, Monroe.
D. The Obituary
of Mr. Roswell S. Richards, The Monroe Evening Times, September 23, 1946
Roswell S. Richards, 40, postmaster at Monticello and promising young man of the village who early in his career was marked by outstanding success in the newspaper business as editor and publisher of the Monticello Messenger, succumbed to prolonged illness at his home Saturday afternoon. He passed away at 2:45 o'clock. Since May he had been hospitalized several times but during recent weeks he had been at home.
He was victim of an uncommon disease definitely diagnosed as progressive
enlargement of the lymphatic glands from which there was no relief. His
general health had not been impaired apparently and nature of the ailment
was not revealed except as neck surgery failed to check the spread of the
derangement to other glands.
He was a young man who was well respected and highly regarded at Monticello, where his illness and untimely death stirred deepest sympathy. His abilities and energies had been demonstrated in various activities in the interest of the home community. Appointed postmaster when he was 28 he was the youngest man ever to hold the postal post at Monticello.
His interest since he was a boy in school centered in the newspaper
founded in the Richards family 50 years ago. He operated the machine typesetter
and while away at the university taking full time journalism he edited
the Messenger during his junior and senior years. He motored home 38 miles
in the afternoon twice a week to cover the news sources, writing and setting
his stories at night, returning to his university studies in the morning.
Graduating from the Monticello high school in June, 1923, he entered the University of Wisconsin and in 1928, he became editor and publisher of the Messenger, succeeding his father, Earl S. Richards, who remained active in the business 40 years until May 8, 1936, when he disposed of the paper to C. M. Wittenwyler. The grandfather, James Richards, Monticello merchant, founded the paper in 1898.
The young Mr. Richards had been presented numerous awards in recognition
of his outstanding newspaper work during his editorship. He held membership
in Sigma Delta Chi, honorary professional journalism fraternity. Retiring
with sale of the Messenger 10 years ago he expected to re-enter newspaper
work in a larger field but his plans were altered by the war and illness.
During World War II he gave time and talent to an individual contribution to the cause at home by publishing a homey 4-page mimeographed letter devoted entirely to the soldiers interest, mailed free monthly to army, navy, and marine corp men from Monticello and vicinity, expense of which was shared by voluntary contributions. It enabled service men to keep in touch with home and each other and proved a service that was highly valued at home as well as at the front.
The son of S. Earl and Ida Zwickey Richards, he was born Dec. 2, 1905,
in Monticello. He was married soon after his graduation from U. W. to Yolanda
Elmer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Elmer, in Monroe, the ceremony taking
place Aug. 2, 1928, in Immanuel Evangelical church, this city. They had
always made their home in Monticello where they were members of Zwingli
Evangelical and Reformed church and were active in social life.
Surviving are his wife and two daughters, Rosanda Rae, and Ronda Kay; his father, S. Earl Richards, of Monticello, and one sister, Mrs. Charles J. Niles, 1315 21st Avenue, Monroe. His mother and an infant son are deceased.
Roswell S. Richards was named postmaster at Monticello in July, 1933, receiving recess appointment on the endorsement of United States Sen. F. Ryan Duffy. He succeeded Ed. S. Blum, Republican incumbent. Mr. Richards was a progressive Republican and La Follette supporter.
Rev. A. R. Achtemeier of Zwingli Evangelical and Reformed church, will officiate at church rites at 2 Tuesday at Monticello. Burial will be in Highland cemetery. The body is at Voegeli funeral home where friends may call until it is removed at noon Tuesday to Zwingli church to lie in state until time of the service.
Pallbearers will be Carl Dick, Dr. William V. Baebler, Wilbert Elmer,
Cloyance Karlen, Thomas Brusveen, Monticello; and R. H. Schoonover, Monroe.