Throughout our lives, we just naturally form all sorts of habits and often have much trouble breaking those that have become a major part of our lives, such as reading a daily newspaper each morning. Little did we realize that was a privilege and that privilege could be removed without enough notice to let us consider how we would go about breaking the habit.
Many of us looked forward to keeping up with the state and national news, reading the comics, reading special columns, and working various puzzles.
Suddenly, we found ourselves sifting at the breakfast table and staring out the window while trying to decide what to do to fill the void in our lives. Yes, we can watch television, write letters, stories, or poems, play on the internet (if we have one), or just drum our fingers on the table as we try to remain calm.
One of us was a bit miffed after sending a check for the yearly subscription, having it cashed, and waiting a month or so before receiving the whole amount refunded without comment. Well, I had a few comments, which cannot be included in this column, but I wondered why people in our area were being ignored once again.
Some of us remember and can recount stories we heard about the “prohibition years.” We heard many tales about bootleggers and how well they did as they supplied the orders from their many customers.
Suddenly, I began to understand both the prohibition and the bootleggers as time passed. One afternoon, a state newspaper appeared at the coffee table, and I carried it to my car very carefully so I could read it the next morning during breakfast.
Just holding the paper was a special experience and turning the pages was almost too exciting for an aging person to tolerate. Reading the headlines and checking out various bits of news created a feeling of well-being and relaxation. I had been ordered to return the paper in pristine condition so it could be read and enjoyed by others. Of course, I couldn’t resist writing a few notes in re some of the items, but I certainly handled it with loving care as I saw that each section was in order and that no extra creases were made.
A friend then began to bootleg more papers in for several of us to enjoy. Some of us had rather colorful suggestions as to how he could make quite a bit of money if he really wanted to become a major bootlegger.
Because he is more honest than some of the rest of us might be, he hasn’t heeded any of those suggestions but has kept the daily supply coming.
Little does he know that he has helped at least one of us regain a modicum of her sanity and has given her something to look forward to each day. Even though, I read the papers a day or two late, I still enjoy just leafing through to see what is happening elsewhere.
Were I receiving it by mail, I doubt that the papers would arrive in such a timely fashion as letters between here and there take several days to arrive.
Perhaps we could encourage others to befriend their neighbors and to bring a newspaper from towns in any direction whenever those towns are visited. We might even encourage an enterprising person to start a thriving business. If we can see a paper on occasion, we had better enjoy the privilege because we are learning that unless we are on the internet we may not have the privilege of reading newspapers much longer. As a very dear friend often points out, I was born a few centuries too late!