Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

December 6, 2008

Newspaper hawkers delivered word on ‘Day of Infamy’

BLUEFIELD — The surprise attack by Japanese aircraft on the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands on Dec. 7, 1941, remains as one of the pivotal moments in American history. The people who lived through that “day of infamy,” as President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it, can remember it as vividly as they recall any day of their lives.

“It was quite a day ... Quite an occasion,” John Cary Shott recalled. “At that time, everyone just jumped in and went to work. Now that I look back on it, I just expected it to happen ... for people to come together and work like that. The attacks on 9/11 were close to the kind of reaction, but in a short time, you had people pop up who were opposed to our reaction. After Pearl Harbor, no one opposed it, or if they opposed it, they kept their mouth shut.”

Shott’s grandfather, Hugh Ike Shott was the founding editor/publisher of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and his father, Jim Shott, had business interests in the city as well as interests in the family radio stations and led the charge in the 1950s to establish a television station in Bluefield — WHIS-TV, now WVVA-TV.

As word of the attack started spreading through town, crowds of people came into the Telegraph newsroom on Bland Street in search of any word of the attack. John Cary Shott and his friends, Jack Sarver, Buzzy Johnson and Buckshot Yost, the newspaper “hawker” who traditionally worked the intersection of Bland and Federal streets, arrived at the newspaper office that Sunday afternoon to find out what was going on.

The Telegraph was a morning newspaper, and had gone to press at about 1 a.m., Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941. The Shott family also published an afternoon paper at the time, the Sunset News, that printed on Monday through Saturday. With part of the staff already arriving for work on Sunday afternoon, the publishing company decided to use the Sunset News to carry the banner headline: “U.S. at War — Japs Attack,” for the same day “Extra” edition of the newspaper.

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