Every morning I engage in a ritual on the verge of extinction. I walk outside and bring in the morning newspaper.
There was a time when every house on both sides of the street had a newspaper in the driveway. Of course, there was also a time when every house had a landline, too. But not anymore. Not in a long time.
The husband takes the demise of print edition newspapers particularly hard as he worked his entire career in newspapers. He started when he was 16. Even before that, he was what you would call an independent publisher. He received a small typesetting kit with a hand-cranked press as a child and printed a family newsletter.
Circulation never passed two dozen or so extended family members, but it kept him entertained, and cousins and aunts and uncles were well informed about the boys his older sister was dating.
We were at a Chicago park recently, herding a few of our grands, as kids swarmed like bees. The husband had a newspaper he had been reading folded under his arm. He sat down and put the paper on the bench beside him. A girl about 9 walked over, looked at the newspaper, picked it up and asked, “What’s this?”
I nearly screamed, “Get back little girl! Run as fast as your legs can carry you.”
I thought the man was going to croak. The color drained out of his face. His eyes rolled back in his head and his legs were giving out.
I rolled up his paper and rapped him on the head with it.
He was still swooning, so I waved it under his nose.
The fumes from the ink brought him to.
Some people simply love paper: the feel, the portability, the pleasure of old newspapers stacked in piles, the pleasure of stacking them higher and higher until your wife cries, “Enough!”
He was recently making another case for print, citing Exhibit A, our youngest daughter and son-in-law. When they lived with us, they raced to pull the crossword puzzle from the paper every day. The man has a point. It’s hard to do a crossword online. Pencil doesn’t come off a computer screen as easily as you might think.
Now the husband will be thrilled that I have found further proof there may still be hope for the survival of print. I was visiting with a young, married, mother of four little ones who subscribes to the daily newspaper in print.
Stunned, I asked why she did something so old-school. She looked shocked.
“Because it’s print,” she said. “I love print. When the paper didn’t come one day, would you believe I called the main number to let them know and the lady said, ‘Why don’t you just subscribe to the online version?’ ”
She shook her head in disbelief.
The husband will be so thrilled he may write this young woman into our will. I say we make her beneficiary of all our stacks of old newspapers.
Borgman is a columnist for Tribune News Service and she may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.