Above: At a 1992 campaign rally, John Fletcher directs the Oklahoma Christian University band as the crowd welcomes President George H.W. Bush. (Photo provided by John Fletcher)
By Bobby Ross Jr. | firstname.lastname@example.org
During the 1992 race for the White House, I was a young reporter — all of 24 years old — for the Edmond Evening Sun.
In the caveman era before email, the Internet and social media, the Sun was a five-day-a-week newspaper that served the growing suburb of Edmond, Okla., north of Oklahoma City.
That paper started as a tiny weekly in Oklahoma Territory in 1889. By the time I worked there more than a century later, daily circulation topped 10,000.
I covered two main beats for the Sun: public safety and higher education. My daily routine consisted of thumbing through the last 24 hours of reports at the police and fire stations and checking in with officials at the University of Central Oklahoma. UCO is a regional commuter university that — during my year and a half with the Sun — hired popular former two-term Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh as its president.
The headlines in the Sun — robberies, house fires, regents meetings — were “hyperlocal” long before I ever heard anyone use that term.
But a few months into my tenure with the Edmond paper, I got a tip with national significance: The president of the United States was planning a campaign stop in our coverage area — at my alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University.
At that youthful stage of my career, such news represented a major scoop — a chance to beat our main competition, The Oklahoman, then a statewide newspaper with a special, zoned section focused on Edmond and north Oklahoma City.
I rushed to confirm the tip, and when I did, the Sun splashed it across the top of the front page.
That next week, I produced in-depth coverage of Oklahoma Christian preparing to welcome President George H.W. Bush (there was no need for the “H.W.” at that point).
Four years earlier, when President Ronald Reagan still occupied the Oval Office, I had written about the then-vice president’s son, George W. Bush, for the campus newspaper The Talon.
The younger Bush had made a 1988 campaign stop at Oklahoma Christian’s Enterprise Square USA. Unfortunately, I wrongly referred to him in print as “George Bush, Jr.” Later in my career, I covered several Bush events for The Associated Press, but I did not repeat the mistake of calling him “Junior.”
The older President Bush’s rally at Oklahoma Christian — 25 years ago on March 6, 1992 — occurred on a Friday morning.
That was perfect timing for the Sun.
I cranked out my story in time to meet our noonish deadline, and the news landed on thousands of driveways that afternoon. The miracle of the printing press …
In case you can’t read the text in the yellowed clipping I saved, this was the opening of my story:
By Bobby Ross Jr., SUN Staff Writer
Campaign ’92 came to Edmond in style today as a flag-waving crowd of about 5,000 welcomed President Bush to Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts.
A packed Thelma Gaylord Forum exploded with cheers and chants of “Four More Years!” shortly after 9 a.m. today as the president emerged from a second-floor chapel.
“Thanks to all of you who got up at all hours this morning to come to Edmond from Elk City to Enid and towns all over Oklahoma, and a special welcome to all the students here from Oklahoma Christian,” Bush said.
The president shook hands with Edmond Mayor Randel Shadid and other special guests assembled on stage before stepping to the podium at 9:20 a.m. Twenty-one minutes later, he was off the stage and on his way to Louisiana for another campaign stop.
Smiling, the president told Oklahoma Christian students he had only one question:
“Is it too late to audition for ‘Spring Sing?’ ” he asked, referring to the 500-student musical variety show that kicked off a three-night run Thursday night on campus.
Against a backdrop of 53 U.S. flags and a giant blue banner declaring “Oklahoma Christian Welcomes President Bush,” the president was the height of a patriotic atmosphere of the campaign rally.
As you may have heard, Bush failed to win re-election that November. While he carried Edmond handily, he lost nationally to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, an old friend of Nigh.