Monday, October 8, 2012

When newspapers are just out of reach

A souvenir dish preserves an image of the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on March 12, 1959, the birthday of the State of Hawaii. 
I love newspapers the way other addicts love different pursuits in sensuality. I am aroused by front page headlines in 144 point type, especially when they shout in red ink, the kind I used to write.
Traveling friends have long brought me gifts from faraway places, crinkly copies of the Jerusalem Post or the Moscow Times, Le Monde or The Scotsman or maybe the Times of India, PM, or Washington Star. At age 12 I had my own subscription to the Manchester Guardian Weekly, printed on lightweight paper for transport from Britain.
A year or so ago I decided to go cold turkey. After all, I had managed to stop smoking a couple of decades before that, so I cancelled home delivery of four daily newspapers. The papers were reachable online, something unimagined when I was an 18-year-old police reporter. The switch from home delivery to computer screen was like changing from gourmet meals to a feeding tube, doable if not recommendable.
Spring arrived this year with temptations. The New York Times offered weekend delivery, Friday through Sunday, at a special rate. The Chicago Tribune had an even better weekend offer, four days including Sunday, all at a low, low cost. There were other offers, like the aroma of whiskey in the nostrils of a 12-stepper taking  step number 1, from the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Southtown. These were offers nobody with black ink in the veins could refuse. I signed up for all four.
It was a summer of slow breakfasts and the accumulation of facts useful for a Jeopardy watcher, a summer of newsprint stacks on flat surfaces all over my home. My companion, OPCA/MSA, has let me gather the newspapers early in the morning by opening my garage door, gently steering my rollator while using a gripper mounted on a cane, like a hockey stick with a claw at the end, to pick up each paper and plunk it into the rollator basket.
This is no longer working very well and it won’t work at all when Chicagoland’s season becomes more Chicagolike, with snow, ice and maybe a White Christmas. Once more I’m cancelling all the newspaper deliveries, and thanking God for computers, and for the gift of evolution that carried us all from quills to Windows.

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