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The Family Archivist

Last week, when I wrote about reading newspapers, I thought that was my only column about newspapers.  But then Husband brought home two cardboard boxes stuffed with papers from his mother’s home. 

            My mother-in-law, Ann Ray who passed away recently, saved documents from and about those she loved.  She kept personal letters, all kinds of greeting cards, school programs, wedding invitations, birth announcements, and celebration of life programs. Among these are a few newspaper clippings, but it seems Ann often saved the entire paper when a picture or the name of someone she knew was printed. So, Husband and I have looked for those pictures and articles.

            We turned the pages of The Sparta Expositor and The Sparta Tennessean, both published in Ann’s hometown.  We looked through The Tennessean, the Nashville Banner, and local papers, The Citizen, the Herald-Citizen, and the Dispatch.  We searched editions of The Oracle, published by Tennessee Technological University during the years Ann’s children were students.  We saved editions of The Charger, the Putnam County Senior High School paper, to give to Husband’s brother who was the 1972-73 editor.  And we found the Christmas 1972 Cain-Sloan Co. catalogue, probably because Husband was the Rivergate store manager at that time.

            Going through these many papers, a stack almost four feet high, was a walk back in time.  I cut out my picture with the hostesses of my bridal shower given by Ann’s friends.  There are pictures and a long two-column article, including a description of the bride’s bouquet, about her niece’s wedding in 1970.  In a July 1972 issue of the Herald-Citizen, a picture of Husband’s grandparents and their children was published when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

            Husband and I relived his 1985 campaign for and election to the Cookeville City Council.  There are pictures of Son playing basketball and Daughter with her volleyball team when they were high school students in the 1990s.

             I became sidetracked by local ads and society news.  On August 15, 1967, Kroger advertised stewing hens for $0.29 a pound and watermelon for $0.69 each.  June 1971 Bob’s Shop for Men held a Semi-Annual Clearance sale offering short sleeve sport shirts for $4.50-7.50. In that same paper, McMurry-Roberson had a full-page ad featuring wedding dresses.  I read lists of admissions, dismissals, and births at Cookeville General Hospital.  A 1975 issue published a column entitled, “In and Around Cookeville” which included names of out-of-town overnight guests visiting their relatives.

            Husband and I cut out every article about and picture of someone we know, but after looking through many issues, we said, “Why did she save this?  You look through it.”  Some papers went to recycling intact.

            A paper I’ve turned through several times is the Nashville Banner, published May 14, 1946.  The one thing different about this paper is a section has been cut out – a small 1 ½ inch x 1 column clipping.  This paper might prompt a third column.  What was the missing article?  Is it saved somewhere?


Newspapers are Part of My Story

A daily newspaper is one of those things I didn’t know how much I liked until I didn’t have it. And because a daily paper has always been a part of my life, I miss it.

            On summer days when I was a kid growing up in Pickett County, The Tennessean was delivered by mail six days a week, around 9:30 a.m., and I ran to the mailbox. I handed the news section to Dad, the sports section to Mom, because she was our family’s strongest sports enthusiast, and the living section, including the comics, was mine. 

            And then we’d swap sections.  I didn’t read all the national or state news, but the time I spent lying in the floor and scanning those pages are happy home memories.  From the living section Mom often clipped recipes and Erma Bombeck’s columns, some that I still have. Because Dad worked the crossword puzzle, Mom had to be careful not cut it out on the back of a recipe.         

            Sometimes our supper time conversations were about a newspaper article or a column by Elmer Hinton and it would be read aloud.  The thick Sunday editions were bought at a restaurant in town.  It stayed around the house until mid-week to be reread, and the colored comics were stashed for birthday gift wrapping paper.

            The only time of my life when I didn’t regularly flip newspaper pages was my college years, but as soon as Husband and I owned our first house, we got The Tennessean newspaper.  We added the Herald-Citizen when we moved from Hermitage to Cookeville more than forty years ago.  When it wasn’t possible to get The Tennessean delivered, I was thankful our local paper continued Monday-Friday afternoon and Sunday morning deliveries. 

            I take comfort in routine.  Six months ago, when the Herald-Citizen changed to morning delivery, I often waited until late afternoon to read it.  And after Monday publications stopped, I looked in the blue box under our mailbox several Mondays before remembering there wasn’t a Monday paper. I finally adjusted to morning publications and deliveries four weekdays and Sundays, and now that’s changed to mail delivery three days a week.

            I could sing the newspaper blues, but I won’t. I won’t because I know if the staff members of the Herald-Citizen could make a profit publishing six days a week and employing delivery carriers, they would.  I won’t because I appreciate that we still have a local paper.  I won’t because like many others, I read some newspapers and publications online, and that habit has contributed to the demise of printed publications.

            I won’t because I know I need to be flexible and accept change. Years ago, I was a classroom teacher and complained about having to record students’ grades on a computer instead of in a red grade book, but Dad didn’t sympathize.  He said, “Keep up or be left behind.”

            So, while I miss a daily newspaper, I applaud the Herald-Citizen staff as they continue to serve and provide news in our community.