Ford Vs. Carter, 1976

720 1976-10-20 Missourian Ford-Carter AdThe hall closet was a catchall for seldom-worn coats, bottles of booze given Dad by vendors at Christmas (some have unbroken seals dating back to 1965) and general domestic detritus. On the top shelf was a stack of yellowing newspapers. Almost every time I came home, Mother would say, “Why don’t you go through those papers and either take them with you or throw them out.”

Every time, I’d answer, “Next time.”

A treasure trove of history

“Next time” finally came the other day. I discovered they were newspapers that had headlines of most of the major stories between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s. Space launches, Martin Luther King assassination and the riots in its aftermath, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. Some were from The Southeast Missourian and The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, but there were also covers from papers all over the country.

It dawned on me that in the days before the Internet, newspapers would subscribe to a couple dozen publications, most of which never got read. I must have gone through the stacks and grabbed those significant headlines. Or, maybe I snatched them up from Metro News on Broadway.

I liked Carter, but voted for Ford

Let me go on record as saying that I believe that Jimmy Carter was an honorable man who got dealt a bad deck of cards during his term. I would have voted for him except for two things:

  1. I admired the way Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, sparing the country months of turmoil, even though he had to have known that he was committing political suicide. He took one for the country.
  2. I covered Gerald Ford when he came to South Florida on an uncharacteristically cold, rainy day. He rode in an open car waving at crowds and stopping to shake hands from time to time the whole length of Palm Beach County. I leapfrogged from spot to spot to catch him at several vantage points, and thought to myself (while wet and shivering), “This guy REALLY wants this job.”

A gentle attack ad

Jimmy Carter’s announcement that he has cancer made this Oct. 20, 1976, ad particularly memorable for me.

Carter made the mistake of being honest in a Playboy interview: Christ said, “I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.” I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who’s loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.

The religious right, predictably, went nutso and condemned one of the most honorable and Christian presidents we’ve had for simply telling the truth.

I have to grudgingly respect this ad and its quiet message, though. It is factual, understated and effective.

Still, I’m sure Playboy circulation skyrocketed for that issue: I mean, you had to run right out to by a copy “to read the interview,” right?

What Would You Save?

Abandoned house - St Mary Mo c 1966Running across these photos of an abandoned house in St. Mary from around 1966 got me to thinking about something.

For a long time, I carried around  a list of stories I’d like to do. Eventually, I came to realize that stories found me, I didn’t go looking for them, so I set the list aside.

Still, the idea that stayed with me the longest was something about the early settlers who headed out west in their wagon trains. When they started out, they carried everything including the kitchen sink. As the trail got steeper and food and water supplies got low, they had to lighten the load by throwing out possessions they thought were least important. What was the last “nonessential” to go out the back, I wondered?

What would you save?

Abandoned house - St Mary Mo c 1966Before I got around to asking strangers to let me to photograph them with the three things they would save from their home if it caught fire, I decided to pose the question to friends and coworkers. Turned out most folks were very predictable: family; pets, then photographs, were what would be carried out.

When it became obvious that most of the photos would look alike, I abandoned the project.

What did they take?

Abandoned house - St Mary Mo c 1966Still, when I look through this open window, I have to wonder what did the owners take from those opened drawers, and why did the random beads, buttons and juice squeezer not make the cut? (As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.)

So, what would YOU carry out of your burning house? Are you going to be like most folks and say “Family, pets and scrapbooks?”


Making Math Difficult

June collection Southeast Missourian collection receiptWhen I started out as a substitute paper carrier making a whopping $2.50 a week, The Missourian cost 30 cents a week, making math easy when I went to collect on Saturdays.

We learned the times-three tables early in grade school, so figuring out 2 x .30 = .60, 3 x .30 = 90, and a month’s payment was $1.20 was no challenge.

Then the paper bumped up to 35 cents a week, making math much more difficult. I was not sorry to see the next increase take it to a much more easily multiplied 40 cents a week.

The receipts were issued in pads that were held in collection books like this one.

I hope this fixes it

I’ve been getting messages from folks saying that the email notification they are getting of new content has been broken. They were right. My best guess is that an automatic security update busticated something. Kid Matt deleted the email program and reinstalled it, so this is a test to see if it’s working again.

How much is it today?

I have a digital subscription to The Missourian, but I was curious how much home delivery costs today for someone living in Cape. What cost $1.40 in 1959 goes for $16.95 today.


Do You Still Get a Paper?

Southeast Missourian under car 10-14-2006While looking for a picture I had taken on one of our vacations back to Cape, I ran across this 2006 picture of a Missourian under my van. Who knows why I shot it? Maybe I wanted to gripe if it was a pattern.

That got me thinking about my changing newspaper habits. When I used to go on a road trip, Wife Lila would give me a $10 roll of quarters to drop in newspaper vending machines outside motels and eateries along the way. I gradually stopped doing that when dinky dailies wanted a buck or more for 12 pages of mostly advertising and press releases.

I realized the other day that I left West Palm Beach on March 17, and, so far as I can remember, haven’t bought a single paper along the way. Even when I was in motels that gave them away free, I didn’t bother to grab one from the lobby.

Still a news junkie

Papers for Ken's Paper Route
Papers for Ken’s Paper Route 1961

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a news junkie. When I get up in the morning, I check for email and Facebook messages, then I turn to the USA Today ap on my tablet (I’m not crazy about USA Today, but their ap is clean and easy to use). After that, I check out Google News. If I have a lot of time, I’ll visit Digg. The other day The New York Times offered me three months of digital access for $5. I’ll cancel it just before it jumps to five bucks a week.

I’ll dip into The Missourian’s website (which I pay for) and take a quick glance at The Palm Beach Post’s headlines.

Even with my employee discount, The Post subscription costs enough that Lila and I debate renewing it now that has become the Incredible Shrinking Newspaper. The other night I told her she could stop saving them up for me like she’s done on all my other trips. “I’ve already seen the world, state, and regional news and comics online, and I don’t care about who was shot or in a car wreck overnight.”

The Three Bs

Post Editor Eddie Sears used to say that newspapers would survive because of the Three Bs: Breakfast, Bathroom and Beach. I’m OK with the first two and never go to the beach, so I’m not so sure survival is in the cards.