Finding ourselves in the newspaperAug 22, 2013 By Betty Starks Case
"Sometimes I can hear those old newspapers talking."
That line came from a character in a summer theater performance by the University of Wyoming's Snowy Range Summer Theater last month.
Like that character, I hear old newspapers say, "I hold life stories within."
One week ago today, you probably noted, The Ranger, Fremont County's daily newspaper, celebrated its 60th anniversary.
I believe those 60 years, whenever and however acknowledged, should be honored by us all.
Why? Because, strangely, in telling their stories, the newspaper is telling our own.
As I read and enjoyed The Ranger's golden anniversary edition in 2004, I realized the many ways in which we, the readers, find our own lives reflected in our local newspaper.
For one thing, that 50th anniversary edition shared a long list of local citizens The Ranger had employed through that period of time. I was pleased to find our son's name listed among employees in 1959-60.
Working after school at age 15 or 16, that young man grew up to write regulation books, training manuals and other publications for the Department of Social Services in the State of Washington. He probably inherited some of the inclination to write from his great-grandfather, Lou Flint, a newspaper man himself, or maybe Son's grandmother, who hand-set the type for her father when she was 16.
Then again, The Ranger may have spilled a bit of printer's ink on him too.
In fact, most of us who've lived in our city, county or state in these past 60 years are likely to have been participants in some way in the long life of our local newspaper. Think about it.
The archives? Not only The Ranger's life history, but many of the births, school activities, sports, graduations, marriages, divorces and deaths of local residents are recorded there.
Add to that legal notices, politics and religious activities along with personal successes and failures and oh my, what "days of our lives" reside in those voluminous archives.
I enjoy the ads and photography when our newspaper celebrates --maybe because I'm part artist, responding to the creativity in it all. I reminisce about my own life connections to their products or people.
The uranium era? One of the best jobs I ever held, helping with office setup, purchasing office equipment, hiring clerical help, writing stripping contracts, reports to the Atomic Energy Commission, and various matters of finance.
"You do it," instructed Ray, the project manager, his sharp brown eyes dancing as we prepared to establish Federal Partners' new office in Riverton. Returning from the Gas Hills mines and mill that demanded much of his time, he grinned and added, "Then you can't complain to me that someone or something in the office isn't working right."
"Old Grizzly," they called him at the mines --my kind of boss, candid and honest, the kind you could disagree with and earn respect from in the process.
When you start thinking back and remembering, there's something about history that rounds out one's life in later years --like the writing classes at Central Wyoming College, the great entertainment presented in the Robert A. Peck Arts Center, balloon rallies, parades, and trips in and out of the Riverton Regional Airport, to name a few.
Ten years have flown by since The Ranger's 50th anniversary celebration. My column contribution to our newspaper begins its 28th year in November.
Pardon me if I take pride in that record. It's something I never would have imagined could come my way in these years. It has been both fun and fulfilling. I've found so many new friends in my readers. Bless you. You are deeply appreciated.
A few readers disagreed with my ideas rather rudely. Disagreement is their privilege, of course, but there are better ways to do it. Many others call, write or comment favorably when I'm out in public --like the unknown woman who reached for my hand as I walked by her seat at a public gathering.
"Please don't ever stop writing," she said in a wistful voice.
That more than compensates for any rude response from a few.
This column, two books and numerous other journalistic involvements were born of these years and some, including Ranger columns, earned state and national awards. In most cases, to my great surprise, others saw the potential and submitted my work to competition.
That makes an award doubly precious in my view.
The past 60 years suggest The Ranger's life has just begun. So this is my sincere tribute to a newspaper that reports and records our everyday lives, that entertains and educates and leads us to becoming a better community, county and state.
Shouldn't we all celebrate?