An Ode to the Printed Newspaper


When I was growing up on Ohio’s North Coast, we had daily newspapers constantly coming into the house. On certain days, there were three papers arriving on our driveway. In Cleveland, Ohio, it was The Plain Dealer, The Cleveland Press and The Sun Messenger papers that were thrown into our driveway by the neighborhood kid, “Able.” Whether “Able” was on bike or foot, he battled the typically harsh elements so that our household could be informed. The papers were first taken to our kitchen table. Dad would open up The Plain Dealer and immediately go to the obituaries. “Let’s see who died today,” Dad would announce half-jokingly over a toasted bagel and instant coffee at the breakfast table. Next, Dad would read the editorials which piqued my interest. By the time the 80s hit, I was into reading a writer out of Chicago by the name of Mike Royko who was carried by one of the Cleveland papers.
Later in the day, the papers made their way over to Mother in the family room. Those papers festooned our family room couch and TV tray where Mother devoured them. Mother read all three papers while smoking her Salem Menthol cigarettes as Dinah Shore, Merv Griffin or Phil Donahue chattered away on our family’s Zenith color television. There was I in front of my childhood toy box building Lego houses. Each time I finished a project, I called over to Mother to say, “Done!” Mother would pull the newspaper aside and say with a huge smile, “It’s a creation of creations!” The “instant homage” was followed up by her quick return to the papers.
“Able” was the “delivery boy” for one of those daily papers. I’m not sure if it was ‘The Press,’ ‘Plain Dealer’ or ‘Messenger,’ but “Able” made sure that come rain, shine, sleet or snow, those papers were going to make their way into that east side suburban house. If there was a missed delivery, Mother would not let “Able” forget. Back then, newspaper delivery folks like “Able,” had to go house to house in the evenings to collect money for the newspaper subscriptions. Almost every time I summoned Mother to deal with “Able,” she would snap, “I just paid you!” I’m not sure if it was the cold wind or Mother that made “Able” tear up after each newspaper collection encounter.
Newspapers flying in and out of my childhood home had an impact on me. I ended up in the journalism field. This week, I produced a personal column for The Plain Dealer which pays tribute to Dad who died on New Year’s Eve 2013. I’m honored that The Plain Dealer is running my essay. I hope that the folks in Cleveland will enjoy the column which brings up some fond memories.
Please head over to my guest column and stay a while. You may post comments to The Plain Dealer’s site, but remember to be civil. The Plain Dealer is an excellent news outlet that is much-needed in Northeast Ohio. Just like Atlanta and all of this nation’s communities, Cleveland needs its own independent watchdog. When I browse that paper’s website, some of the same old movers/shakers/ players are up there soaking in the spotlight. If not them, then their kids are stealing the spotlight, carrying the torch. I certainly hope that my fond memories of Dad and a few of the things he loved will bring some warm memories to those who knew him and those who did not know him.

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