There is something very special about the small press weekly newspaper.
To Find Purpose In Life
By Richard Mabey Jr.
Finding one’s purpose in life, is really not an easy task. It requires listening to the gentle stirs within the inner chambers of one’s heart. It requires taking a good, hard look in the mirror. It requires one to fully understand what is truly important of one’s own self. It requires a certain courage.
The small town weekly newspaper is generally housed in a small storefront in the little Mayberry that it covers.
At 62, I feel such a great discontent within myself. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of some of the old newspaper offices that I knew so well in my youth and in my middle age. There is something very special about the small press, small town weekly newspaper. It holds a different value than the big city daily newspaper does. When Johnny Jones earns the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the Big City Gazette might put the story and one picture of Johnny receiving his Eagle Scout in Section 3, on Page 21. However, the small town weekly will most likely put Johnny’s picture on Page 1, above the fold, with a banner headline. Then, the story will continue on to the center page of the paper, with 6 or 7 more photos and the highlights of Johnny’s accomplishments in scouting. That’s the difference.
The small town newspaper is usually very open to covering the stories that the big city daily papers often stick their noses up at.
I love small town weekly newspapers. I just love the feel of them, their steadfast values and the sense of down home goodness that pours out from each page turned. The ads in small town weekly papers are much different than the ads that appear in a big city daily paper. Mrs. MacGruder, who owns the local bakery on Main Street, will be able to afford to place a fairly nice sized ad in the local town weekly. Whereas, Mrs. MacGruder would need to take out a bank loan to buy an ad in the big city daily. And that would be just one-fourth the size of the one she puts in the town weekly. The whole value, the philosophy, the essential dynamic of a small town weekly newspaper is so very different from the big city daily paper.
The small town newspaper is often a one-person operation. There may be one or two contributing writers, but the paper is generally run single-handedly by one person.
I’ve thought about going back to my old Mayberry in New Jersey. But, sadly a lot of the quaint and charming characteristic of the town has evaporated. The condominiums now flourish where there were once farms and woods. The corporate chains have invaded the town. That sense of Andy and Barney driving down Main Street has long since vanished. I guess it’s just the price of progress.
Condominiums, big box stores, and the tearing down of old historical homes; take a toll on destroying the charm and splendor of the American small town.
I long to find that small town, perhaps in Northwest New Jersey or Eastern Pennsylvania, where I could be a part of a small town weekly newspaper. Perhaps, if I were to put my mind to it, even start one from scratch. At 62, I wonder if I’d still have the energy and patience.
Being at a crossroads at 62, is not easy. But I know that the Bocci Ball Tournament has lost its glitz and excitement for me. Rehashing what O’Reilly said the night before, has become old hat. And, standing out in 100 degree temperature for hours upon hours, as a dutiful Security Guard just doesn’t do it for me any more. Alas, the glamour of the Central Florida Gated Community is wearing thin for me.
I don’t know what destiny calls for me. I do know that I need to feel purpose, to feel that I am making a real contribution to people’s lives. I need to feel useful. Retirement communities are a lot of fun, but only for a while.
I miss driving by a baseball field and seeing kids playing baseball. I miss seeing a small town parade; complete with the marching bands. I miss seeing Mrs. MacGruder at the little Main Street Bakery. I miss talking to dear old Mr. Goodheart at the hardware store. I miss having a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot cup of tea at the little luncheonette. No, folks, these Central Florida Gated Communities ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.