I am celebrating newspapers today
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:00 PM
Today, I am celebrating newspapers. Not because it is a special day decreed by government or the industry but because newspapers tie their communities together in a unique service. We should celebrate newspapers every day. Newspapers tell us what city and county government is doing for us (or to us!), what is going on in our local schools, who died, who was married and who is splitting up.
Mom and dad subscribed to two newspapers when I was growing up: The South Bend Tribune and the Pulaski County Journal.
When I was learning to read, I would get home from school, pick up the Tribune from the door step, flop down on the living room carpet and follow the adventures of Li'l Abner, Nancy and even Mary Worth.
I became curious about the other newspaper. The one that was delivered once in a while with the mail.
Mom and Grandpa Zellers (who lived with us most winters) seemed to enjoy the paper that came in the mail much more than the big city paper from South Bend.
The little paper didn't have nearly as many comics. In fact, I don't remember seeing any.
It carried something on the front page in the left column called, "The Old Man's Daughter."
Eventually, I asked Mom about that.
"Her father used to run the paper," Mom said. "He used to have a column about things going on in Winamac. When he retired, his daughter took over."
When I was a child, Mom and I spent a week or two each summer at Grandpa's house on Riverside Drive in Winamac.
Winamac is located between Maybe and Somewhere, miles east of U.S. 31.
One day, Grandpa and I were at the courthouse square in Winamac while he visited with his friends, who gathered on the sidewalk in front of the retaining wall.
One of his friends looked down the street, turned to me and said, "Here comes the next president of the United States."
I became wide-eyed and a few of the men laughed as I got to shake hands with U.S. Rep. Charles Halleck.
Years later, I saw Rep. Halleck on TV. He was dressed in top hat and tails and was at a memorial service for the next President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, who had been killed a few days earlier in Dallas, Texas.
Last week I was delighted to find a recent copy of the Pulaski County Journal on a cabinet in the sales office.
It looked nothing like the paper Mom subscribed to. The modern edition was bright, colorful and filled with pictures. One of the pictures had to do with a Charles Halleck award being granted. It seems people in Winamac still remember Rep. Halleck though most probably never got to shake his hand.
Does any of this sound familiar?
This afternoon, I will attend our weekly staff meeting. I will look around the room and be proud of the work our team does for the community in our larger, daily newspaper.
We carry columns on the front page each day. I'm tempted to say the Tuesday column is written by "The Old Man." We carry comics and puzzles each day. We cover local politicians and local schools. In fact, we are all about our local community.
Like the modern Pulaski County Journal, The Paper of Montgomery County is bright and colorful and attractive.
Each day you have our word we will do the best we can to tie our community together.
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I wish you a happy Easter. This week, our churches are celebrating Holy Week with special services. Easter usually reminds us of new life as the earth warms, plants bud and we look forward to summer. Let's just hope that since we can't plant potatoes on Good Friday, we will be able to plant them by the Fourth of July!
Frank Phillips has been involved in the newspaper business on a daily basis since he began writing for The Messenger, a weekly paper in Montgomery County, in 1994.