I went to our archives today to look something up but got sidetracked.

I was flipping through a notebook labeled: “Clark County: Commissioners 1958 & older.” I didn’t have to look at too many clippings before I realized, with horror, that Clark County commissioners used to be called, in headlines and on second reference in stories, “county dads.”

“County Dads Poise Shears Over Budget,” reads the headline from the Sept. 9, 1949 (evening) edition of The Columbian.

“County Dads Defend Change of Districts” (June 27, 1950)

“County Dads Hear Nursing Home Charges” (July 14, 1950)

The nursing home problem was dropped into the laps of the county commissioners again this morning when a complaint was filed with the board by a Portland woman that her mother was handled roughly in a local home for the aged.

Here’s another one


From my search, the term was phased out during the 1960s. County residents elected the first female commissioner, or county mom if you will, in 1976. Connie Kearney served one four-year term.

I showed the clippings to a few people in the newsroom, who laughed. My editor, Craig Brown, joked that maybe I should try to make the term acceptable again, make it retro cool, especially since people actually read newspapers during the 1950s.

Hmmm. It would help me meet Twitter’s 140-character limit, since “dads” is even shorter than “commishes.” And at least one resident already considers herself a child of the county.

I asked our copy desk chief, Micah Rice, who has final say on all deviations from the Associated Press Stylebook. He wouldn’t let the fact that we are married get in the way of upholding modern-day newspaper style rules.

He did laugh, though.

“What would Betty Sue say?” he asked.

“She’s not in office anymore,” I said.

“You can use it in a blog post,” he said. “But in print? No way.”

Fair enough. I have one dad. I don’t need three more.

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