When Aunt Hazel Prayed

When Aunt Hazel Prayed

Just thinking…maybe it’s being in the midst of winter that makes my mind shift to summer and family reunions. Family reunions happened at our house every year during my childhood. Many relatives lived within a short ride from our house but I had aunts, uncles, and cousins who also came from Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

I remember those reunions as being such happy times. It was often the only time that my grandmother who lived next to us saw some of her brothers and her sister. They usually all came if they could possibly make it to this summer pilgrimage of going “back home”. Many of the men were railroad workers that had started out around the little town of Baring, Mo.

Those who came from a distance to the reunion stayed with us or other relatives who lived nearby. Nobody stayed in hotels but instead children gave up their beds to the adults and all kinds of cots and pallets were brought out for sleeping. For us children, we loved it because it was a great adventure. It was the only time I got to do exciting things like sleeping on two chairs pushed together or sometimes we asked our parents if we could sleep outside on the porch. What an adventure to get to sleep on concrete!

Family reunions were a special time when the family enjoyed being together to visit and catch up on all the news from each other. There were new babies, kids graduating, marriages, and yes, the loss of some family members whose lives here on earth had ended. The adults all talked and the children played tag and baseball.

The food at the reunions was the best of all. Tables were pushed together and leaves were added to hold mountains of food. The food all came from our gardens and farms. We were organic before we ever heard of the word. The kitchen was busy as dishes of roast beef, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and roastin’ ears (corn on the cob) was carried out and added to the long table and another small table had gallons of tea and water to drink. There were desserts too, with a variety of homemade pies and cakes.

Finally, we were called to dinner and everyone stood around the table as the men removed their hats and everyone bowed their heads. That was when the most important thing happened … that was when Aunt Hazel prayed. I loved to hear her pray. As a child I thought she talked straight to God just like He was standing in the room with us. It would suddenly get very quiet all except for Aunt Hazel’s trembling voice that sounded different as if she was laughing, crying, and praising God all at the same time. She didn’t just thank him for the food but she also thanked God for this family that we all loved, and she prayed for all of us. Even the babies seemed to listen while Aunt Hazel prayed and there was a holy hush in the room for a few moments after the “Amen”.

As an adult I often think back on those hot summer days when the reunion was at our house. It was the best of times. I know now and realize that the reason that I thought Aunt Hazel was talking straight to God was because she was doing exactly that. I’m not sure Aunt Hazel knew the rest of us were in the room at the time. After all, who can stand before Almighty God and not be moved to tears, laughter, and praise? I can still hear the sound of Aunt Hazel’s voice in my mind although she left this earth many years ago. It was the sound of love when Aunt Hazel prayed.

By Pamela Perry Blaine

December, 2021

What if?

What if ?

What if? We hear those words a lot. Oftentimes it’s in a negative statement that we think or say. Those two words come to mind when we are concerned, worried or scared. What if I can’t pay the rent? What if I lose my job? What if nobody likes me? What if I get sick? What if my lab test comes back bad?

Why do we think so negatively? We rarely think of the good what ifs. What if I come into some extra money? What if I get that dream job that I’ve always wanted? What if I stay well and healthy? Now, those are good What ifs!

I was thinking about all of this when I began reading our local Rural Missouri Magazine that I enjoy. It’s full of good what ifs and stories about ordinary people who are making a difference in their towns and communities. There are articles about everything from restaurants and farmer’s markets to craftsmen who make fine furniture or even musical instruments. As I turned pages, suddenly I saw right there on page 12 an article about Jared’s Jams, a small business right here in Knox County.

Many years ago, the streets of Edina and most small towns in our area were busy little places. When Saturday came around, it was difficult to find a place to park. It was the time people came to town to take care of business, buy groceries, and stop and visit with others who were in town. Almost anything needed could be found in our small towns from groceries to a bolt for a machine. If you wanted something special, you might have to go to a bigger town or you might just order it from a catalog and it would come in on the train. Even kits to build houses were sold through the Sears Roebuck Catalog and brought in on the train if you wanted to buy that way but most folks just bought what they needed from the local lumber yard. Those Sears houses must have been good materials because there are a few still around here and being lived in today.

Today, there aren’t as many businesses but there are still small businesses around the square in Edina. There are stores like Hardwood Xpress and Studio T. In Baring we have IDK Cafe and we have a nice city park with a small book library. Sometimes there are vendors at the park on certain weekends. I know there are other small businesses in the area but you get the idea. What if we help them? What if we support them more? What if we buy from them instead of the big stores way off somewhere else? What if we save gasoline and eat at our local small restaurants and cafes instead of driving a long way? What if we encourage others to open businesses? What if they were all open at the same time? What if there were no places left to park because people came and bought locally?


By Pamela Blaine

July 2022

They Talked With Their Hands


Pamela R. Blaine

My Daddy was a very special person who loved people
and he never knew a stranger. When I was a little girl, he took me
with him when he would go to visit his brother.
I remember how he always cared so much for my Uncle John.
He and Daddy were very close and when they were together they
“talked with their hands”. You see, my Uncle John was deaf.
I doubt that anyone else could keep up or knew
what they were saying because they had been doing this since
childhood and I’m sure they had some of
their own signs and shortcuts. I noticed their facial expressions
also as their hands flew as they talked.  I wanted so badly to be
able to talk to Uncle John too and so Daddy taught me how to
“talk with my hands”. I remember the first time I made the attempt
to sign to Uncle John. I was about 8 years old and I signed,
“Uncle John, I love you.” Big tears came in Uncle John’s eyes
and he signed to my Dad, “You taught her!”

I remember another time that Daddy and I were traveling and we
stopped in a small town for lunch. Two men were sitting in a booth
where we could see them. They were pushing paper back and forth
and writing. My Dad got up and went over and signed to the man
to ask if he was deaf. I can’t even describe to you how this
man’s face just lit up! He was so excited that someone
could talk to him.  He had come to live in this small town
with a sister and she was the only other person in town
who knew how to sign. He and my Dad
talked for a long time and I don’t know who was more blessed….
the man…or my Dad and I.

I think that being deaf caused Uncle John to be very sensitive
in other ways. His other senses seemed strengthened to make up for
the deafness. He could tell things by looking into your eyes.
Since he was deaf, if you had something to say that he didn’t want
to hear, he simply turned his face away. This was his method when
you wanted him to do something he didn’t want to do or when he
simply didn’t want to hear what you had to say because the news was
not good. When Daddy was only 58, he was hospitalized with
terminal cancer. When he died, Uncle John happened to be in
another hospital at the same time. When my aunt went to tell him
the sad news, Uncle John looked away and refused to look at her….
he already knew when he saw her face, and this time, he just didn’t
want her to see him cry.

Pamela R. Blaine
Copyright October 25, 1999

Green River

Green River

Some folks call soft drinks pop, soda, or soda pop. As a child I first called it Green River because that is the first soft drink that I ever tasted. I distinctly remember sitting on a bench in my Daddy’s Skelly station in Edina, Mo., drinking Green River pop. I was in love with Green River at first taste although I was only allowed to have it as a rare treat because it was in the category of, “too much sugar will rot your teeth out”.

That was years ago and I thought perhaps Green River pop had long disappeared along with drive-in theaters, Edsels, and ice cube trays but I discovered that they still make Green River pop although I might have to go to Chicago to get it.

Green River was invented in 1914 by Richard C. Jones who owned a confectionary shop in Davenport Ia. It was a lime based soft drink and it was a bright green color. He sold it at his soda fountain by mixing his Green River Syrup with carbonated water. In 1916, he sold his recipe to The Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company of Chicago which enabled Jones to retire from his confectionary shop. Schoenhofen was not doing very well at that time due to the Prohibition Era but they survived by cranking out lots of Green River pop instead. People really liked Green River and were drinking a lot of it. The only company that sold more soft drinks than the popular Green River was Coca-Cola. It could be because it was rumored that Coca-Cola was the only soda company that actually washed their recycled bottles before filling them again. The times were different then and regulations weren’t as strict as they are today but I do hope it was only a rumor. I can’t imagine that they really didn’t wash their recycled bottles!

In those early 1900s, the Green River bottles were not capped the way that bottled soda is today. They inserted a marble in each bottle so that it would stir up the syrup that would settle at the bottom of the bottle, then to make the bottle seal they would turn the bottle upside down so the marble would fall into the neck of the bottle. The carbonation would press against the marble and keep it there at the top and seal the bottle. To open the bottle it would sharply be jerked up and down so the marble would come loose from the neck and fall to the bottom. Some think that the popping sound caused by the marble coming out may have been how the word “pop” came into existence in referring to soft drinks. I wonder how long someone played with bottles and marbles to figure out how to make that work and how many bottles were broken just to get the marble.

I was glad to find out that Green River is still available. In 2011 WIT Beverage Company bought the Green River brand. It is still made from the same recipe with real sugar, real lime, and no caffeine or gluten. It is very popular in Chicago, especially around St. Patrick’s Day with its lime flavor and Kelly green color.

Green River is mostly sold as a nostalgia item today but people who like it have a passion for it.

I would love to go back in time and sip some nostalgia at that Skelly Station. Of course the bottle would be washed and I would brush my teeth afterward so I won’t rot my teeth out.

By Pamela Perry Blaine

©July 27, 2018

Green River Float Recipe

One large glass

Add 2 big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Pour some chilled Green River Pop over the ice cream.

Top with whipped cream.

Oh, and don’t forget to put green sprinkles on top!

Perry’s Skelly Station was located where the Piccadilly’s BP Station now sits in Edina, Mo.

Picture taken early 1950s.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I have a “Keeper Box”, maybe you have one too. I actually have more than one and every now and then I look through my keeper boxes. It’s for special things…you know…like special pictures, funny notes, childish drawings, a macaroni necklace, and plaster of paris hand prints. I looked especially at those plaster of paris hand prints because every hand print is different and they remind me that we are all, “fearfully and wonderfully made”*

I did a little research on the history of hand prints and found that hand prints were used long ago for identification purposes even though they didn’t know, at that time, how important the prints were to become. It is said that British scientist Sir Francis Galton discovered the uniqueness of fingerprints, but there were others that knew of this too. In the 1800s, William Herschel, a British magistrate in India, had native Indians make a “hand-print signature” on contracts he made with them. His intention was to prevent them from denying that they had signed the contract. I guess instead of “if the shoe fits, wear it” it was, “if the hand print matches, you signed it”. After some time, the magistrate had several contracts with hand-print signatures and that was when he began to notice the differences. Each hand print was indeed unique.

Everyone knows that for many years fingerprinting has been a way of identifying criminals and even some notorious criminals have tried to alter their fingerprints. As they say, “crime doesn’t pay” because they were usually caught anyway and some even charged with obstructing justice for trying to change their fingerprints. Besides there is now DNA testing that has aided law enforcement to a great degree. Fingerprinting is also used for many good purposes, such as identifying missing people and finding children that have been abducted.

What is really surprising about fingerprints is the way they are formed on our fingers in the first place. Fingerprints are formed in the womb before we are even born. Fingerprints are formed by the pressure of the baby’s hands touching their surroundings in the womb. Other factors are genetics, location in the womb, and the density and flow of the amniotic fluid. All of this creates what is called “friction ridges” that causes the fingerprints on the baby’s hands. Fingerprints are fully formed on a baby several months before they are born! It is also amazing that identical twins do not share the same fingerprints even though they have the same genetic code. We truly are “Fearfully and wonderfully made”.*

The next time you’re feeling unimportant or that you life doesn’t matter, look at you fingers and remember everyone has different finger prints, even identical twins. You are unique, “fearfully and wonderfully made”,* and loved by God.

*Psalm 139:14-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”


Pamela Perry Blaine

May 2021

My Piano Teacher

My Piano Teacher

There was a time when lots of children took private piano lessons. The piano was not only a musical instrument but a lovely piece of furniture that adorned many homes and it was thought that it was important for children to learn the basics of music so piano lessons were popular. At that time, pianos were acoustic, made of the best woods, and were often very ornate.

My Daddy never seemed to meet an instrument that he couldn’t play, yet he could not read a note of music. He still taught my brother and I a lot by teaching us what he knew. He wanted us to learn to read music so Mama made arrangements for piano lessons with Mrs. Krueger.

Mrs. Krueger was a widow in her 80s when I began taking piano lessons from her for 75 cents for a 45 minute lesson. She was an excellent teacher and taught only classical music. She dressed and wore her hair much like the Baldwin sisters did on the television show, The Waltons. She wore straight skirts that came midway between her knees and ankles, sensible leather dress shoes, and usually a white, long sleeved blouse with a high neck. Some people called her “Miss Susie” but I always called her Mrs. Krueger because she was so respected and special to me.

Mrs. Krueger’s brick house on Second Street in Edina was meticulously kept and had steps that led up to two doors. The one on the right went into her living room and the one on the left went to her music room. The music room had a small bookcase filled with music books and the rest of the room was filled by her majestic grand piano with busts of Bach and Mozart sitting nearby. It was the first grand piano I had ever seen and its sound was amazing.

Mrs. Krueger taught me to sit properly at the piano and to play with my fingertips, and she threatened to get out her scissors if my fingernails were too long. As Mrs. Krueger taught she would end many of her sentences with, “Don’t you see.” It was not a question but the stating of facts. “You must not slump your shoulders at the piano but sit up straight, don’t you see.”

“Some people say I am hard boiled” and she explained that meant she was firm in her beliefs and teaching. Mrs. Krueger was kind but she expected my best effort. Music was to be played as it was written and when I attempted an embellishment, she said, “Don’t try to improve on the composer”. I didn’t try that again, after all, there was Bach and Mozart sitting on the piano watching me. Mrs. Krueger often encouraged me saying, “You have a nice touch” or “I’m putting an “Excellent” sticker on this music because you played it well, don’t you see.”

Mrs. Krueger must have spent hours preparing theory books of homework for me to complete. People did not have printers or copy machines in their homes at that time so she wrote it all out by hand. Even as a child I thought about what a long time that must have taken her because I was only one of many students that she taught. I learned to draw treble and bass clefts, name notes, and much more. Mrs. Kruger taught me the different kinds of notes by drawing pies. She would draw a circle and say, “This is a whole pie, just like a whole note, it gets 4 counts. If I cut the pie in half, it’s like a half note, getting 2 counts, don’t you see.” She wrote out all the major and minor scales for me to practice every day at home and I was taught history of the great composers, even how to pronounce names properly. “Bach must end with a throat clearing sound, don’t you see.”

Mrs. Krueger was an accomplished pianist and also played the pipe organ at the Methodist Church. I would often ask her to play something for me because I loved to hear her play. I think she could probably play almost anything. She was a stickler about teaching only classical music and one day she said, “I know you hear songs on the radio like this…(and she played a rousing rendition of a 1950s piano song called Nola)…but I only teach classical music.” I sometimes asked her to play The Wedding March (by Wagner) because she played it so beautifully. She laughed when I asked her if she would play it at my wedding someday, probably because she thought she wouldn’t be around for that event but she did live to be past 90. I thought you would like to know the story of Mrs. Krueger. She was a lovely lady and I miss her, don’t you see.

By Pamela Perry Blaine

April 2021

Let’s Keep It!

Let’s Keep It

I once did volunteer work with a lovely lady whose name was Maria and we became good friends. One day she was excited to tell me that she was planning a trip because she had gotten permission to go to Cuba, and then she told me her story:

Maria was a young child when she and her parents came to the United States from Cuba and settled in Florida. She had relatives in Cuba but had never been back there. Maria’s grandmother was elderly and she wanted to see her Grandmother before she died.

Maria said there were only two times that a family member had visited from Cuba. It was difficult to get permission or money to come but her uncle came and one day he went with them to the grocery store. He looked around the large supermarket filled with so many groceries that he fought tears because the choices were overwhelming to him. He didn’t want to see anything more, and he went home depressed.

Later, a second relative came to visit and they hesitated to take her to the stores because of the effect it had on their uncle so they asked her what she would like to see while she was in the USA. Her reply was, “Everything, I want to see and experience everything!” She had determined that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and she wanted to see and do as much as she could and savor experiences, even though she knew she was going back to a place where life was difficult.

It was interesting for me to hear the two different responses from Maria’s relatives but she explained to me that the stores in Cuba did not have so many items. Instead of various kinds of breads, there might be only one kind or maybe no bread at all that day. There were only a few items and no choices. People were only allowed certain things and a predetermined amount of food. Most things were monitored, even telephones, and there was only one telephone in her village, centrally located, and people needed permission to use it.

I asked Maria about her plans to go to Cuba and what it would be like for her. She said she was taking as much luggage as allowed so she could take things to her relatives. I had to laugh when she told me her idea. Maria planned to wear lots of clothing. She would wear several skirts, blouses, socks, belts, and a man’s hat that she knew her uncle needed. Maria was determined to do all she could for her family even if she looked 20 pounds heavier. She said she felt a little selfish because she was taking some paper products for herself because where she was going they cut up rags to use for toilet paper and feminine needs and then they were washed and reused. Maria was also taking some medications. Her grandmother was only allowed two or three aspirins a month because she only received what the authorities decided she needed.

I inquired about why some people I heard about had stayed in a hotel in Cuba said it was a good experience. Maria said that when tourists or visitors were allowed in the country, they were shown the best hotels, restaurants, and beautiful places but they weren’t shown the everyday lives of the people. They didn’t know the limited choices and freedoms that many people endured. Maria said that Cuba is a beautiful place with white sand beaches, island music, and the people are wonderful. It was obvious that Maria loved her birthplace and her family’s homeland.

Maria was an inspiration to me. She didn’t take freedom for granted and Maria made me proud. She loved the place of her birth and her family but when the opportunity came, she chose freedom and she chose to become an American citizen.

America is not perfect and there are those who would like to destroy her but America has lasted for almost 245 years and people still want to come here. Why? Because, as the hymn says, “America, America, God shed His grace on Thee”* Let’s be grateful to God for His grace and the freedom He has given us.

After the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government do we have? Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Let’s keep it!

By Pamela Perry Blaine

(c) April 2021

*America The Beautiful (Public Domain)

Grandma’s Parlor and the Big Piano

Grandma’s Parlor and the Big Piano

When I was a child my Grandmother’s parlor was a magical place because it was different from all the other rooms in her house. The few nicer pieces of furniture were in that room and it was used mostly for when someone came to visit. There was an area rug on the floor, a couch, chairs, a small table with a lamp, and a secretary with shelves that contained books.

The room seemed magical to me because it was beautiful and there was a sense of peace and tranquility there. I loved to be in that room all alone and it became my own special place. What made the room even more exceptional was the big piano that stood against the wall and I was drawn to it. The first time I climbed up on that piano bench I lifted the lid that covered the keys and traced the printing with my fingers that said, Hartford Cabinet Grand, Chicago. I opened the hymnal that sat on the piano and as if I knew what I was doing, I stretched my small fingers across the keys of the big piano and played them. I pretended to be a skillful pianist like my cousin, Linda, who played at church but I was disappointed that I didn’t sound like her but I kept trying and thinking it would suddenly happen. It was about this time that my Mother’s ears had just about enough of my playing and decided I should take piano lessons.

It was many years later, when I was an adult, that I found a slip of paper in a box of Grandma’s papers after she had passed away. It was a receipt for a monthly payment of $7.00 for the piano. It seemed Grandma had saved and made a down payment and paid the rest off in monthly installments. Grandma normally would not buy anything on credit so I was surprised to find that she made payments on the piano. She must have thought it important for my mother to learn to play the piano for her to do that. Although $7.00 a month doesn’t seem like much now, in the 1920s it was probably a large investment for my Grandma Laura. A good piano would have cost about $500.00 at that time.

My mother did learn to play the big piano and years later I learned to play it too. After I married and had my own home and family the big piano came to live in my house. I continued playing at home and at church and I still do. Both of my daughters learned to play the big piano too. My son played guitar and didn’t pursue piano but he loved Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and wanted to learn it so I taught him to play it on Grandma’s big piano.

The big piano was extremely heavy, so it was quite an ordeal to move it but it moved with our family several times. However, the last time we moved, we left the big piano with one of my daughters and we have a different piano where we live now. The big piano is now in the Wilkinson home in Pennsylvania and it sits in a room much like the parlor in my Grandma’s house. These days my granddaughters are learning to play the big piano and they recently played a duet on it for their piano recital.

The big piano is still filling rooms and our lives with music. I know I still feel drawn to it whenever we visit there. How many times has Moonlight Sonata, La Vie en Rose, and Amazing Grace been played on the big piano? How many hymn books have lain across the music board? How many little fingers have played the beginning piano books with songs like Sweetly Sings the Donkey, Hot Cross Buns, Ode to Joy, and Song of the Volga Boatmen?”

I know Grandma possibly gave up items for herself to purchase the big piano but I’m thankful she did because the big piano is still drawing new generations of children. I find myself hoping that somehow Grandma knows that children are still crawling up on that old piano bench, opening that hymnal, and playing music to the glory of God!

I play the notes as they are written but it is God who makes the music.” Johann Sebastian Bach

By Pamela Perry Blaine

April 2021

That’s Corny

That’s Corny!

Some people will remember the old Hee Haw television show or maybe have seen some reruns. It was a show based on music and comedy. The humor was very “corny” but it made us all laugh about the imaginary place called “Cornfield County” especially to those of us who live among the cornfields. The word “corny” usually means something that is over used, trite, or a joke that makes you groan. Although we live in a time where everyone seems to be offended about something. We were not offended by the humor presented about rural people. Why? Because we can laugh at ourselves. Sometimes it’s fun to be “corny” but we know who we really are. Most of the people I know here in our rural community are folks who believe in loving God, family, country, being a good neighbor, and aren’t afraid of hard work. If that’s corny, then it is a good thing.

Rural Missouri, along with other rural states are called “The Bread Basket” for good reason. We live where the food is grown that feeds the whole country and some other countries too, as well as feeding livestock so how “corny” is that?

Right now it’s that exciting time of year in rural Missouri. The ice and snow are gone (we hope), the temperatures are rising, and farmers are beginning to move equipment as they begin preparing fields and planting crops.

The main crops that we see here in Northeast Missouri are corn, soybeans, and hay. According to an agriculture report that I saw, Missouri is the second leading state in the number of farms and in hay production. Although Iowa is number one in our nation for growing the most corn, we aren’t far behind. Missouri grew 463.4 million bushels of corn in 2020 so we are pretty corny in that respect.

Corn is the one crop that can be grown in all 50 states of America so it’s appropriate that the FFA (Future Farmers of America) emblem we see on the FFA student’s jackets is a cross section of an ear of corn. That emblem has been around since 1926. Corn is food for both humans and livestock as well as being used for many other purposes.

Just think of all the foods we enjoy such as corn on the cob (aka roastin’ ears), cornbread, cornflakes, and we use corn oil for cooking but there are many other uses for the corn we grow. Here are just a few:

1. Ethanol can be made from corn for fuel but corn derivatives are also used in some batteries in the form of bio-electricity. Cornstarch is often used as an electrical conductor.

2. Corn plastics are used in food containers, disposable dishware and even gift cards. These plastics are better for the environment because they are biodegradable.

3. Cornstarch is a common ingredient in many cosmetics, deodorants, and hand sanitizers.

4. Corn-based pellets can be used in pellet stoves to heat homes.

5. Many medications and vitamins contain corn products, particularly cornstarch. Cornstarch is used because it is a safe, natural, and easily digested by humans.

6. Corn is used to make textile products like the carpets that we walk on and also is found in colorings and dyes.

7. Glue and adhesives commonly contain cornmeal or cornstarch. Even that envelope you lick contains a cornstarch adhesive that becomes sticky when moistened.

Fun Facts

  • There is one silk for every kernel that grows on an ear of corn.
  • Corn comes in various colors such as purple, green, red, and white but yellow is the most common.
  • There can be anywhere from 500 to around 1,200 kernels per ear of corn and a typical ear contains 800 kernels in 16 rows.
  • It is estimated that 25 percent of grocery items probably contain some form of corn product.

Next time you see a farmer, and there are many in our area, remember to be thankful for each one because they are feeding the world.

I’ll leave you now and maybe I’ll go make some popcorn, but first, I did want to tell you that I once went into a corn maze but I felt like I was being stalked. It was earie!

Now that’s corny!

By Pamela Perry Blaine

April 2021

Reading the Newspaper

Reading the Newspaper

I’m sitting here reading the newspaper. Can you hear the sound of the paper as I turn the pages? I don’t know about you but I still like holding a real newspaper instead of scrolling on the internet. My newspaper is like a good friend that comes in my rural mailbox every week and tells me what’s happening in our community.

I know we live in a time where many small newspapers are closing up shop because electronic mail and other forms of communication seem to be taking over, yet, I think our small town newspapers are wonderful.

Our local paper may not have as many pages, as much news about other countries, or national news like big city newspapers but it has something important. It has the news about what is happening right here in the area where we live.

Just think of all the information that we get in our local newspaper. There’s something to interest everyone. We read about our local school activities, ballgames, band performances, and board meetings. We see what is happening with healthcare, law enforcement, clubs, and organizations in our area. We learn about blood drives, benefits, church activities, and new businesses. Stores advertise what they sell, what is on sale, and what new products they have to offer our community.

We live in a time like no other with information flowing like a constant flash flood. There’s news and information on radio, television, internet sites, social media, along with tweets and text messaging. On top of that we have E-Mail and regular mail from the post office. We get a lot of junk mail that causes us to wear out the delete button on computers and open postal mail over the trash can.

Information seems to have gotten more like that old game of Gossip that we used to play as we sat in a circle and whispered a sentence in our neighbor’s ear. By the time the information reached the last person in the circle, it had changed to the point that it was hardly recognizable from the first time it was whispered.

Today information is flowing fast and furious but is it true? Many of the people I talk to are so frustrated by this problem that they are just not listening to news anymore.

When I have visitors from out of town, they pick up our local newspaper and say things like, “Wow! This is great.” When I ask what they like about it, it’s usually something about the hometown feel of the articles and stories. Where else can you read about what’s for lunch at the senior center, who got married, and who attended a birthday party?

We turn the page and there’s the listing of old time news with excerpts from the newspaper from ten, twenty, or even one hundred years ago.

I find it gratifying and amazing how our community comes together to raise money for worthy causes. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fire department fundraising barbecue or a family experiencing a tragedy, everyone tries to help.

There are pictures and listings of anniversary celebrations and new babies that have arrived that bring us joy. As Carl Sandburg said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Another special thing in our local newspaper is how they handle obituaries. There isn’t just a short paragraph like city papers that only have room for a few words. Our newspaper has full obituaries that tell life stories. We find out things that we didn’t know about people when we read their obituary in the newspaper. We see a list of relatives as well as learning about their occupation, hobbies, military service, organizations they were a part of, and church membership. All of this is important because, after all, an obituary is usually the last thing written about someone and it’s so nice to have this remembrance in the newspaper.

There is so much more to our local newspapers. We see articles and art work by local people and we also enjoy stories about our small towns back when they were teeming with stores and businesses. We also read about reflections on life, family, and friendship as well as humorous articles that make us laugh, and forget life’s problems for a while.

I know we can find news and even read newspapers, books, and magazines online as I often do. Yet, there’s just something special about the rattling sound of shaking the newspaper open and even the scent of the paper. And that’s why I’m sitting here, reading the newspaper.

By Pamela Perry Blaine

March 2021