Most Anchor subscribers likely received a letter from the diocese recently, explaining the need for this wonderful publication to begin a monthly run beginning in April.
There is no question for the need to transition to a monthly, and frankly, that trend is happening in newspapers across the country with secular and Catholic editions.
It does sadden me to a degree that the news media is trending toward a digital world, but as the late, great ex-Beatle George Harrison sang, “All things must pass.”
But I’d like to take this opportunity to share just what the word printed on paper means to me, not just as an Anchor staffer, but as a person.
The printed word started with the children’s books read to me at first and then read on my own once my little mind learned the fine art of deciphering words.
I was a book worm. One of the first books I borrowed from the Fall River Public Library was a book about Martians; an illustrated, delightful story. I read it to the moon (or Mars) and back! I think the borrower register at the back of the book must have had my library card on it for 90 percent of the times it was borrowed.
I can’t for the life of me remember what the book was, but if it ever creeps back into my memory, I’ll search for it on the Internet (digital media — go figure).
Later in life I became engulfed in the awesome Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles.”
I was a regular in the basement floor of the Public Library, where the children’s books were housed. Those fond memories have remained a part of who I was and became. I do recall that after I was married I went to my parents for a visit. While there my mother received a phone call — from the Public Library! It seems I had taken a book out nearly 10 years prior and never returned it. They graciously told my mom there would be no fine and if I could please return the book.
I sensed what the call was about, and when Millie hung up, she gave me the evil eye like only Millie could. She, as graciously as she could, repeated the phone conversation. I had to chuckle and she did too. I did have the book, and after a decade-long absence, the book made its way back home. I simply forgot.
I loved reading all types of books at St. Anne’s School — English, history, science. Everything except math. My nemesis. O — one of the big reasons I majored in English at university.
My affinity for newspapers began in the mid-1960s. That’s when the sports bug had bitten me and gave me a chronic, often painful love of all sports Boston.
As a pup, I grew to enjoy the Boston Record-American, that later became the Boston Herald. I loved the tabloid size of the paper, and to me, it held the works of the greatest sports writers in the world. Better than the rival Boston Globe.
My parents didn’t buy the Record-American, since neither was a sports fan. But my pépère lived across the street from me and he and my dear Uncle Pete were huge sports fans and got the Record-American daily. I developed a routine as I grew in sports age and wisdom where I’d give pep and Uncle Pete time to digest the sports pages, then I would, when there was no school, head across the street. They knew why I was there and had the paper ready for me to sit with them, read and at times discuss.
They never threw the paper out without my having devoured it first. In fact, I still have tucked away in a box in the basement, several Record-Americans from the 1967 World Series when my beloved Red Sox fell one game short of edging out the St. Louis Cardinals for the pennant. And I still have a handful of Record-Americans from when the 1969-70 Boston Bruins didn’t fall short and did indeed win the Stanley Cup. One of those papers had a double-truck spread of the iconic photo taken by Record-American photographer Ray Lussier, of the greatest ice hockey player of all time, Bobby Orr, flying through the air after being tripped as he scored the cup-clinching goal. When my daughter Emilie was at Diman High School, I had her laminate the whole double-truck and have it framed in my home. The only thing missing is Orr’s autograph, which I have, but not on that.
As fate would have it, I picked up a paper route when I was young to earn some spending money. My route was in the city’s south end with nothing but three-deckers. Not only did I have to climb and descend the stairs in the apartment buildings delivering the printed word, but nearly every house on the block had at least 10 stairs from the sidewalk to the yard. Not only was the written word strengthening my mind, but it was also giving me legs like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Through high school, my love for books and magazines increased. Pieces about Martians and sports became rock and roll and sports. I was a staffer for the Durfee High School newspaper, The Hilltopper, and was the sports editor in my senior year.
At university I was exposed to a treasure trove of great literature — with three favorites emerging: Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe.
When I landed my job at The Anchor in 1995, my reading consisted mostly of the paper, so coming home to curl up with a good book taxed my already tired eyes.
As time passed, I regained my passion for reading. I tried Kindle books, but it felt very alien swiping to the next page instead of turning an actual page. I quickly went back to hard copies.
During the pandemic, my passion for reading was resurrected. I found all the COVID news on TV tedious and down-right depressing. Books were my escape again. And just recently I discovered the Inspector Gamache series — a contemporary detective series set in my motherland Quebec. I am on book eight of 18. I started the series in mid-January of this year, and each book is 300-500 pages long. I should be done with the remaining 10 installments by mid-March.
Many things have “passed” since the good old days. Television has gone from three stations and a couple of snowy UHF channels, where my love for the Boston Bruins was born, to hundreds of mostly useless, time-wasting productions.
Youngsters going outside to play has been replaced by video games and cell phones. And dinner shared around the table as a family was commandeered by the afore mentioned TV, videos and cell phones.
It appears as though the printed newspaper’s years are waning. Time to turn the page.
Most will adapt, and others will still find the printed word, but it will just be a bit tougher to find.