Might be that back then most of the enlargers were condensor types, which made for nice crisp grain images, and on top of that many photojournalists pushed thier Tri-X a good bit on a regular basis because of the unpredictable lighting and the need for a higher shutter speed to catch the action. Theres been many a football or basketball game I've shot on Tri-X at EI 1600 to 3200 developing in anything from Acufine to HC-110. All in available light as the flash was hardly able to overpower the ambient lighting. Grain was so big the pictures hardly needed a halftone screen to print on the press.
I hope there are still some photographers who like to use film with visible grain structure when it benefits the subject. So far I have not seen any examples in the galleries. Maybe it is just that the scanners are depriving us of the real qualities of the actual prints. I believe that most people are trying to avoid the presence of grain in their work. Does anyone have an opinion?