News You Can Use

KeyWestCitizenBldgWhen I was a child in the 50’s, the Key West Citizen was an afternoon newspaper.  Picture:  (Pinterest/Poyer).  After school, boys would roll up the 10 page or so newspapers into thin easy to throw 12-inch cylinders, secure them with small rubber bands and stack them in the big baskets on the front of their bikes. This was when news wasn’t so immediate. Most people got their national news from the Newsreel at the picture show on weekends. The paper was lovingly called the mullet wrapper as it was mostly used to wrap bait for fishing or to line the bottom of birdcages.

Today the Citizen is a 7-day a week morning paper. It’s mostly all the local news that’s fit to print and some that isn’t, although there is a half page of national news in the back, but even that’s mostly celebrities in trouble or making zillions. There is a pretty nice even-handed op-ed page with a couple of national pundits or columnists daily, and some editorial comment about local or national issues. So the paper is not just fluff, but the fluff is what’s so great.

Maybe by being only a quarter inch thick on most days, the Key West Citizen seems to be read by almost everyone. Not a large paper, it tells us what’s going on in our hometown in a way that is interesting and informative and brief. At the top under a synopsis of the daily weather is a charming colored drawing of the weather by an elementary school student. It’s usually the first thing I look at. The rest of the page is full of local news, fishing or boating calamities, accidents on the Overseas Highway, roadwork slowdowns, and other bad news. The good stuff is saved for the Sunday Entertainment section.

I really like the second page: club or organization news and activities at the top for those who are overinvolved, but just interesting for others. The rest of the page has some good reading. One of the most fun is Citizen’s Voice. Here residents can write in anonymously with gripes about other gripes, traffic, city government, rude neighbors or tourists, bicyclists, really almost anything that irritates. Someone will say,” I hate it here,” and the next day someone will write, “Then go somewhere else.” And occasionally a Thanks or Job Well Done will appear.

One of my favorites is Today in Keys History. Almost always with an historical picture, lately this has begun with an excerpt from a diary kept by the local magistrate in the first half of the 19th century, when Key West was an island only accessible by sailing ship and with a population of 500 whites, 76 free blacks, and 96 slaves. (From a History of Key West by Jerry Wilkinson.) A slower way of life is revealed and commerce very dependent on the sea. The rest of the column has something printed in the newspaper 100 years ago, 50 years ago and 10 years ago. Not a history, but a report of what happened on that day. The local Crime Report is also on the second page, mostly done tongue in cheek I think, but not always sure.

The next page has obituaries and as you age, you read them thinking you might know the person but you hardly ever do. And also there is a photo of the Citizen of the Day, a nice tribute to people who have adopted Key West as their home. Then there is the comic’s page with a nice fairly simple Crossword and Sudoku.

The other daily section is the Sports page. It has a High School senior athlete profile each week honoring players in various sports from all of the schools on the Keys. There are fishing advisories with what’s biting, also powerboat races and a swim around the island every year. On Saturday all religious services are listed for the benefit of errant tourists in need of healing, sustenance or peace.

The Key West Citizen is a really good newspaper, a paper you can peruse unlike the Internet when you’re never quite sure where anything is, as it seems to change daily. I know print media is slowly disappearing, but I hope small town newspapers will continue to prevail and delight. It certainly helps bind Key West together as a community.

4 thoughts on “News You Can Use”

  1. Thanks for another good blog. The Key West Citizen sounds a lot like the Los Alamos Monitor, doesn’t it? You’ve experienced both! The Monitor, though, has taken to delivery by the USPS. Delivery people have apparently proved too expensive and unreliable! At least we now don’t have to tip to try to get good service.
    Your comment about reading the obits made me smile. More and more we’re finding we know those who have died: some are friends, others acquaintances, and some are well-known in the community. It’s sobering to realize that most are people of our generation. Makes me think “Repent, the end is near!” Hah!

  2. When I was a kid, I guess rubber bands were either too expensive to be used for rolling up newspapers or our area of the country hadn’t discovered them, yet. Our “paperboys” folded them into a square and tucked the last edge in. Those squares of paper would act much like a frizbee. With a little practice they could be placed right in front of the door. I remember practicing folding the papers after my parents had finished with them until I learned to make a good tight bundle. I could then practice throwing them. At that age, I thought the really neat older boys all became “paperboys.” Little did I know about getting up early, rain or shine, to get the papers on folks porches. I never grew up to be one of those, however. Thanks for reminded me of those special times.

  3. Joanne…..

    This brought back memories of my small hometown’s newspaper: The Daily Republic in
    Mitchell, South Dakota. Delivered late afternoon by local boys on bikes tossing it into your
    front yard. I especially remember the articles about local social events. They read something
    like this……..

    A lovely afternoon tea was hosted on Wednesday by Mrs. Vernon Larson in honor of her
    sister, Mrs. John Johnson who is visiting from Parkston.. Several local ladies were in
    attendance in spite of the warm day and all agreed it was a most gracious event.
    Mrs. Larson used her mother’s exquisite bone china cups and saucers and was
    attired in a fetching pink frock with peplum at the waist and lace ruching on the bodice.
    Mrs. Johnson wore a lovely pale blue suit and fashionable white pumps purchased on
    on a recent shopping trip to Minneapolis. The very latest in fashion. Also seen at the
    tea were several exquisite hats decorated with flowers and ribbons. The table held
    bountiful platters of tiny sandwiches, crystal bowls of fresh strawberries, raspberries
    and several summer salads as well as mints and nuts. The centerpiece was a 4 layer
    coconut cake with pink icing surrounded by pink flowers from Mrs. Larson’s garden.
    Tres magnifique! Mrs. David Nelson poured and Mrs. Larson’s 12 year old daughter,
    Miss Carol Ann Larson, provided a charming background of music on the piano.

    Thanks for the memories! I loved it!

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