Thursday, December 08, 2016

All about Paul Durham’s popular newspaper sports column

This is the tale of one popular McMinnville newspaper sports column with three different names written by one popular person, Paul Durham.

(A member of Linfield’s Class of 1936, Durham was born in Portland in 1913 and died in Honolulu in 2007.)

“Recreation Roundup” in the McMinnville Telephone-Register was the column’s original name. It ran in seven issues between July and September of 1952.

It appeared while Durham was City of McMinnville summer recreation program director. He promoted summer rec, but strayed into other sports news including that Linfield related.

(In 1953, the Telephone-Register/T-R merged with the News-Reporter and became the News-Register/N-R.)

The column became “Shooting the Bull,” appearing in 13 N-R issues, all in April 1953.

Finally, under its best known name, “Dodging with Durham” started April 30, 1953 in the N-R and concluded May 1, 1968.

While Paul Durham was multi-talented, he was not a juggler. But, what else explains how he was able to coach, direct athletics and teach at Linfield, be a husband and father, a singer in the First Baptist Church choir and do other things and still find time to write his newspaper sports column?

Wait, there’s more! From April 1953 through July 1964, Durham was also the News-Register sports editor. (He continued writing “Dodging” after he stepped down as sports editor.)

In the next-t0-last “Dodging” on April 24, 1968, he wrote, “We began working for the then Telephone-Register back in 1953. We were handling the (city of) McMinnville summer recreation program at the time and wrote some items for the T-R to help publicize the softball and park play programs. The paper was making plans to go daily and editor Bill Powell asked us if we’d like to be a sports editor.

“All three of the Durham offsprings were in school, money was a tad bit on the short side (even shorter than now), so we decided to give it a whirl.

“We showed up at the paper at 6 every morning, laid out the sports page, wrote headlines, and hit the Linfield campus for teaching and coaching duties by 8 or 8:30. Each evening, five days a week, we pounded out a sports column for use in the paper the next day. As we look back, it doesn’t seem too logical. But if you’ll check on some old copies of the T-R or N-R you’ll find out it really happened. And, as we view the past in retrospect, we really didn’t seem to have the feeling we were overworked.

After the N-R “swung back to twice-a-week publication, life got a litter easier. Then … (after) we gave up the sports editorship, (we) continued to whip out the column twice a week.

“We’ve enjoyed it and generally it’s been a ball. At times it got to be a bit of a chore, but not often. It gave us a contact with many wonderful people we might not of have had an opportunity to meet otherwise.”

Durham said "I always enjoyed writing, took a journalism class (at my alma mater, Franklin High School in Portland), and wanted Linfield (athletes’) names in the (newspaper). I always knew people enjoy seeing their name in print, even me, and that led to the column built on names.”

“When I started writing the column in the N-R, (publisher) Phil Bladine, a good friend of mine, named it 'Shooting the Bull.' After a bit, some readers started adding a word to it in their minds, and we decided we had to get a new name. Bladine suggested 'Dodging with Durham,' which was fine with me."

Paul Durham wrote his last “Dodging with Durham” in Honolulu. It ran in the May 1, 1968, N-R. Final words of that column: “Aloha” (goodbye) and “mahalo” (thank you).


--Durham returned to the college in 1948 as football coach (succeeding Wayne Harn) and added the athletic directorship (succeeding Henry Lever) the next year. He left Linfield in 1968 and became athletic director at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.

--For three seasons, 1949-1952, Durham and Roy Helser were Linfield men’s basketball coach-head coaches. Durham also coached Linfield golf a season or two.

--During Durham’s time working for the N-R, it published as a six days a week daily from 1953 to 1958 before returning to a twice-weekly as a weekly schedule.

--There were at least two exceptions to “Dodging” running continuously between 1953 and 1968:

=The Sept. 7, 1966, N-R sports section explained that the column “will not appear in The News-Register until the third week of this month so that Coach Durham may devote full attention to training of his Linfield Wildcat squad.”

=The column did not appear in the Aug. 3, 1966, N-R. Durham was is in Sun Valley, attending the Idaho Coaching Clinic. He mailed the column from there. But, apparently because of an airline strike, the column did not arrive at the N-R in time for publication in that issue.

=In addition to his column, Durham started and wrote the monthly ‘Linfield College Athletic Newsletter,’ sent by U.S. Mail to alums and friends. During the summer he mailed his Linfield football players a newsletter, too.


First 7/17/1952 in T-R






Seventh and last 9/4/1952 in T-R


First 4/13/1953 in N-R












Thirteenth and last 4/29/1953 in N-R


First 4/30/1953 in N-R

Last 5/1/ 1968 in N-R


On 12/9/2016, Gordon Gillmouth, McMinnville High Class of 1958/Linfield Class of 1963, provided this insight into Paul Durham as N-R sports editor/sports columnist:

“Brings back fond memories when I worked at the N-R with Paul, covering mainly local high school sports from 1955 thru 1962 (3 years while I was at Mac High and 4 years while at Linfield).

“There were times when Paul would be absent from the N-R due to his other responsibilities and I got to be the fill-in sports editor - editing copy that others wrote, writing headlines, and laying out the sports pages, in addition to the stories I wrote.  Since I was paid 10 cents per column inch printed, I loved headlines because they were in larger type and the column inches added up faster! 

“It was a challenge and very satisfying to lay out the sports pages (headlines, stories, & pictures) - to make it all fit as you had space restrictions based on advertising volume. It was like a new puzzle each time.

“When Paul was gone, he would write "Dodging with Durham" columns in advance. There may have been a time or two when I got to write the column in his absence. His columns were very popular as he was well connected and would mention many people in his writings; as he said, people like to see their names in print.

“The ‘Dodging With Durham’ column heading you show at the beginning of your post is ironic, for it mentions Tom Fuller, a 5-10 150 pound reserve football player at Mac High. Tom Fuller is my cousin.

"As Paul would say: ‘Take two and hit to right, lad.’ "


Paul Durham wrote "Dodging with Durham" in the News-Register, except when Gordon Gillmouth, who worked in N-R sports while attending McMinnville High (Class of 1958) and Linfield (Class of 1963), or John Buchner (Class of 1963), who worked at the N-R while a Linfield student, filled in. 

For Buchner -- he wrote "A Buck's Worth" which ran instead of "Dodging" -- here's an example from the Sept. 9, 1962, N-R. The note after his byline reads, “Sports Editor Paul Durham is taking his annual fall vacation, if you call herding 61 grid prospects a vacation. Because of all this, the regular “Dodging with Durham” feature, which usually occupies this space, will be missing for a couple of issues. After our tenure of office, we’ll probably be ‘dodging’ Durham.” 

For Gillmouth, here's examples from the Sept. 12, and Sept. 16, 1962, N-Rs. The note after Gordon's byline reads, "Subbing for sports editor Paul Durham who is taking a short vacation from his sports writing duties." Sept 12 leads with “The time is here again!” Sept. 16 lead is “Linfield’s Athletic Department…” 

Dodging With Durham News-Register Sports Editor Paul Durham is on vacation and his column, "Dodging with Durham" will not appear in today's issue or next Monday's. His column will reappear on Thursday, September 17. McMinnville N-R/News-Register Sept 10, 1959