Looking back at a family man, a family newspaper

Dolores Star staffers gather around the printing press at the Exxon Building in Dolores. From left to right are Melodie St. Pete, Roberta Sturdevant, Mary Dufur, Marilyn Unrich, Tim Pleasant, Filbert 'Shorty' Lobato, Andrew Pleasant, L.W. Pleasant.

A true newsman, Larry Pleasant ran the Dolores Star from 1960 to 1977, and the Dove Creek Press between 1961 and 1968.

He died Nov. 2 at age 92.

His son Andrew spoke to the Star about growing up in a newspaper family.

"Growing up in Dolores, we all worked for the newspaper, doing every job. My first byline was when I was 6. I was telling Dad I'd heard through the grapevine the Little League team had lost in the playoffs in Grand Junction. He said, 'Don't tell us, sit down and type it,' so I typed up the story."

Andrew later worked for newspapers in Pennsylvania and New York, covering news including the Bosnian War and the Super Bowl.

The Dolores Star and Dove Creek Press were published using linotype printers in the Exxon Mercantile building. One of the original printing pieces is displayed in front today.

"We were one of the last hot type newspapers in the country. After Publishers Auxiliary did a story on us, people all across the state would call us needing help fixing their linotype machines."

Andrew's brother, Dan, worked for The Durango Herald as a linotype operator because no one else knew how they worked.

Community journalism was Larry Pleasant's forte. His amicable demeanor and drive came from his hardworking parents, who traveled across the U.S. selling portraits for a penny during the Great Depression.

At a table in the Star newsroom, locals daily discussed issues with Larry and reporters. Congressmen stopped in to chat on their way through town.

"My Dad promoted community cohesion. The newspaper business was dramatically different back then. Dinner dates made the news, a neighbor's medical problems made the news, hunting, ranching, and mining - people read that stuff and really wanted to know.

"There was no international news. When the Cuban Missile crisis hit, it was not recorded."

He's right. Archives show in October 1962, when the nation was on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, the Dolores Star ran stories on the new post office, sidewalk construction, a burning barn, and mining activities in Rico.

"We did not get rich, but we made a living. Dad had government print contracts, and did print jobs for Nielsons, a construction company. The hunting issue was huge, we would travel to Ouray and Silverton selling ads. He raised a family and sent three kids through college."

Times could get tough, but back then Dove Creek and Dolores helped each other survive, Andrew said.

"I remember distinctly: It was about midnight, my Dad showed up with a bathtub full of ground beef. The Dove Creek grocery did not have money for the advertising bill, but they had food. We were all woken up, made hamburger patties for a few hours and put them in the freezer. A lot of that went on for years and years. In smaller communities you can do that."

Back then, everyone went to the high school football games. The sheriff did part of his patrols on horseback.

McPhee Reservoir was yet to be, but was heavily promoted by the Larry Pleasant and his newspapers. The towering Del Rio Hotel, a Dolores landmark, was mostly empty 50 years ago as it is today.

"Every generation has a dream for that building, but nobody seems to be able to manifest it."

Andrew and his siblings went on to earn law and doctorate degrees from top schools. They all enjoy successful careers, but have special skills from working at a family newspaper.

"We learned to read upside down and backward because of the way the sheets came off the presses. To this day, it is a skill we all have."


L.W. Larry Pleasant, Dolores newsman, community leader