The Scroll Then and Now
As Told by The Scroll Co-Founder, Steve Board
A school paper, including The Scroll in its current format has a good chance of generating valuable campus conversation. That was the plan when, in 1961, Bill Freeland and I launched something we called “The Scroll.” Bill was two years older than me and was determined to pursue a career in journalism. (There was employment in journalism then, not like today where it’s a well-populated unemployment line.)
Bill was a fidgety, restless kind of guy; some might say almost manic. But he got the administration of what was then Philadelphia College of Bible to authorize a periodic school newspaper complete with news, features, sports, and interviews. We dragooned a few other students into the rather tedious technology in use at the time. For typesetting we used an IBM typewriter capable of squaring up the paragraphs (“justify the text”) and then pasting the typed up material in columns before physically carrying the pages to a commercial printer. Bill made all the key decisions, such as the name of the paper and its format.
The administration of the school was also fidgety and nervous. Who knows what some kid will say? Our faculty “advisor” would intercept the worst of our content, anything with PR risk, while tutoring us on what a valuable campus conversation should include. It all kind of worked. The advisor was the literature professor, Dr. Mary Bennett, a worldly wise Shakespeare scholar previously at Columbia University and a disciple of Christ via Dr. Donald Barnhouse, then an outsized pulpiteer at Tenth Presbyterian Church.
I’m still in touch with Scroll people from that era, especially with Nancy, the woman who did most of the “typesetting” (she had a gift for the tedious). She became my wife. Bill and I walked past Nancy at the front desk on our way to Allenson’s pool room at Eighth and Market streets. “I predict she will be my wife,” I told him. If he thought that was a reckless prophecy, since I hadn’t dated her yet, he didn’t offer any word of caution. She signed up to work on The Scroll and it all worked out.
A few of the other staff are still on my Christmas card list. They’ve found their way into the traditional vocations of the school in that era—missions, the pastorate, teaching.
Bill himself went on to the Columbia School of Journalism and labored in the NYC print media. But most of his career, including recent years, was in graphic design at City University of NY. For me, the writing habits of a campus paper bore long lasting fruit. One immediate benefit was that after writing under deadlines, I never needed more than one draft of a term paper, usually typed up in haste the night before it was due. That proved useful in three subsequent schools after PCB. Years later I got into Christian magazines and book publishing, including a stretch at the monthly Eternity, another of Dr. Barnhouse’s outlets. Everything now seems connected to everything else.
Kierkegaard said we have to live life forward, but we understand it backward. I think he was right.