Thompson Craig celebrates 90th birthday
Newspaper career holds appeal for 75 years
The front office of the newspaper business
is the heartbeat of the operation.
Its the place where the fast, sometimes hectic, pace changes
at the ring of one of the four phone lines or with the presence
of the open door. Its often the place where the first tip
for a news story is given, where advertising is generated and
Dorothy Craig knows the business better than anyone, since shes
calmly perfected the art of front office procedures for 75 years.
You might say she has ink in her blood as her family
has owned the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican
for nearly 150 years. My granddad owned the paper, then
daddy, she noted. Her grandparents were Charles and Ida
Thompson. The Thompsons bought the Milan Commercial and
it was consolidated with The Versailles Republican in 1926.
Then she and husband Carlos Barney Craig, bought the
paper and now her daughter Jo Jean and husband Gene Demaree, continue
a four-generation ownership.
Dorothy celebrated her 90th birthday, Tuesday, April 14. She goes
to work everyday - when shes not traveling the globe - and
works at the same fast pace as the other office personnel.
I wouldnt want to be anywhere else, she noted,
saying she loves working with everyone at the newspaper office
where she learned to set type by hand on the linotype machine,
ran the addressograph machine every week, and did bookkeeping
on a posting machine. Everything has changed with the age of computers.
Dorothy still proofreads, sorts mail, handles subscriptions, and
helps with the billing process, along with waiting on customers
both by phone and in person.
As early as 15, Dorothy was active in her parents' (Harry and
Dova Thompson) business. She was away from the business a short
time while attending college at Bethel Womens College in
Hopkinsville, KY and then Tennessee Tech, Cookville, TN.
Dorothys family always lived in Versailles, making it possible
for her to walk to school. We walked or skated, she
smiled. Dorothy had a sister, Jean, who was just a year older.
She said roller skating was a big thing and with about 20 others,
they skated all over town.
More of a tomboy than her sister, who she described
as more studious, Dorothy enjoyed events with action,
such as swimming and dancing.
She remembers going to dances from the 7th grade through high
school, bopping to the sounds of Big Band music by the Seagrams
and Paul Ogle bands. She said they mostly attended dances at Osgood
and Milan, but sometimes went to Aurora. We didnt
miss many of the dances, she laughed.
As a young girl Dorothy told how she took a bus from Versailles
to Greensburg, caught another one to Indianapolis, where she took
tap dancing lessons. She loved to dance. I still do,
she admitted when Big Band music comes on her television - she
cant stay on the couch.
After nights of dancing Dorothy and a host of others would cool
off by going swimming in the quarry pond. They just turned
the car lights on the pond and we jumped in, she recalled.
Going to the shows at the Austin Theater in Versailles was another
childhood memory. Cokes were a nickel, the show was a dime,
ice cream and candy bars were a nickel, too, she noted.
It didnt matter how late she stayed out dancing, swimming,
going to the movies and being with other teens. When it was time
for church, she rolled out of bed. Oh, yes, we always went
to church, she noted.
She explained how her parents were very active in the church and
made sure their girls were there when the doors were open. Her
grandfather was close friends with James Tyson, the well known
philanthropist, who in the early days was connected with Walgreens,
where he served on the original board of directors. Tyson left
his fortune to the town he loved, Versailles. Residents today
benefit from his generosity each year when the Tyson Fund money
Matter of fact, her grandfather was the person who was instrumental
in getting Tyson to build the beautiful historic Tyson United
Methodist Church, that is still enjoyed by many today.
I remember daddy going up to the church almost everyday
to see the progress as it was being built, she said. Her
grandfather had passed away before the church was dedicated in
When Uncle Jim came to stay at my grandparents'
home, he always brought a two pound box of candy to us,
Dorothy remembered. This treat was especially sweet because it
was wrapped in a pink box, pink bow, and there was one for her
and her sister, they didnt have to share! She was also rewarded
from Tyson with a nickel for not having a scraped knee when he
came to visit. However, Dorothy didnt collect much on this
because her knees were usually scraped from her skating escapades.
As a child Dorothy was always aware of the newspaper business.
She traveled with her family on many business trips and remembers
Governor Ed Whitcomb, a personal family friend, staying with them
often at their Versailles home.
After she and husband, Barney, took over the helm of the newspapers,
they too traveled often on business trips that took them to many
state parks, other states and even countries such as Mexico and
Germany. They were married May 1, 1943.
Dorothys father was president of the Indiana Republican
Editorial Association where he had connections with dignitaries
such as President Herbert Hoover and many others. Her husband,
too, followed in her fathers footsteps and was very active
in both the Hoosier State Press Association and the Indiana Republican
Editorial Association, serving in both as president. Before becoming
involved as President and Publisher of the Osgood Journal
and The Versailles Republican, Barney was employed with
the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago in the examination department.
Many honors were bestowed on Dorothys husband, which he
never spoke about. He, along with her father, were very civic
minded people who went about changing things for the better wherever
they could. Dorothy was never in the forefront, but always in
the background working just as hard. She has sorted and processed
thousands of Girl Scout cookies, as she remembered once when their
entire garage was filled with the boxes. She served 21 years in
the Girl Scout program beyond being a Girl Scout as a child. She
also would wrap hundreds of presents each year for then Sports
Editor Tiny Hunt, who would pass them out at the Muscatatuck and
Madison State Hospitals at Christmas time.
Dorothy has a steady constitution and that coupled with her faith
in God helped her through rough times such as losing her husband
to cancer in 1978. After that she learned to drive and manage
her household, something she still takes care of to this day.
She said she never felt sorry for herself saying, I just
think that so many people have gone through the same thing.
This week she was awarded a 69-year pin for her years of being
in Tri Kappa, a sorority her father was instrumental in bringing
to the area. She has also been a member of the Tyson United Methodist
Church for 80 years.
Dorothys travels have taken her nearly around the world
and just this month she took a cruise to Honduras, Belize, Cozumel,
Mexico, and the Grand Cayman Islands with daughter Jill Bramman.
Shes been all over Europe, some places more than once; South
America twice; and South Africa. She has visited many other places
such as the Amazon, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Vietnam, Hong
Kong, China, Caribbean, the French Polynesian Islands, Singapore,
Malaysia, Saigon, Rio de Janeiro, El Salvador, Chili, Costa Rica,
Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Bora Bora, just to name a few.
Id still like to go to Thailand, Japan, Australia,
Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic, she noted. Of all
her travels, she likes the Greek Islands the best because of the
warm, tropical beaches, where she enjoys the sun and swimming.
Dorothy was in Egypt when the terrorists attacked on September
11, 2001. She said she wasnt scared, just concerned about
the situation. She didnt let that stop her from traveling.
It does take a lot longer to get through the airport now,
The unique way she looks at things could be the secret to a long
life. Dorothy always looks on the positive side and says she has
a good time wherever she goes. She truly knows how to make the
best of any situation.
When shes not working or traveling, she can be found at
one of her daughters homes in Ohio - Jo Jean and husband,
Gene Demaree who have two daughters, Dara Jo and husband, Kris
Fraggos and Brandy and husband, Brian Vianello or Jill and husband
Lee Bramman, who have two sons: Erik a sophomore at the Indiana
University School of Business and Kyle, a sophomore in high school.
Dorothy has one great grandson, Talon Vianello.
She can also be found at the home of her friends in Versailles,
or they at her home, playing Head and Foot, a card game they enjoy.
Shes always up for something new and says thats why
she enjoys traveling so much to see the different cultures in
action. She particularly enjoys seeing the children, and has a
wealth of information in wonders of the world that she has witnessed
first hand. She has stories like the lady who handed her flowers
as she disembarked a plane in Paris, probably because I
smiled at her, she noted. Shes walked millions of
miles over the years and never been afraid while traveling in
foreign countries. Well, once while she was in the Straits of
Gibraltar some little monkeys tried to snatch her purse!
Ive had a wonderful life, she concluded, saying
her family celebrated her birthday in a big way over the weekend.
Theyre all so good to me.
Dorothy received many greetings, gifts and flowers for her special
day. One special birthday greeting was from Governor Mitch Daniels
where he congratulated her 75 years of dedicated service to the
papers. You should take pride in the longevity of this business
that has remained family-run. You are certainly a Hoosier treasure!
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Dorothy T. Craig is seated in a familiar spot, at a desk
in the front office of the Ripley Publishing Co., publishers
of the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican,
newspapers her family has owned for four generations and
nearly 150 years. Dorothy is most familiar with the front
office process, but has also set some type and ran the addressograph
machine for many years.