Last issue of The Winslow Mail

After 113 years, Winslow's newspaper and one of Arizona's oldest, is closed.

The issue of The Winslow Mail that is out now, will be the last. The Winslow Mail, one of the oldest newspapers in Arizona, as of now, will no longer report news, write features, promote events, cover sports and run legals - the things that defined it as one of the necessary institutions of Winslow since 1894.

The Winslow Mail officially began in February 1894 and perhaps got its name from the fact those postal deliveries or "mail" since many newspapers came through and were dropped off by the railroad in those days. The Winslow Mail was started by J.F. Wallace, who moved to Winslow with his former newspaper in 1887 from St. Johns, a small, isolated farming community at the base of the White Mountains. The first newspaper office in Winslow was parallel to the railroad tracks along Front Street, now known as First Street.

Around the time of the formation of The Winslow Mail in 1894, western Apache County was soon subdivided in 1895 and created into Navajo County, whereby The Winslow Mail was the official county newspaper.

In those early days, this was a four-page newspaper that had to have each letter set by hand. News of those days lacked photographs and contained everything from who went on vacation and where, to the ongoing activities of the town fathers who worked ambitiously and intelligently to bring success to Winslow that peaked in the late 1930s and '40s.

Editors and/or owners never lasted for more than a few years at The Winslow Mail until the Giragi Brothers - Carmel and Columbus - bought it in 1925.

Carmel began his newspaper career early, in Tombstone, where he was born on Sept. 12, 1894. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Giragi, immigrants from Italy. When he was 17-years-old, he began work as a printers devil in the office and shop of the Tombstone Epitaph and Daily Prospector where he learned to set type by hand.

About a year after he first went to work in the print shop, his younger brother, Columbus, joined him. On Aug. 1, 1913, the two brothers organized the firm of Giragi Brothers and purchased the Tombstone newspapers. Carmel was 19 and his brother 16.

The Giragi Brothers moved The Winslow Mail offices from Front Street to Second at the Howell Hotel, now the Chief Apartments.

Carmel's editorial policy was positive and aggressive, and it left no doubt where he and Columbus stood on matters concerning their community, county and state. On occasion, after they successfully defeated an attempt to move the county seat of Cochise County from Tombstone to Douglas, a delegation of citizens from outside Tombstone, approached the Giragis and offered them $5,000 in cash if they would "back away" from their battle over the county seat. The Giragis asked the delegation to leave before they themselves were run out of town.

The Daily Prospector was unprofitable and closed. In December of 1925, the Giragi Brothers sold the Epitaph and at the same time they closed a deal with Sam W. Proctor of The Winslow Mail.

In less than a year, The Winslow Mail was changed to a daily newspaper, and served the northern Arizona communities which had depended on Albuquerque and Los Angeles for its daily newspapers, and the day-late papers from Phoenix.

Indicative of Carmel's wide-ranging interests, which he pursued in his editorial columns, were state politics as well as protecting Arizona from out-of-state people who "wanted special privileges." He took a strong editorial stand against the appointment of W.S. Norviel, a Phoenix legal friend of Governor John C. Phillips, to be Superior Court judge at Flagstaff, when several able and eligible attorneys in Flagstaff were available for the appointment. And he took a strong stand against the granting of special game hunting privileges to Zane Grey, well-known novelist, who wanted special treatment by the Game and Fish Department for himself and his friends when they visited his cabin near Payson.

Carmel was a good friend of George W. Hunt, Arizona's seven-time governor, and he accepted appointment to the Arizona State Fair commission. He also was a good friend of Wilson T. Wright of Globe, with whom he served on the Fair Commission. Wright was elected in 1932, with help from the Giragi newspapers, to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Carmel was very active in the Democratic Party and attended the national convention in 1932 when Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for the first time. He was a good friend of Lewis W. Douglas, Arizona's congressman who became director of the Federal Bureau of the Budget under the New Deal and eventually was ambassador to the Court of St. James, London. Unfortunately, Carmel's successes were tragically cut short.

On April 17, 1933, Carmel left Winslow in a light monoplane piloted by Jack Irish, en route to Phoenix to attempt to arrange for a job for a friend in state government. Carmel felt he would have more success in obtaining employment for the friend if he appeared personally in his behalf.

When they did not arrive in Phoenix by early afternoon, a search was begun for them, but the winds were so high that it was difficult for planes to keep to the air. The governor ordered detachments of the Arizona National Guard to dispatch to the field from Flagstaff, Prescott and Phoenix. Sheriffs in four counties - Navajo, Coconino, Gila and Yavapai - took to the field with posses to aid in the search.

Winslow Police Chief R. L. Neill, drove south from Winslow on Sunday morning, April 23, 1933, in company with Charles Osborn, a state highway patrolman, to follow as nearly as they could determine, the course of the plane toward Phoenix. Just before entering Sunset Pass, 18 miles south of Winslow, they turned off on the Fuller Road. There they found charred wreckage of the monoplane, with the bodies of Giragi and Irish inside, burned beyond recognition. Carmel was 38.

When Carmel was nominated for a place in the Arizona Newspapers Hall of Fame in 1956, a former news editor who worked for him at The Winslow Mail and who proposed his name for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, wrote: "While in Winslow he was closely associated with every undertaking he thought would be of benefit for his city, county or state. He led in the fight for better schools; in the campaign for more paved streets; in battles for efficient city and county government; in the movements to bring additional industries to the community; and in the program of highway improvement."

During his entire career he had the moral stamina to uphold the right as he saw it, in spite of threats and ulterior influences of others.

The remaining brother eventually sold The Winslow Mail to Northern Arizona Printers and Publishers in 1945, where the newspaper was moved in 1948 to its present location. Vada Carlson alternated as editor here from about '48 until 1964. Carlson was married to Joe Rodriguez, who then drew many images of Spanish exploration, pioneers and the cowboys of Winslow's history. He formed a local artist organization and published handmade books of his art with Winslow's existing press of the day. Carlson also wrote much about Winslow history in books like A Town is Born and Snapshots, also printed in Winslow.

The Winslow Mail was purchased by Mabel and James Nagel of Four Corners Development in 1967, and then sold it two years later to Bruce Wright and Robert Cribbs, who owned a few papers in California as well.

Under Wright and Cribbs, The Winslow Mail got rid of the linotype or "line of type" press that was invented in 1886. The old linotype press is rumored to have been buried in the concrete of current Winslow Mail office around that time.

The old-timer linotype pressmen, Sam Branch and Frances Roberts, took this time to explore new career opportunities, while Manuel Vargas Sr. retired. He had been working at The Winslow Mail since '37 and was taught the old techniques by Joe Lopez. Branch became police magistrate and Roberts went to teach English and journalism at Winslow High School. Linotyper Danny Sanchez stayed on at The Winslow Mail and learned how to make the aluminum plates that were sent to the Flagstaff press. David Montanyo ran the offset press in Winslow for about a year until the offset web press was sold.

In 1969 after purchase by Paul Barger of Navajo County Publishers, The Winslow Mail began printing at The Daily Sun in Flagstaff. Wright and Cribbs left to go work in public relations. The Barger's then owned and operated The Holbrook Tribune, and still do today, along with the Taylor-Snowflake Herald.

In 1984, the Bargers brought The Winslow Mail to being twice a week. By 1988, the newspaper entered the computer age and the staff worked off Apple Macintosh computers. The Bargers eventually reduced their operations back to Holbrook. Western Newspapers, Inc. bought The Winslow Mail in June of 1998. Western also bought the name of The Reminder that was printed by Earl Benham on multi-colored regular size paper with Risographs.

Since 1998, few reporters remained in Winslow more than a year. Many have come and gone. In February 2006, the last associate editor and reporter for The Winslow Mail, John Bianchini, came to Winslow. Brett Weaver became publisher in February 2007.

The Reminder will remain while The Winslow Mail will officially close today. We appreciate your business throughout the years. Thank you for allowing us into your homes weekly as we bid our readers and advertisers farewell.

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