Al Paschall: Somedays Takes A “-30-“””
As a kid staring out in the newspaper business, I could make a few extra bucks by working nights taking stories over the phone. Some were news, others were sports but most were obituaries. Funeral Directors calling in the lives and times of the extraordinary, the ordinary and the rest of us. Each of these stories typewritten on pulp ended with -30-. Some say based on ancient roman numerals, other claim coming out of the era of the telegraph during the Civil War -30- told the typesetters of the time that the story was over. Today Somedays turns -30-.
So what do old newspaper people do when their time runs out? They just go out of circulation. So this scribe does today. The snow shovels and rock salt have been donated to a good cause, the sun block is packed and a place called CocoBeach in Florida calls to the wife and me and to add a bit of poetry that’s where we hope to soon be. (I’ve always wanted to try poetry but never had the nerve.)
This is the 270th and last edition of ‘Somedays’. After 17 years and four series: ‘We the People,&amp;quot; &amp;quot;Of the People,&amp;quot; and the generous use of Joni Mitchell’s &amp;quot;The Circle Game&amp;quot; about 500 columns later, it is time to call it a day.
By no means is there a shortage of topics to write about. The temptation of taking on the Department of Energy’s totally wasteful Department of Diversity is electrifying. Public school districts in Pennsylvania who employ as many administrators as teachers, depriving students of any choice in education while screaming about Corbett’s budget cuts could be good for many sad laughs. The defense contractors and pharmaceuticals paying executives salaries of $12 to $19 million a year, gaming the taxpayers for constant employment subsidies, would generate a thousand words in a heart beat.
But now it somebody else’s turn.
Oh, I may crawl off the beach from time to time to write a rant or a rave. When Dianne and I reach the beach (there goes the poetry again) we are scheduled to have lunch with the legendary Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today and Florida Today. Who knows some days he might need 600 words of wisdom for one of his newspapers?
If newspapers last. Wrapped in eccentricity, unbridled ego and a liberal ethic that came to dominate newsrooms at the end of the 20th century these dinosaurs better change or they will die.
The sad part for me is that so few editors seem to notice that their readers are taking a walk. Away.
The hope is that in the digital age more and more people will get their opinions out there. Surely there are enough problems in this world to solve. Whether or not we annihilate ourselves should be top of the list. Earth quakes causing tsunamis that destroy nuclear reactors, poisoning the oceans, might be of interest to some people. The unbridled corruption of the government class, on all levels, could find a headline or two.
And, who knows, maybe, someday all of these problems will be solved. I’d like to think I’ve done my part in trying to do that.
Special thanks to the millions of readers and listeners over the years. The producers, the editors, who were a pain in my lower parts, and especially the critics who kept my head on straight. May the one God who made us all, may She bless and protect you.
Effective today Albert Paschall is Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, a non profit educational foundation based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Since 1994 his commentaries have been syndicated to leading newspapers and radio stations through out Pennsylvania. He is the author of &amp;quot;I haven’t found Laura yet&amp;quot; and &amp;quot;The Inn Mover’s Diary.&amp;quot; He holds a National Legacy Award for historic preservation. He can be reached at [email protected] and will soon be roaming Coco Beach, Florida.