ANSWER MAN: How early did the buzz about TV start in La Grande?

By Dick Mason, The Observer December 16, 2013 12:09 pm

We know that television was a topic of conversation in La Grande as early as 1933. 

A column in the July 17, 1933, edition of The Observer contains quotes about television from two people stopped randomly on the street in La Grande.

“Television will be a success in time because science is getting to the point where they attain perfection. It will be an addition to the home in spite of the fact that there are some awfully funny radio stars that we will have to look at,” said Walter Williams of 
La Grande.

Anita Erickson of La Grande also offered an opinion about the future of television.

“I don’t know much about the mechanics of television but I think that it will take its place along with telephones, radios and electric lights and its use won’t be confined only to the homes,” Erickson said.

The comments by Williams and Erickson were made 21 years before La Grande began receiving television signals. People here first began seeing television in the display window of a local store in September 1954. An article in the Sept. 30, 1954, edition of The Observer told of how people were flocking to the display window during breaks in their work day.

The headline of the story read — “Time for tea? No TV.”

How many elk were in Northeast Oregon in the early 1930s?

A total of 8,700 elk were in Union, Wallowa, Baker and Umatilla counties, according to estimates then made by state wildlife officials. Following was the breakdown, according to a story in the Aug. 2, 1933, Observer: Union County 1,000 elk, Wallowa County 3,000, Baker County 700 and Umatilla County 4,000. 

These elk were among the 12,000 then estimated to be in Oregon.

The census was released about a month before the state conducted its first elk hunting season since 1907. The hunting of elk had been banned since then because of low population levels.

Northeast Oregon’s elk population had been boosted with the help of close to 40 elk, which had been transported to Wallowa County about 20 years earlier from Wyoming. These elk, brought in over a two-year period, were initially kept in an expansive fenced enclosure.

The state, in 1933, was spurred to allow elk hunting by complaints from ranchers who claimed that the big animals were destroying their crops and breaking down their fences.

Contact Dick Mason at 541-786-5386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Dick on Twitter @lgoMason.