Years ago, I “volunteered” to compile the weekly odds-and-ends column for a certain small-town newspaper, which I’m not at liberty to name.
The guy who performed these duties before me had to leave because the newsroom had become too small to accommodate his ever-expanding head. Apparently he had one of those designer diseases, like gout. Except it affected the other end of his anatomy.
The idea of the column was that reporters would submit items from their beats — anecdotes, quotes or little snippets that just didn’t seem to fit in that week’s stories.
The problem was, I took over the column at the same time a new wave of reporters came in who also suffered from a designer disease. This affliction rendered them unable to do one iota more than the minimum required of them. Apparently, this disease rendered them immune from having to submit items for the odds and ends column.
Of course, in this enlightened age, much latitude is given in the workplace for those afflicted with such debilitating diseases.
Short story long, it came to the point that, week after week, I found myself scrambling to compile enough items to flesh out the column. So, one fine day, I dove into the newspaper archives and found articles from 20, 30 or even 50 years ago and added a few of these snippets of news from the past to the weekly column. For the sake of efficiency, I would research and compile a month’s worth of them at a time.
Most people seemed to enjoy the historical items. Most. Apparently there were a few who didn’t, a few who had enough clout to do something about it. That particular part of the column died suddenly and mysteriously. The only explanation I was given was that too much time was being spent researching it. Imagine that. Perhaps my time would have been better spent researching the malady that had beset my coworkers and rendered them unable to submit items for the column.
What brings all this business to mind is my friend, Ken, recently dropped off a few copies of the paper from the 1970s.
So, since I’m conducting this exhaustive and expensive research on my own time, I’ve decided to revive this part of the weekly odds-and-ends column and publish it in my own venue. At least for the time being.
I have here a copy of the paper from May 27, 1977. Interestingly, even back then, the local schools were in a quandary about school facilities. These days, the district is trying figure out a way to build a new middle school and shuffle students around to get the most out of existing structures. Back then, the school board voted to move its headquarters to the local college, freeing up space in an old elementary school for additional classes. Apparently, the baby boom had not ebbed to the point that rendered many buildings obsolete.
In national news, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute was objecting to proposed federal regulations to make walk-behind lawn mowers safer. The folks at OPEI were concerned that, by adding shields to protect limbs from being trimmed along with the Kentucky bluegrass and red fescue, the price of lawn mowers would skyrocket. The projected annual cost to consumers would be $371 million higher, OPEI claimed. The article’s author didn’t factor in the savings in hospital bills for the amputees.
Also on the national front, the good news was there would be plenty of gas for the Memorial Day weekend. The bad news was, it would cost at whopping 56.6¢ a gallon.
One of the things I liked to include with the historical snippets was the fare at the local cinema. At that time, it was “Airport ’77,” “It’s Alive” and “Winnie the Pooh.”
There is is. All the news that’s fit to omit.
In conclusion, I’ll borrow a quote, which is borrowed from a quote: “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.”
Apparently, this is a bastardized version of a quote attributed to George Santayana, who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Which would explain a lot about the school buildings, safety regulations and movies.