Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Almighty Newspaper and Me

I love to read.

While growing up, I read whatever I could get my hands on: books, magazines, tabloids, newspapers.

Newspapers. I loves newspapers. Didn't matter if it was serious news (think NY Times when it was good) or trashy tabloids (think National Enquirer et al), if it was newsprint, I read it.

History. I loves history. With history, I was a little more discriminating. I didn't care much for world history as my speed was more American history than anything else.

Now you may be wondering as to how all of this actually pertains to this blog, considering for the most part this blog has covered my adventures in writing, the Internet and to a lesser degree, work. In all honesty, this is actually about work. I have noted elsewhere that I do payroll for the state of CT, and I have been for the past 4 1/2 years. I have also noted elsewhere that I was laid off from the state back in 2003. What I haven't noted (or elaborated on), was what I actually did prior to being laid off in 2003.

I worked with newspapers.


From 1996-2002, I worked in the Preservation Department. Within that particular department was a program called the CT Newspaper Project which dealt with the cataloging, preservation and microfilming of old CT newspapers. For more details as to what other states participated in this program and what the program is all about, please go to either the Library of Congress or the United States Newspaper Project, which was/is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

I won't go into the details about either the microfilming side of it or what I did for job duties, because quite frankly, I like all of the regular and casual readers of this blog and the last thing I want to do is to turn everybody's brain into mush.

Instead, I want to touch on some of the newspapers I dealt with in those 6 plus years of working at the library. I dealt with all kinds of newspapers: M-F dailies, weeklies, bi-weeklies, tri-weeklies, bi-monthlies, monthlies, dailies that published three days a week. English, Spanish, Italian, German. 18th, 19th and 20th century.

Most importantly, I dealt with newspapers that unlike today, actually were an important and essential part of the community they served.

So without further ado, I will give some titles and a brief background to each.

Deep River New Era: This was one of the first newspapers that was microfilmed. A wonderful weekly that started in 1873 and ended in the 1980's. It gave an excellent snapshot of a typical small town in CT.
The Connecticut Shore: A fascinating summer weekly that published in the 1940's for the seasonal residents of the northern shoreline community (Stonington, Groton, Lyme, Old Lyme) of CT .
The Connecticut Western: Another fascinating weekly that held the same time frame as first one mentioned. Gave an excellent snapshot of the Northwestern corner of our state.
The Meriden Recorder: A newspaper put out by one of the more flakier people of CT. The man had a well deserved persecution complex that was unparalleled in the 19th century. His newspaper was always being shut down due to first amendment issues with the local government.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the more well know and completely skewered individuals of the 19th/early 20th century newspaper community, John Rodemeyer. His writings and unique outlook on life were legendary. Journalist/Editor/Publisher, his stuff was anything but ordinary. At one point, he published a short lived weekly called, "The Yellow Spasm", which interestingly enough was published on bright yellow paper. I compare his output with the output of George Carlin.

All of these newspapers I mentioned covered local, state and national news with a consistency that has yet to be developed again.

I want to share with you one last item, that myself and my co-workers always found incredibly funny. Most dailies that were published up until the mid 20th century were M-F papers. Very few published Monday-Saturday, and even rarer were the Sunday editions. In any event, we were doing up a M-F daily circa 1920's, and we found a story about Rudolph Valentino being serious ill with an appendicitis. The Friday edition we did gave an update saying that "his condition was vastly improving and the doctors were saying that he was on his way to a full recovery. The very next Monday edition was full of stories about the planning of his funeral and were the funeral procession was going to take place.
I loves newspapers....


  1. No probs.

    Got a whole lot more to share about my early years with the state.

    I figure I would give everyone just a hint of what's really going on in that little head of mine.

  2. Cool post. Something different, I like that.

    My mom tells me I used to be a happy kid, with a great outlook on life... until I started reading the newspaper. lol.


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