After my mother passed away it fell my sister’s lot to clean out our mom’s house and distribute her possessions. I was delighted that she found a few 50-year-old newspapers our mom had saved from our small Midwest hometown.
Some of the clippings were pictures of us, her children, when we won awards or participated in extra-curricular activities. There were pictures of our friends from school and the local 4-H clubs. Community leaders, relatives and friends-- all those whose presence framed our culture-- were there in black and white, preserved for future generations to enjoy.
It caused me to realize just how important the newspaper is, even in this digital age.
Although newspapers now can be read digitally, how many will take the time to print articles or pictures on a computer so they can display them on the front of the refrigerator? It’s so much easier, when we want to read and re-read those clippings—or to wave them in front of our relatives with bragging rights—just to have the paper copy.
While reading the yellowing old clips from so long ago, my children marveled at the ridiculously low prices in sale ads: two loaves of bread for twenty-three cents. Shoes for $5 a pair. It was like jumping into a time machine and journeying back to their ancestors’ day.
Going through those old papers, I saw pictures of my teen-age self, sporting dark hair and a waistline.
It was worth the effort, just to prove to my kids that I did look young once.
We read about local happenings such as the neighborhood Chummy Chatter club, where my mom was a member during her young adult years. I re-read wedding announcements.
There were pictures of people from our small community whom I had forgotten. These folks were part of the fabric of our culture back then, people who influenced our lives in countless ways.
Reading old newspaper clips that day was an eye-opener to me. Although I began writing for newspapers in high school days, I never quite realized the impact those pictures and written words may have on future generations.
All these were in a local newspaper. Where else can a person preserve personal and local history for posterity? Where else can one get a feel for what gives a community its personality?
October 6-12 is National Newspaper Week. You like bargains? Push back from Facebook and take time to read a local newspaper. Often the staff of small town papers work on shoestring budgets to bring cohesiveness to our communities and memories which your grandchildren will cherish.
What about you? Any thoughts on newspapers? Remember to comment below.