On Monday morning, Sept. 9, 1974, Durangoans mulled over, discussed, and debated Sunday's pardon of disgraced former president Richard Nixon by then-President Gerald Ford.
The Ford "honeymoon" was over, muttered the legion of Nixon haters.
That pardon was the topic of the day. Some Durangoans opposed, some favored, and a few thought it might revive the whole Watergate mess. Most just wanted to get the sad episode behind and move on.
Nixon dropped in and out of the news the rest of the week. The severely depressed former president planned to resign as a California lawyer. Meanwhile, the Herald asked, "Americans now, and future generations of Americans have a right to know the extent to which their government and leaders are capable of the abuse of power."
Water proved a front-page topic. A five-year plan to study the Dolores River under wild and scenic legislation, was just starting at an estimated cost of $19 million. Another article promised that the longtime favorite, the Animas-La Plata project, would "stimulate the local economy."
School lunches loomed on the front page also. Inflation was threatening to force schools to turn "to the housewife's standby: leftovers." Every Durango housewife knew where that problem lay, in the rising cost of groceries. City Market's Sept. 11 ad listed potatoes at 10 pounds for 69 cents, ground beef at 77 cents per pound, four containers of yogurt for $1, and a 2-pound can of coffee for $2.09.
Much to the disgust of those opposed to more city and county growth, a study indicated it was coming. So too, there was a forecast for an upswing in the price of home heating. According to the automobile industry, the $3,000 car "is a relic of the past." "It is going the way of the Model T."
Nor were some visitors happy. Complaints to the Chamber of Commerce spurred it into looking into the out-of-state "check cashing" policy of some local stores. A concerned individual wrote Señora San Juan, "How can health care be improved and reduce costs?"
On a more positive note, the United Way fund drive was to be launched the next week, with a goal of $7,500 to be raised. The local square dancing club also reminded readers that special dances would be held in Albuquerque and Farmington.
Encouragingly too was the fact that, Fort Lewis College enrollment soared, up 9.5 percent. There were 2,673 students enrolled, a new high. For those concerned about land use, the League of Women Votes heard regional planner Lynn Vandergrift speak on "local land uses."
Perchance of more interest to many readers was the football season, now in full swing. Durango high school had lost the week before but held high hopes for Friday's upcoming game. Fort Lewis would open its season Saturday against New Mexico Highlands with the Herald boldly forecasting that this "could be the season."
Denver Bronco fans fervently hoped this would be their year. Reading the sport's page would have given them encouragement. They ended the pre-season 4-2. The "Broncos have the best team ever," in consideration of their history to that moment, was not a strong vote of hope.
Norval Pollard, the Herald's fearless forecaster, predicted wins for both the Demons and Raiders. There being no Saturday paper then, the Sunday sport's page found a mixed bag of results. Even though the Demons' offense continued to "sputter," they defeated Gallop, 14-0.
The Raiders, however, lost 20-10. Said coach Jay McNitt, "our heads weren't in the game!" To paraphrase the late Walter Cronkite, these are the things that altered and illuminated Durangoans' lives the week of Sept. 9, 1974.
Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.