120th Anniversary Edition: The Foghorn in the 1950s

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Carl Nolte, who worked alongside former Lieutenant Governor and founder of the McCarthy center, Leo McCarthy, described his experience working as the Foghorn’s Sports Editor in the 1950s as “a kind of golden time.” 

“We were always up late, drinking beer and running down to the print place and trying to put it all together. So it was a perpetual rush,” Nolte said. “We had typewriters then, of course, and we [printed] the Foghorn in a hot type shop downtown.” 

Nolte said of his time at the Foghorn, “I learned how to write there.”

He noted that sports writing for the 1950s was particularly exciting, due in large part to the talent on the Dons Men’s Basketball team at the time. “It was groundbreaking, with [Bill] Russel, KC Jones, and Hal Perry, and all those other ball players. So working on the Foghorn was good stuff.” 

He continued, “We won the NCAA Championship in 1955… It turned out to be that team and the ‘56 team were of the best in the history of college basketball.” 

The Foghorn also covered San Francisco’s opera scene, with Gordon Getty writing music reviews and conducting exclusive interviews. “Gordon would go out to the opera and he’d meet some of the famous performers like Kirsten Flagstad,” Nolte said, “we thought ‘wow we’re the only college paper covering the San Francisco opera,’ where our other students thought the opera wasn’t so hot.” 

When asked what his future hopes for the Foghorn are, Nolte said “It should go on for another hundred years, to 220.” 

He continued, “College is like a river, the students keep changing but it has to keep going. So there are down periods and up periods, which is natural. We were lucky to come along at a good time.” 

Nolte, 90, has since been with the San Francisco Chronicle since 1961 and continues to write for his Sunday column, “Native Son.” Previously, he worked as an editor, reporter, and war correspondent. In 1986, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. 

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