Monday, May 7, 2012

Extra, Extra! Just Try to Read All About It.

I learned how to read with the help of my Mama and older sisters, and what really generated the want to read was the Sunday comics. There was nothing like getting the punch line in “Peanuts” all by myself. I found you could converse with the adults around you if they read the comics and liked them. My Daddy seemed to like “Beetle Bailey” and Mrs. Kane, who we called our “Raleigh Grandmother,” loved “Family Circus.”  There was a time when I got into “Prince Valiant,” but then college started and I didn’t have time for the paper.

A few years later the paper was once again in hand. This time the interest was in the want ads; we didn’t have Linked In or computer postings of jobs. The Internet was still neo-natal and we found jobs by meeting people and actually applying in person. I picked up odd jobs and one was tutoring a couple of guys who had difficulty reading English. I found that the comics did it again. Their interest was immediately sparked and they thought “B.C.” was the bee’s knees. Their English writing and reading skills took off after that, and I missed them when they no longer needed me. It was my first experience teaching anything, and it was wonderful.

I started to enjoy more of the paper--Lifestyles, and Art and Leisure were favorites, but nothing beat the Sunday paper.  It was thick with all sorts of surprises. Coupons, free offers, good news, bad news, rows and rows of jobs needed, you could hold the Sunday paper in two hands and build muscles. It took you most of Sunday and sometimes parts of Monday to finish the Sunday paper, cover to cover, and it’s sad to say, but those days look about to end.

My husband has been on a coupon kick and has been getting the Sunday paper faithfully now, if not for the news, for the coupons. I still find myself reaching for the comics first, looking forward to the surprise of a chuckle from someone getting to my funny bone. Have you seen the size of the papers now? Holy microscope, Batman! They’re flipping tiny! I tried to read the comics for 30 minutes before I gave up and got the magnifying glass. I don’t need glasses for reading, but I swore up and down something was wrong with my eyes, because I couldn’t read any of the bubbles over the characters’ heads in “Zits” or “Funky Winkerbean.” Geez! I felt awful until my daughter told me she had a hard time reading them, too.

What a shame. Here I am, a combo of the newspaper and computer age, and the newspapers are cutting down the size so small that those of us who actually appreciate the crinkling sound of the paper when you turn a page can’t enjoy it. We simply can’t see to read it! I know in order to compete in these economic times there have to be cutbacks, but what good is that when you shoot down the quality of a product? Reading the news on the Internet isn’t the same. How will we collect headlines for those special times like our parents did? My Mama had the paper from when Queen Elizabeth and President Eisenhower opened the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The front page of the Canadian paper was in full color and it was a dream. There is nothing like learning about the past by holding its headlines in your hands.

When I went overseas with my husband all my friends asked for little souvenirs. When we came home with suitcases full of newspapers, no one was disappointed. They loved reading the news overseas and commenting on similarities in culture, as well as any differences. While you can pick up a lot online, I doubt you can do all of the above. I understand the need to conserve and save trees, but I thought we had the recycling thing in hand, so I find it hard to use this as an excuse for the demise of the newspaper. It will be akin to losing a good, good friend if this comes to pass. I hope things turn around, I’d like to hear my son belly laugh one day because of the comics, but right now, the funnies don’t appear too funny anymore. 

See what I mean?

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