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Around Del Norte: Remembering good old days

Nate Bull outside the Triplicate offices recently.
Nate Bull outside the Triplicate offices recently. Del Norte Triplicate / Laura Wiens
It’s been almost half a century since Nate Bull went to work as news editor at the Del Norte Triplicate. He lives in Grants Pass these days, but still makes it back for a visit at least once a year. Recently, the 75-year-old stopped off at his old stomping grounds.

Back then, he said, Crescent City was “a tough town with loggers, fishermen and miners. There were 20 mills when I moved here.”

Nate arrived in especially tough times, just a couple of months after the March 1964 tsunami devastated downtown Crescent City. The place was “a real mess.”

The Triplicate had lost its building, including its press, and it was being printed in Arcata with the finished papers hauled back to Del Norte. Its temporary quarters were in an old warehouse at Fifth and H streets, which had been used by the Roeder funeral home. “There were empty caskets all around my work area,” he recalled.

Talk about deadlines.

“It was real competitive having two papers on the same block,” said Nate, referring to the Triplicate and the Crescent City American. It was also a time when Crescent City had “four car dealers and barges in the harbor for the shipping of plywood out of here.”

“It was a really close-knit town, but you never became a local if you weren’t born here. It was an exciting time for a news guy, there was always something breaking here.”

Things got a little too exciting several months after his arrival, when the December 1964 floods turned the Klamath and Smith rivers into raging torrents and tore out bridges, including the Highway 101 bridge over the Klamath that was Del Norte’s only ground access to the south.

Suddenly, driving the product to Arcata for printing wasn’t an option.

Nate recalls driving to the north bank of the Klamath River one night to meet a boat carrying the printed newspapers up from Humboldt and across the river. It was so foggy that the boat operator couldn’t see where to land, and Nate had to guide him by honking his horn.

“I think the flood was worse than the tidal wave,” said Nate. “We were short of food. The only way out was by sea or air.”

Nate Bull spent 14 years as news editor at the paper, and wrote a column called “From the Bull Pen."
Nate Bull spent 14 years as news editor at the paper, and wrote a column called “From the Bull Pen."
The Triplicate started hiring pilots to fly the pages south and the printed newspapers back up north. Eventually, the Army Corps of Engineers installed a temporary pontoon bridge across the river.

“We never missed an edition,” Nate recalled with pride.

Things eventually calmed down and the Triplicate moved into the building it still occupies at Third and H streets.

Nate spent 14 years here, and penned two columns. “From the Bull Pen,” was a multi-subject column about funny things that happened in Del Norte, and “Bull’s Eye,” mostly about sports.

Let’s let him have the final word. Here are excerpts from a couple of his “From the Bull Pen” columns:

• July 16, 1964: Some poor Del Norter expressed the feelings of a lot of fellow Americans when he scratched out the “T” in the Internal Revenue sign at the courthouse last week and substituted an “F.” Makes pretty good sense that way, too. Except maybe, to the IRS boys. 

• Aug. 6, 1964: Mrs. Wally Maciel, Miss Citizen’s Dock of 1950 and the lovely lady who snipped the rededication ribbon last week, let slip this quote from her husband.  “You make a good Miss Citizen’s Dock because, my dear, you have legs like pilings.”

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Del Norte Triplicate:

312 H Street
P.O. Box 277
Crescent City, CA 95531

(707) 464-2141
webmaster@triplicate.com

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