Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

The good old days? Ask Joni Forsht

If she still worked at the Triplicate, Joni Forsht would probably be writing this column.

Forsht was 17 when she came to work for the Triplicate in the early 1960s (at the time she was named Joanie Miller). It was back when 2nd Street was jammed with businesses at the heart of a thriving downtown, pre-tidal wave.

Still in high school, she was originally hired as a part-time proofreader for the weekly paper. Soon after she was offered the position of Women's Page editor by James Yarbrough, the general manager and editor at that time. "He asked me if I wanted to take control of the Women's Page. I was floored. 'I would love to do that,' I said."

"For a small-town girl, it was a big thing for me."

The newspaper, located at Third and J streets, was a small operation with just a handful of staff members. The editor's wife, Jean, helped out with "writing little columns here and there,"

Forsht said. "A man named Leonard worked so hard with the linotype machine. It was so noisy and really old. It took a whole long time to put out the paper."

Check out some of the ads from the Triplicate of her times here:

andbull; Fly to San Francisco for $16.80 or Portland for $14.50.

andbull; A 10-pound bag of flour for 99 cents.

andbull; One pound of coffee for 65 cents at the Piggly Wiggly.

andbull; A brand new 1961 Rambler American Deluxe two-door sedan for $1,850 at E.K. Meadows, Inc. on Northcrest Drive.

andbull; Latex Wonder Paint for $3.29 per gallon.

Forsht reported on community gatherings, wrote human interest stories, answered phones, took pictures, collected ads and "was out and about all the time, looking for stories like a roving reporter," she said.

"Back then men frowned on women coming into their clubs," she said. "So a big part of the picture at that time were the women's clubs," she said.

Even though a lot of her assignments were repetitive, she said, "going to the women's club meetings were fun. Here I was, a 17- or 18-year-old girl and I was being accepted into their meetings."

Weddings were another staple of the Women's Page, usually described in elaborate detail, from the attire of the bridal party to the types of flowers used to who served the punch and cut the cake to the songs played right down to what the bride wore for her "going away costume."

"I worked hard on those marriage announcements," Forsht said, "always trying to come up with new words and new ways to structure the story."

Other regular features of the paper included "Heirs Apparent," or birth announcements; a column titled, "The Adventures of Stevie," written by the editor's 10-year-old son; and another column, "A Little Bird Told Me," a sort of forum for community gossip.

"How sweet and how times have changed," said Forsht, who left the small town behind for a decade in the Bay Area before returning to Del Norte and working at the Sheriff's Office as the "only female on patrol for five years" and then at Pelican Bay State Prison as a correctional officer.

Forsht now lives in Smith River, where she occasionally sends the Triplicate news about the area's Neighborhood Watch program.

What goes around comes around.

AARP's Driver Safety Program

Motorists who want to save a little on car insurance might want to check out a drivers safety class Feb. 20-21.

AARP's Driver Safety Program, an eight-hour certificate course, will be held at the Crescent City Fire Hall, 520 I St.

The class is spread out over the course of two days, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. both days with breaks.

Ken and Rose Bond, a retired couple from Bayside, come to Crescent City several times a year to teach the course, on a volunteer basis.

"We took one class and decided to become instructors," said Rose.

That was almost 20 years ago.

"We find it fun," said Rose. "Some come back three or four times. They really enjoy the class."

The class is taught in a casual manner with interesting videos, self-assessment quizzes and lots of open discussion, according to a press release.

"We put safer drivers out there on the road. That's our goal. To help them be better drivers so they can drive a little longer," Rose said. "The last bit of independence we've got are our cars."

4-H achievements on display

Interested in attending the big 4-H event coming up this month? Here are the details:

Home Ec/Presentation Day is Sunday, Feb. 24 at Pine Grove School, with home economics activities starting at 1 p.m. and presentations at 1:30.

4-Hers will be showing off their skills in cooking, arts and crafts and communication. For more information, call 464-4711.