By Delilah McMasters
COVID-19 has me longing for a newspaper, a connection to my community, my neighbor. I want to know about the kid who made the touchdown Friday night, the new business in town and all of the local news surrounding my neighborhood.
Newspapers are a thing of the past, no one wants them any longer. Yet everyone who has ever rustled one between their fingers misses them. Growing up I loved getting the Sunday paper with all the sales inserts, the comics, looking at the wedding announcements, Dear Abby and I remember my first subscription to the Texarkana Gazette as a newlywed and how much I felt like an adult retrieving my very own paper from the driveway and being the first one to crack it open in the morning. Later on we moved to the Mansfield area and the newspaper was my best friend: it had all the local news, points of interest, events, restaurant reviews and all the ads for places and shops to go explore, it was my guide to a new adventure with six kids in tow and I couldn’t wait for Friday’s paper to map out a plan.
But it’s the gray area between the three kids and the move to Mansfield which makes me appreciate and miss a newspaper the most. Money was tight, we were starting over, trying to make things better and stronger, the kids’ dad worked four to five jobs to make ends meet and to keep me home with the kids. One of the jobs he had was newspaper routes, and on the weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas I rode shotgun and helped. We even took the kids on occasion and let them sleep surrounded by bundles of papers.
Every night you showed up at the dock and got in line between midnight and 2 a.m. to start loading your bundles of newspapers. Pulled over to the side of the building popped the plastic band holding the bundle, rolled, rubber banded and bagged enough to cruise through the dark, weaving back and forth across neighborhoods. The feel of the newspapers slightly damp from the press, rubber bands popping your knuckles as they stretched too tight, plastic bags skidding and sliding all over the car as the seasonal air flowed through the car and the a/c or heater blowing full blast! By the end of the night you would be covered in newsprint ink and the car would be full of plastic bands and busted rubber bands. It’s hard to explain all the sensations or the quiet of working in the dark of the night. Then there were the late start nights, because of elections, holidays, Friday night football, or God forbid, a press repair waiting for a part from Little Rock, that had you anxiously listening for the ring of the conveyor belt meaning the press was starting, and then racing against the clock and a sunrise of customers waiting on their porches. Mail carriers get Sunday off, newspaper carriers worked 365 days of the year, through all seasons, and battled dogs, paper theft or newly installed sprinkler systems, meaning they would get home bone weary, get a call from the office and have to go back out and deliver another paper. There were no Google maps, it was all done with a cassette tape that had to be updated each time a new customer signed up for the paper. Finding houses in the dark, trying not to wake anyone up, flinging newspapers from a moving vehicle and still managing to leave it in the middle of the driveway! And there were the older customers who needed you to walk to the porch and leaving it at the door, all in the heat, rain, snow, sleet, in the dark.
A whole work industry has disappeared as technology has advanced. It was so cool the first time I read the news online, now it’s a barrage of information I have to research. If you are not on Instagram, Facebook, tiktok, you are probably missing all sorts of restaurants, offices, shops and giveaways! The comic section, puzzles, scavenger hunts, editorials and columnist have been replaced with websites, apps and bloggers.
But once upon a time it took a daily, dedicated crew of journalists, reporters, editors, page layout designers, print masters and a gaggle of paper carriers to keep us all informed.
I want a newspaper again. I know it’s not feasible to hold one in my hands, but it is possible to have a dedicated local group wanting to make sure we stay informed and connected and have it accessible every week. Pull up a chair, welcome to Mansfield, welcome to our community.
Delilah McMasters is a local resident and mom of six. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.