Friends sometimes are individuals, sometimes are small groups together many years and sometimes are not people, but in numbers very large but connected through their ability to bring the masses together, they influence decision makers and open the door to many other worlds of interest. I am losing that most important friend.
Since probably the age of four or five, when I discovered this wonderful friend, he has been a constant in my life ever day of my past eighty years. I have not missed a day seeing my friend in some form or other, He has been late a few times but that was due to weather or unusual emergencies.
My friend made me think and analyze life’s blessings and life’s struggles. To celebrate progress, but to hold on to the past. He never tried to judge me but always tried to enlighten me so that I may be able to make decisions with wisdom and understanding.
I am sure he has been a friend to all of you just as he has been to me. Perhaps you have already surmised my friend is our daily newspaper.
No matter where you lived there was always a daily or weekly newspaper. However, the written word is disappearing as one after another newspaper office closes their doors and discontinues publishing their papers. I know some of you will say, we don’t need the newspapers, we have radio, television , hand held devices and probably more to come. That is true, but all those new inventions will never replace holding my friend at the breakfast table with my first cup of coffee, checking the front page, sports scores, obituaries and testing my brain power with the crossword puzzle of the day.
In my hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, our daily newspapers were the Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times. They both were regarded as being among the best newspapers in America and the Bingham family, the owners and editors, were most respected. The newspaper was a great influence in our home. Stories and opinions were shared at the dinner table. The morning Courier-Journal and the afternoon edition, The Louisville Times, had different staff writers and editors. Often the stories would reflect different points of views and agreeing on the most complete interpretation often caused dinner table debates.
Our three children were raised to read the paper and be prepared for those discussions. Case in point, our youngest Tara, was always more interested in the newspaper than stories about Red Riding Hood or Dick and Jane. At a gathering of PTA ladies, working on a project at our dining room table, Tara at the age of three picked up the morning paper from her high chair tray and proceeded to read a front page story – much to the amazement of the group. A few years later at age five, we attended an exhibit from NASA. Tara asked the representative a question about the chemical toilet that NASA was using in their space ships. The man looked puzzled and told her he couldn’t answer her. Tara proceeded to explain the entire structure, use and disposal of the chemical toilet. The amazed man asked her how old she was and how she learned that information. Tara answered “I’m five years old and I learned it by reading the instructions in my newspaper”.
What caused the demise of my friend? For one, too many people who thought reading was a waste of time. Some parents that do introduce the written word to their children at an early age surmise that gadgets are better than a daily paper. How foolish a decision.
Now our schools are introducing “Reading is fundamental programs” to help children learn the beauty of reading for both pleasure and understanding the world they live in. At least that gives me hope!