My questions for today are “Where do these articles come from? How do these words get from my home to yours? Where does it all begin?
For my part, it begins the first day after the previous article appears in the newspaper. Using last week’s article as an example — how did that story about baseball find itself printed on a page of last Wednesday’s Delaware Gazette?
To put it in words, it begins in my brain when I ask myself: “What can I write about next?” I try never to write about something I have already written about, so it usually takes a long time to come up with something new. (I already have over 200 articles stacked on my shelves here at home.) I have articles about the horse farm, deaths of my family and friends, our new gardening experience, etc. (I have to stop and enter here, that we just this hour got the news that our friend JR died last night. I had written about him this past Aug. 23.)
Since articles are supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, I think I will call the previous two paragraphs my beginning for this article. Now comes the “middle.” Just this week, I found an article from the Marysville Journal-Tribune that I would like to quote here. It was originally written by a 72-year-old grandfather to his grandson. They are anonymous, but it is about a grandson asking his grandfather, “What was your favorite fast food growing up?” And the grandfather answered, “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up.” Then, when asked where did the grandfather grow up? The Grandfather said, “It was a place called home. My mom cooked every day, and we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate, I was allowed to sit there until I did like it. Then I had to ask to be excused from the table.”
Then he added that his parents never wore jeans, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country, or had a credit card. There was no TV until he was 7 years old. It was, of course, black and white. And there were only two stations, and they went off the air at 10 p.m. after playing the national anthem. The test pattern came on then.
Pizza was not delivered to his house, but milk was. So was bread and donuts from the Omar man.
There were no movie ratings because all movies were produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or almost anything offensive.
The grandfather also knew about headlight dim switches on the floor of the car, using hand signals in the car for turn indicators, and party lines on the telephone. He remembered coffee shops with jukeboxes, metal ice trays with levers, and washers with hand crank wringers to get the water out of the clothes. He had been born before polio shots, frozen foods, contact lenses, pantyhose, air conditioners and dishwashers. The grandfather concluded, “In my day, grass was mowed with a push mower, coke was a cold drink, pot was something your mother cooked in, and chip meant a piece of wood.”
As soon as I have filled my computer screen, I know it is time to start thinking of my closing thoughts.
And today, my closing thoughts are that I have NO idea what happens after I hit the “SEND” key that I have finished what I wanted to say, and I have sent it on to the editor of the Gazette. I can’t begin to know what happens after the editor has it on his desk. All I can guess is that he would read the article to see if it has mistakes that have to be corrected. Also to see if it has a beginning, a middle, and an ending that makes sense. Would you believe that the endings are as important as the beginning?
The next time I see my article is when the mail is delivered in the mailbox. We don’t have “paper boys” any longer. Years ago we had a very nice delivery paper boy. His name was Harold. He told us once that if he was short one paper for him to deliver, he always shorted us and gave it to the last person. He said that he knew that if George didn’t get a paper that day, he wouldn’t be mad at him. We miss having Harold around.
One last thought about my articles. They include my picture and I think I should tell you that the picture of me was taken over 10 years ago, when I was much younger. It was a part of a snap shot. I cut off the other person and sent my picture to the Gazette. At that time, it was the only picture I had with my hair being the same color as it is now.
I will stop here because I have a beginning, a middle, and this is the end.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.