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The Opinionated Octogenarian 1B, Newsies

July 21, 2014

The Broadway show, Newsies, reminded this opinionated octogenarian of the young boys who stood on street corners, waving folded papers and calling, “Read all about it.” Newshies shouted shortened versions of the headlines to sell papers for a nickle or dime. Newsies deposited the coins in a holster tied around their waists and made change by cupping their hands and pressing their thumbs on the coin-sorting device. I never bought a newspaper from the youthful vendors. My family had our papers delivered to the door.

Money in my family was scarce, but we subscribed to two newspapers. The Trentonian was delivered in the morning and the Trenton Times came late in the afternoon. The Times had all the news that was fit to print, and the Trentonian held the scandals (fit to print or not). In a normal household, a wife read he Trentonian with a second cup of coffee after she sent the children to school. She could think about life’s diversions while she did the housework. A husband read the Times (perhaps with a mood enhancer) while waiting for dinner, wrapping himself in the problems of the world or the sports page.

Mine was not a normal household. Mother went to work, riveting at General Motors. Nanny wrapped garbage with the Times,and lined the bird cage with the Trentonian, for it was the smaller paper. When the bird passed away, the Trentonian was stopped. The scandals were being noticed by two teen-age girls. The girls preferred the comics in the Times anyway.

Now my husband and I take three newspapers, all the same size, but we don’t wrap our garbage and we don’t have a bird. We recycle papers in their own huge green container put out on the curb on Mondays for the company that manages waste. All that news, all those stories end in a dumpster. How sad! How appropriate?

Some friends think getting three papers is overkill and ostentatious behavior. Who has time to read three papers? Not they. Not I. John and I pick and choose the sections we want. John takes the sports sections. He used to say that was where man’s accomplishments are found. He does not say that anymore, for murders, drug use, and chicanery often make headlines in the sports sections. Although I don’t find comics funny, I like the satire in political cartoons. Wit, wisdom, and a sense of humor have not abandoned the human race.

After glancing at headlines, I go for the editorial and opinion pages, and that explains why we need three newspapers. The LA Times prints the Democratic Party point of view, the OC Register gives the Republican Party side, and the Wall Street Journal has intelligent writers and readers. I need facts as well as opinions. When the press is free and the reporters are unbiased and truthful, the culture and values of society are revealed in the newspapers. Hooray for the news.

I became interested in this when, 60 years ago, I enrolled in sociology and criminology classes at the Rutgers University campus in Newark, New Jersey. Getting off the train from Trenton as the sun was setting and walking the mile or so to the campus required all the courage a twenty year old girl could muster. Only sixty miles from Trenton, Newark was a territory I never knew existed, run-down and dirty, filled with crime and chaos. Lectures by detectives and prison-guards combined with real life events filled me with fear.

Life is not the same for everyone. Oliver Twist and Macbeth had not prepared me for the rough and tough world in which I live. Every day bad things happen, and the evil men do hangs around to complicate life, while the good vanishes quickly. Why?

Today, July 21, 2014, three papers were thrown from a moving car before 6 am. I glanced at the headlines to discover what is happening beyond my peaceful driveway in Orange County. A rabbit devours the grass, but three papers provide the news. The rabbit stares at me but does not move.
LA Times – “Plane Crash Focus Shifts to Fate of Bodies.” (298 bodies were brought down by Russian missiles in eastern Ukraine.)
OC Register – “Death on Both Sides in Gaza”
WSJ – “Israel, Hamas Clash in Deadly Day”
Our world is not a safe place. Without newspapers, like the rabbit, I might not know.

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