The 125 miles (171 km) in New Brunswick Canada we walked proved to be a welcoming experience, just as advertised.
The most common sign in New Brunswick is “Welcome / Bienvenue” which seems to not only be a slogan but a north star for most Canadians. In our week-long Beyond Borders Walk walking journey along the Coastal Link Trail in New Brunswick we were fortunate to have experienced, many times, what Canadian hospitality and friendliness is all about.
All public signs issued by the federal government, but only those issued by the Province of New Brunswick, must be in French and English. This area values its tourism and its importance as a melting pot for all making their way east and west or even north and south from the U.S.
A Welcome Promise
Our excursion into Canada was a direct result of a welcome pledge our group was given four years ago. At that time, Loredana Delucchi, a member of our U.S.-based FreeWalkers, walking group, crossed the border with Ken Kurland And Nancy Jonap to St. Stephen to present Mayor Allan MacEachern a Canadian penny, a New York City subway token and a knitted bear doll as a gesture of a special friendship and their accomplishment of walking along the East Coast Greenway from New York to Canada over a period of years. Borders were crossed and lives were changed by reaching out. That effort culminated in a promise by the mayor, in turn, to not only welcome them back again but to build a new pedestrian trail along the St. Croix River.
Going Beyond Borders … Again
Our plan was to walk the 125-mile (171-km) newly charted Coastal Link Trail from Saint John ending in St. Stephen. We started our journey walking across the U.S./Canadian border in St. Stephen where Cherie Stewart, Implementation Manager of the Coastal Link Trail waited to drive us for over an hour to Saint John where we would start our week of walking. We had just driven over 12 hours to the border. Without her help to get to the start, the entire walk would not have happened.
Tracking us throughout our journey was Susan Hill, Executive Director Charlotte County Tourism. From the start, Susan tracked our movement throughout New Brunswick. About a third into our trip, she met us in Pogologan and popped up occasionally all day long to check in on how we were doing. She was there to see us off, invite us to her home in Penfield and show us the harbor and fishing industry in St. George, where her husband and many of the population worked. Susan became our guide about the area and the fishing business that has become the most successful industry in the area. Now, it was time for tourism to add even more to the economy.
Another host, Dave, proudly talked of his days working in radio and his love of rock music easily displayed in walls of vinyl records. Dave and I both shared a passion for the music of Bruce Springsteen, a New Jersey icon, who often transcends geographic, generational and cultural boundaries. Dave was also kind enough to lend me his bicycle to ride around the town, saying “Don’t bother locking the bike!”, backed by lessons learned years living in this area.
Don was the welcoming, thoughtful and philosophical B&B host. This old Victorian home in the Chamcook area where we stayed was filled with curious pictures, furniture and curios that spoke of mystery and a different time that was still treasured. He represented an interesting dichotomy of the old and new. He respected the old but was an advocate of building new trails and opening up the area to tourism. He was even kind enough to drive us a few miles into St. Andrews for dinner and pick us up while giving us a brief history of the resort town and the places to see.
Just as noticeable were small gestures of friendship along the way: Kathy and Junior opened up the Musquash Rec center to provide water, a friendly ATV operator, Stephen, stopped to see if we needed help, the EMS tech that helped get Ken to the hospital after a muscle spasm, the restaurant owner Rachel from Comeau’s Seafood Restaurant who gave us free lunch, the Taylor’s who shared water, their art and their life story, the St. Andrews retiree, Hans who said although his job had taken him all around the world, there was nothing better than where he was now, or the golfer’s surprise at seeing me accidentally riding a bike onto the Algonquin course at Joe’s Point in the middle of his teeing up and just saying, “Isn’t it beautiful? But, you know beauty can be found anywhere, if you look hard enough.”
A St. Stephen Welcome
On Saturday, August 6 we met with Cherie and Mayor Allan and other trail officials for a casual walk on the new pedestrian path that the Mayor had led over the last four years. In addition, the mayor led us to a large mural that was in the process of being finished. To our surprise, the artist would paint into the mural both the image of FreeWalker Loredana and Mayor Alan walking together on the newly created riverfront trail.
The trip was about fulfilling a promise to return, renew friendships and walk the new trails of New Brunswick. We had become the first group to walk the full Coastal Link Trail, a trail that now connects the enormous Trans Canada Trail system with the East Coast Greenway in the U.S.providing access to thousands of miles (or kilometers) of walking, hiking, and biking trails.
We discovered that what we all cherish most is more access and less borders and obstacles that keep us apart.
Serendipity happens when you most need it. A retired New Brunswick couple share their lives with us.
It was hump-day, Wednesday, probably the hardest day of our 125-mile (171 km), week-long, Beyond Borders Walk from Saint John, New Brunswick to St. Stephen, the last Canadian border town near the tip of Maine.
Today, there were 23 miles of walking from St. George to the Chamcook Forest Lodge near St. Andrews. Ken, our fourth team member was out with a back spasm. We started walking country roads which eventually turned into highways. It was not quite like walking an Interstate, but close. By mid-afternoon, the temperature reached the high 80’s, only made hotter by the asphalt, so much so you could feel heat through your shoes. The only relief was an occasional bay breeze near the top of a hill.
This is a relatively undeveloped area of the Provence of New Brunswick just a few miles from the shore. St. George’s lush woods soon gave way to a desolate area with few houses and no commercial business for miles. Even traffic seemed rare. The only thing interesting out here is dead porcupine roadkill.
As the day heated up, I realized I had made a rookie mistake. A long hot day walking requires more than a couple bottles of water, especially when there is no place to refill. About 18 miles (6 hours) into the walk I find myself light-headed and completely empty in every respect. I’m in that state where you watch the heat create mirage waves on the road and begin to wonder “How am I going to make it to the end?”
Miraculously, while heading up a long stretch of highway there appears a sign in the road saying, “Taylor’d Art” an “Open” flag waving underneath. This area was dotted with lakes with a few homes set back. This one though could be seen clearly. Although, we did not come this far to see and appreciate local art, we had no choice and no willpower left to pass this by.
Theresa and Burl Taylor are about as happy couple as I ever met. Married just 52 years ago they were most welcoming to the three of us as we asked (we would have begged) for water. Theresa has maybe 200 natural setting paintings here in a small shed which she had created. She has experimented with various artistic methods from watercolors to oils, flock to canvas and many other methods I had never heard of. Being efficient walkers, we opted to buy a few beautiful refrigerator magnets that pretty much exemplified her work in miniature.
Burl came by with a big pitcher of water and we began talking about life out here as we began to revive. They had moved into a smaller version of this home 50 years ago and discovered this was the place they always wanted to be. Years went by and Burl expanded the house, built a garage, chicken coop, workshop and swimming pool. Much of this prior to his retiring as a forestry engineer. His property and projects look like he put a lot of thought into them.
Theresa is a self-taught artist. As she describes it, one day she just started scribbling and copying things until she began painting a scene, going over and over it until it was right. She presented it to Burl and said this is what she wanted to do and he agreed. Decades later she continues to paint, mainly for the pleasure of it. She painted so much they needed to move some out pieces and Taylor’d Art was born.
They had a son who Theresa mentions often as he developed into an talented artist who’s paintings she still sells. Unfortunately, he passed away a while ago but you can tell he’s very much part of their lives.
There are no other children but a very large extended family. Theresa was one of 21 children! Her mother, whom they speak about with reverence, gave birth to all 21 children individually, no twins or triplets! And, she passed away at the age of 46 due to cancer. Theresa said she spent a great deal of her time with her many siblings and keeps in touch with them often. We are in awe. Can you imagine what a family reunion must look like?
After much water and talk we had to go. Time is very unforgiving when you are walking. I think they enjoyed our company as much as we did their’s. We could have easily stayed for hours learning more about how Theresa and Burl share what they do together – their art, building, hunting, fishing, getting by in the winter and the life between them.
When you are out here you have to be flexible, forgiving, innovative and self-reliant. The Taylor's have figured a way to make the most of their lives and offer an oasis to others.
Just getting started on our walk. Getting adequate sleep in strange places is a must.
Jul 31 – Day 1 Walking – Sunday was our first full day in Canada. Tom and I stayed Saturday night at “A Tanner’s Home B&B” which was once a curiously old (148 years old) home of a wealthy gentleman who made his fortune in tanning leather goods and real estate. Today, it was an airbnb-like home which had a 1800s historical vibe but updated to accommodate tourists. It’s still a work in progress.
Our hosts, Doreen and Sebastian were proud ex-pat Indians who found their formula for retirement hosting this B&B in the warmer months and flying back to Mumbai the rest of the year. Sebastian, a former sea captain, hates the cold but loves Canada.
Like many parents in search of the best for their family while planning for the next phase of retirement, Canada seemed to fit. There is an active Indian population here in Saint John and a government more inclined to take in immigrants than most. The price you pay is an investment of capital in a legitimate ongoing business to get the benefits of citizenship. This enabled Sebastian to send his kids to Canadian universities where they established residency in Toronto.. They are planning that big wedding for their daughter who had to marry quietly during the pandemic. Hope is that grandchildren will soon be in the picture.
Meanwhile, Tom and Loredana set out on on Sunday to run a half marathon before we started our long Beyond Borders Walk later that day. The “Marathon by the Sea” mostly follows the pedestrian trail along the waterfront and ends around noon. After a shower and change, the four of us begin walking the trail out of Saint John, heading for St. Stephen an almost unimaginable 125 miles away. But today we planned an easy day of only 7 miles to get to our next destination, the Regent Hotel just on the outskirts of Saint John.
The Regent was as basic a motel as you could get. But it helped us get a start on the journey. Rooms were dingy but clean. Little tiny soap bars, shampoo in sealed envelopes and no air conditioning. Luckily the single ceiling fan was all we needed. The only problems were no coffee and no place to eat within walking distance. Luckily we found a restaurant that delivered in this remote outskirts of Saint John. With pleasant weather and a single outdoor picnic table the four of us shared a good-enough Chinese dinner.
Its not difficult to find people that want to talk to strangers here at the motel or anywhere in this area. One couple was coming from Manitoba with plans to retire in Nova Scotia. Another guy, with sunburned face and head, struck up a conversation about how he had moved to Alberta only to find his partner had decided she need to be alone. Now he was back to rekindle a relationship with his children and grandkids. Glad to be back “home” he looked forward to seeing his son drive race cars. His sunburned head and face were proof of how he just witnessed a drag car hitting 210 miles per hour. A happy camper glad to be back.
Motels and B&B’s serve a useful purpose in helping us move on. We need sleep to move forward in the morning. But, every host and guest has a story from the past and a story yet to come.
Check out more information and stay up to date on the Beyond Borders Walk here.
We were coming to the saints – to march from one to the other.
It was a long, twisted journey that seemed to grow out of reach. Our objective was to walk in New Brunswick province Canada from Saint John to St. Stephen, a distance of approximately 125 miles. We seemed to be “The first group of walkers to travel the newly created Coastal Link Trail on foot.”
Loredana Delucchi, a friend and experienced fellow Freewalker (freewalkers.org), had struck up a relationship with the mayor of St. Stephen, the Canadian border town, a few years ago when she fulfilled an obsession of walking to Canada from New York City. She somehow convinced others to join her along the way. You can begin to understand how this happened reading her personal story called The Return of the Canadian Penny.
To be brief, I got sucked into the new extended challenge in Canadian territory along with her traveling companion Ken Kurland and a mutual friend Tom Glynn. We were all experienced long distance walkers who had walked similar distances before; even internationally. It seems much of the world appreciates the benefits of walking as a great exercise, form of social communication, travel experience and personal challenge. We were here to do it again but in a new place.
Why the Saint Cities?
Mayor Allan MacEachern had noted in the past that Canadians were excited about the new Coastal Link Trail and others that connected their country through the huge Trans Canada Trail system and appreciated the fact that the East Coast Greenway in the U.S. ended right at the border of Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, NB. It gave the small city hope and focus for revival not only by increasing commerce but improving the health of the community.
So a new challenge was born we called the “Beyond Borders Walk.” Connecting trails means more places to walk and more opportunities to connect to others, even across borders. We soon began planning our walking event, not really understanding the challenges ahead.
Is the Trail Ready for Us?
First, there’s the logistics of the walk. The Coastal Link Trail is pretty well defined but as in most early trail efforts their are lots of questions as to where it goes, traffic, conveniences, lodging and even trail marks that show the way. Loredana worked with the trail group to iron these things out but we are pretty sure we are in for some surprises along the way.
Getting to Canada
We all know that Canada is one of the friendliest countries in the world and usually easy to cross, but this is a Covid time with a wierd business cycle. It turns out we figured the Covid restrictions were eased before we went although they do have a strict protocol for tracking vaccinations. The value of the US dollar is even stronger than ever. But one obstacle that we did not foresee is the airline problem.
About three weeks before our travel, Air Canada cancelled our flights to Saint John from Newark via Montreal. We were left with a grand detailed plan but no way to get there. We quickly scrambled to find a rental car and drive the 600+ miles to Calais, the last U.S. town before Canada. With the help of a Calais resident, Bruce Killian, we were able to leave the rental and get a ride to the border where we crossed on foot. On the other side was Cherie Stuart, of the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission, to meet us and drive us over 100 miles to Saint John where our “walking adventure” would just begin.
The Journey Begins
We arrived in Saint John at about 10:30 p.m. after starting our journey around 6:00 a.m. Loredana and Tom were registered to do a half-marathon in the morning. While Ken and I could at least sleep-in.
But tomorrow would be the first day of our seven day walk which starts July 31 and ends Saturday August 6. The first day will be relatively easy with a walk of only 7 miles. But Tom and Loredana will already have run 14 miles as their part of the marathon. I don’t envy them.
While walking or running great distances can be an extreme challenge it would be impossible without the help of all the trail staff, local politicians, friends and dreams of trail visionaries and dreamers like Loredana. Kudos to you all.
On August 18, 2021 all rides and adventures stopped for Iohan Gueorguiev. But his legend and spirit lives on in his videos and our fond memory of him.
While browsing the New York Times’ website in August of 2021 I came across a link to an article that immediately caught my attention. The link read, “Iohan Gueorguiev, ‘Bike Wanderer’ of the Wilderness, Dies at 33.” It was probably the combination of his odd name, his given title and the fact that he lived a short life that drove me to find out more.
In his short life, and in particular his last seven years, he rode over 60,000 miles, rode in 19 countries, climbed mountains, paddled rivers and experienced all sorts of discomfort, pain and pleasure along the way. Fortunately for us, he documented much of his accomplishments in a collection of over 70 YouTube videos which have had over 7 million views. His “See the World” YouTube channel was basically the travelogue of his adventures. Iohan was chasing a dream of biking from Canada’s Arctic Circle to the tip of Argentina. He almost made it.
Iohan was not unique in the adventure sport of bikepacking. But through his videos you would find that there was no one quite like him. He consistently held a positive and humble attitude as he would bravely move forward through snow, ice, wind, rain, heat, rough terrain and the highest mountains. His videos are evidence that he saw himself not as a super hero, but as a witness to a world we never see. Through him, we could vicariously conquer the harshest conditions, see the beauty on those backroads and meet the real local people (and animals) along the way.
During his last two years, Covid restrictions and logistics got in the way. But, at the end, it was the physical condition of obstructive sleep apnea which led to insomnia and then depression causing him to give up his dream and his life. His abrupt final end seemed like the ultimate paradox to a life that always found a way to overcome all obstacles.
Riding Into the Rabbit Hole
With my own experience cycling and touring on a bike, I was especially intrigued about his crazy adventures and the effect he had on others. I began pouring over one video to the next for months until I had followed his seven- year journey . From the beginning, he chose not to be the ultra-prepared, technical sportsman but to rely on on basic knowledge, a positive attitude, his intuition, friendly spirit and his ability to improvise in a McGiver-ish way. He became the “everyman adventurer” I so admired.
With no detailed plan he set out to experience the world, not to conquer it. Each trip over the years he would gain knowledge of bikes, tires, roads, weather, sponsors, photography, travel, native languages and native people. Starting with a basic GoPro camera and simple mountain bike in the Yukon he films the icy frontier and finishes his travelogue on a fat bike taking stunning drone videos of the high mountain desert of Patagonia and some of the highest peaks in the world.
The videos are not about him but about what he sees. Iohan shot and edited all the video while laying down a beautiful sound-track for each of them. They are a pleasure to watch, listen to and dream about.
The popularity of his videos and comments about his death seemed outsized for what he accomplished. Many, including me, felt like we had met him, or at least understood him. His many experiences with people and animals, especially dogs, are in those videos as evidence of a kind and caring person you could not help but admire.
The Butterfly Effect
There is a popular notion in chaos theory that some very small action can cause something great to happen called the “butterfly effect.” A story often told is that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings may eventually cause a change in the weather. I would like to think that Iohan is that butterfly for thousands of us.
His many followers vicariously lived an adventure by meeting him or experiencing his videos. I know that the hours of video I watched changed my impression of bike touring, the natural world beyond and the people we never get to meet, but wish we could – from the top of North America to bottom of South America.
I have no doubt that some of Iohan’s fans will embark on similar journeys, share friendships with others and take joy in the natural world around us because of Iohan and the work and experiences he left behind. The fluttering I hear is the sound of a bike pedal.
Lessons from another pandemic and unpredictable year. Being thankful for the good things that still happen.
A similar story was originally written a year ago as part of my Storyworth writing project. I'm updating it for our unique times in February 2022. These essays reflect personal thoughts that are written and collected to be passed on later to the family. I include this story in this blog to help remember and savor the simple and good things that we were able to enjoy and are often overlooked. As we work our way through another pandemic year in 2022, we are optimistic that the Covid Omicron variant is passing. But we still need to slowly adjust our behavior and come back to a "normal" lifestyle.
The writing challenge was to discuss, “What simple pleasures in life do you enjoy?” This question forced me to think about what I take for granted and yet value, even if they seem like small parts of my life. Unfortunately, you soon realize that many simple pleasures have had to be forgone or change over the last two years. You can find my thoughts on this same question a year ago here. Here’s to recognizing and enjoying them lately and again in the near future.
Hugging the Kiddies: Upgraded 👍
Throughout last year we made great progress, or so it seemed, until December 2021 when we had to change our behavior again! Still, there was progress – in spite of contradictory advice, vaccines, sicknesses, trial and error, minor emergencies, masks, and taking reasonable risk. No one in our family got Covid, even though there was plenty of it around us!
What that meant for me was that I gradually got to get back to a normal show of hugs and kisses to all my eight grandkids. Mary Ann and I are still cautious, often seeking news of local covid cases and at-home tests, all of which reduce stress somewhat. Probably the peak of the year was the summer season where we all got together at the Jersey shore, including our two newest members of the family: Maeve and Claire, who reached their first birthday unscathed by pandemic times. Its still not unbridled love and happiness but I’m grateful for what we have.
Live Music: It’s Still Alive 👏
While YouTube did offer some recordings and virtual streaming of performances, it was still nothing like being part of a live audience. Some concerts were held after vaccines became available and they usually required showing proof of vaccination or recent negative testing. Attendance at these concerts was often limited and sometimes attendees were spaced apart. But, it seemed that musicians and venues were ready to make up for lost time.
That summer MaryAnn and I usually played it safe and only occasionally dropped by Ruthie’s in Montclair for some live Blues played outside. There was ample room behind this juke joint and we were feeling good about the possibilities of overcoming Covid by the end of the summer. Here’s one of the very informal, fun and cool presentations of a musician we both like, Dean Shot.
On a whim, my son Ethan who lives in Lexington, MA, suggested I join him and his friend Andy at the Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston for a Wilco concert. Luckily, I was able to book cheap $29 Amtrak tickets from Metropark to South Station (one of the few benefits of this pandemic) and effortlessly traveled to Boston and back home within 24 hours! Besides getting to see him and his family, this was my first live large concert in years with about 3,000 fans in a 5,000 seat open air seasonal arena.
Maybe it was just the freedom to travel or the rarity of such an opportunity but the band and everyone there seemed to really appreciate being part of the event. The following video was a tribute to the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts who had just passed away two days before.
Over the last two years I’ve gained an appreciation of how hard it must be to be an artist, especially in a restricted world. We all need to show those that work for almost nothing these days that their efforts count. I’ve decided to actively click that pervasive “like” button or give a little to my favorite artists, like Sean Tobin, through Patreon and play a small part in helping keep music alive.
Riding a Bike: Born-to-Ride + Gravel 💪
I consider myself lucky that I chose cycling as my primary exercise sport, especially as I get older and especially in these times. Besides the obvious cardio workout, it probably is the best sport for a pandemic. Cyclist can chose to ride anywhere a road or path takes you. And, we, who are notorious for gathering in groups, can usually safely exercise together without masks because of the space and moving air between us. The Omicron wave, however, challenged even those assumptions last year. Donning a mask when we end a ride at our favorite coffee stop is not a big ask at all.
Born to Ride
I’ve organized a long distance (85 miles), end-of-season (early October) bike ride for several years called “Born to Ride” which wraps up the regular cycling season. After taking a year off because of Covid, our group managed to get the ride going again. The ride idea started about 10 years ago on a wave of Bruce Springsteen nostalgia. This year we targeted spots along the route from Ortley Beach to Sandy Hook and back that had some connection with Bruce. (BTW – We have no idea whether Bruce rides a bike. It always seemed like he should.) It was the highlight of my cycling activity for the year.
Over the last few years, a new popular trend has developed in cycling called gravel or multi-surface riding. When I had a custom designed Seven Cycles bike built a few years ago for my 1,600 mile Epic Ride, we chose a design that would allow touring and as a “cross” bike, i.e., a sturdier frameset that could ride well on-road and off-road.
Riding gravel usually means choosing a route that is primarily an unpaved dirt or gravel road. Where I live in Morristown almost all roads are paved. However, only 10 or 15 miles away I have discovered extensive areas of dirt roads, usually around farms, estates or wooded trails. Gravel riding is usually slower, bumpier and requires more attention. But the benefit is seeing and being in nature – and maybe best of all; little or no traffic. I hope riding gravel will add to my interest and options for cycling for years to come.
Walking: The Routine Exercise 🚶🏻♂️
Walking seems to be a good compliment to cycling and universally accepted. It’s low impact, anybody can do it and it adds a nice social element. Mary Ann and I have developed a daily routine of a one hour walk, usually in town, but sometimes on a trail. Walking is a great way to just get out of our rut and get back into the world. Interestingly, I notice more cyclists lately are also walking as a low intensity alternative exercise.
My history of leading the FreeWalkers, the long distance organization that I created over 1o years ago, is now a past fond memory. Although I have walked with them and will again in the future, these pandemic times have still limited my involvement which feels appropriate right now.
Sunrises and Sunsets: A Better Show 😎
There must be an explanation for it. Sunsets seemed to have been consistently outstanding this year, in particular this past fall and winter. The cloud formations and low horizon light have been stunning. It’s a welcome consolation for a trying year.
Gardening: Bumper Crop 🍅 🥕 🧑🌾
My community garden plot grew a bumper crop this past year. Most gardeners would agree that the weather conditions were near perfect. There was sufficient precipitation and seasonal temperatures. Insects seemed controllable. Lots of tomatoes and other vegetables. While cucumbers had a bad year for some reason, my grandson Jack’s sunflower seeds became the tallest plants in the whole garden with giant 18 inch heads!
Dining Out: Fun While it Lasted 🍝🦞🍔🍕
Over the past year, we gradually adventured out to restaurants where there was outdoor seating. By the summer, we had a few chosen spots near Morristown and at the shore where we felt comfortable enough to eat outside weather permitting. But by December, that seemed like a dream between the weather and the threat of Omicron, we have not eaten out in several months. We are now plotting our next meal, possibly indoors, as the threat seems to recently be reduced.
Short Hiking Getaways 🚶🏻♂️
Round Valley Camping
In the spring, son Justin, granddaughters Charlotte and Anna and granddog Arlo hiked five miles with packs for an overnight camping adventure at Round Valley Reservoir. It felt great to do an outdoor adventure again, especially with people you love and admire.
Hiking the Berkshires
In the fall, I managed to get away to Williamstown for a few days, hike Mt. Greylock (highest point in Massachusetts) and see a little bit of the Berkshires with my old friend Mike Kennedy. It was great to just get away, see something new and feel some freedom again.
Playing Handyman: Renovations 🔨🪚🔩🧰
It was well past time to renovate our master bathroom, particularly the formica double vanity. Many years ago when I was younger I enjoyed rebuilding kitchens, baths and other rooms in the house. Watching This Old House was the closest I got to a major construction project in decades. So, retirement offered an opportunity to see if I still remembered skills like plumbing, electricity, carpentry and painting.
Mary Ann found a great deal on a double vanity. After planning this out I got to demolish the current setup, install the vanity and rebuild a set of fixtures. Luckily the rest of the bathroom was fairly modern looking and only required minor improvements. It took a couple months to complete but came with great satisfaction. So much so that I recently switched the vanity in the powder room downstairs and refinished our farmhouse kitchen table. I had forgotten how much satisfaction you can get by doing a project on your own.
And a few other things…
In summary, I have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s a few more to add to the list of what I was able to enjoy this past year….
The benefits of upgrading to a new iPhone 13
The warmth and convenience of converting our wood fireplace to gas
The challenge of finishing jigsaw puzzles
Helping to build and share our ancestry roots with the family
Watching the grandkids enjoy and improve in sports
Reading other people’s life stories (shoutout to Bob, Loredana and Barb!)
Recording the family talent show “Live From Lavalette 2021” (sample below)
Here’s some memories of Christmas when I was a kid. Originally written for my Storyworth project in January 2020.
This recollection of Christmas as a child was written a year ago as part of my Storyworth writing project. These are essays reflecting personal thoughts that are written and collected to be passed on later to the family. I believe we all have fond memories at this time of the year.
I include this story in this blog to help remember and savor those simple and good times as a child, especially as we work our way to the end of another tough year in 2021. Many traditions will be paused or changed due to Covid this year. I trust children will still see the best in this holiday season and remember it fondly anyway, even if it's not all it could be.
Christmastime brings back old memories more than any other time of the year. Regardless of how old you are (I’m 72 as I write this), or where you were that Christmas, there’s always a warm memory of giving and sharing with others. It’s a time of mystery, music and carrying forth customs from long ago. Even corny decorations, questionable food choices and extreme commercialization can’t get in the way of enjoying the spirit of the season, especially as a child.
For as long as I can remember, Christmas has been a personal family tradition that we gratefully accept, look forward to and even add to as the years go on. Some Christmas traditions fade over time. And, rightly so. This year we have been forced to change or eliminate many routines that might be called traditions. Hopefully, good old traditions will make it back in future years. Or, we move on with new traditions, still keeping fragments of memories of what used to be.
Here’s some of my memories of Christmas before I turned into a teenager and became a product of the 1960’s. By then I think we had our mind on other things but we always looked forward to coming home for Christmas.
Christmas Presents at Christmas
Some of my oldest memories as a kid were of toys and presents of the day. Boys wanted guns and outfits like those worn in westerns or the military. We wanted to look like Davy Crockett or The Lone Ranger. We took our play seriously with cool toys and games that were interactive. At the time, Monopoly, Electric Football and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots were popular. Girls wished for dolls that shed tears like Tiny Tears or talked like Chatty Cathy by pulling on a string or those that looked like a teenage Barbie.
My brother John (two years older) and I had hobbies that kept us busy over many years; collecting stamps, coins, trading cards and building our HO train set in the basement. Stamp collecting, filling coin books and collecting baseball cards were ongoing, year-round projects. While that miniature HO town spent much of the year in storage. It came to life in glorious detail, like a lot of things do, each Christmas season.
When I was very young, we rode trains, buses or walked more than we used cars. Most major highways had yet to be built. My father and mother moved to Roselle from Jersey City when I was just a few years old but still connected to family using the Jersey Central Railroad. They did not even have a drivers license or car for several years.
It was easy to see how you could build a miniature imaginative city around a HO train line including a smoking engine, switch tracks, an elevated trestle, street lights, miniature farms, factories and parks. We plowed back the money we made on our newspaper routes into our growing town, which became really special at Christmas.
Hobby stores were fairly common businesses in those days and a great place for gifts. There were Revell plastic model kits that taught you the parts of a 32’ Duce Coup, a B-52 bomber or even the parts of a body like “The Visible Man” (or Visible Woman). You could even get creative by customizing your “Hot Rod” car with paint, decals and optional parts like fender skirts and a continental kit.
As we got older there were more challenging kits to build working models like airplanes, boats and cars. Companies like Heathkit and Radio Shack encouraged building real electronic devices that worked, like transistor radios and TVs. Model kits helped us understand a complicated world but one where you could still take something apart – to learn how it works – or to fix it.
Christmas represented a once-a-year chance to earn some real cash for a pre-teen with a newspaper route. It instilled in me a love of being an entrepreneur and learning customer service and how to interact with adults. You would be extra careful each year at this time to deliver your papers on time and at the doorstep. Of course, you would sneak a Christmas card into the newspaper a couple weeks before to butter up your clients. In those days, you went door-to-door each month collecting, hopefully receiving a special season tip or gift from many of your customers. This bonus money would help fund our ongoing interests in trains, stamps, trading cards, coins and sports equipment.
As I got a bit older, I added to my resume selling Christmas trees. Our Stewart’s Root Beer drive-in, a couple blocks away, sold trees during the holiday and I quickly learned that there were big tips to be had for a kid with a little hustle.
Decking the Halls
A string of lights, a big illuminated Santa face on the front door and plastic statues of carolers decorated the outside of our house at 626 East 2nd Ave. The Christmas tree took up a third of the living room with its soft glowing screw-in light bulbs, shining glass ornaments and silver tinsel or garland. Of course, there was the nativity scene with plaster-cast characters of wisemen, shepherds and the holy family, which always seemed to need some glue repair from the previous year’s wear.
Holiday Music in the Air
At least as important as the tree was the Sylvania TV to see the holiday specials and the sounds of our our Zenith stereo set with its radio, record player with odd-looking cone speakers.
These were the early days of 33 1⁄3 rpm LP vinyl record albums. Ordinary people obsessed over “stereo” and “high fidelity” and improving sound quality with the right “diamond” needle that played in the record grooves. We bought our “stereo” at a local radio/TV store to provide the best holiday music. And, in our family it was watching Christmas specials or playing albums of Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Mitch Miller, and of course, Lawrence Welk.
My father, an amateur harmonica player (learned in the Army), believed in the beauty of music and wouldn’t mind singing along if the occasion called for it. The popular musical instrument to learn at the time, especially if you were Polish, was the accordian.
One year the family broke down and bought a Yamaha organ which my youngest sister Carolyn (11 years younger than me) took lessons. My other sisters, Christine and Barbara and even Mom and Dad took some free lessons but did not get far. John and I were not motivated enough to learn any instrument. In time, the musical fad faded and I think we passed the organ to an aspiring neighbor, which probably became a tradition. I’m still wondering how it fit in that small living room.
Christmas Mass was always a center of time during the holiday. I remember in grade school being in the special Christmas choir dressed in a red cassock, starched collar and a big bow. Our parish, St. Joseph’s, took this seriously. It was probably a Latin mass at that time. Also, an altar boy, you had to know the Latin responses during the Mass, but we had no idea what they translated to. We typically went to either the special Christmas Eve mass with the singing or midnight Mass which was “Standing Room Only”.
A Polish Christmas Eve
Since my Mom (Stella) and Dad (John, Sr.) had very ethnic and religious childhoods growing up in Jersey City, there was a strong desire to carry on some of the sacred Polish traditions at Christmas. My Dad was the youngest of 9 children. My Mom was an only child. Dad’s closest siblings were aunt (Polish: “Cioci”) Frances and aunt Josephine who lived next door to us in Roselle.
His oldest brother, Father Al, a well-respected priest and pastor at St. Casmir’s and Sacred Heart in Newark, his cousin Joe and his sister Mary “May” Slawinski with her family might visit and we usually made the long journey out to Jersey City to visit them after Christmas.
As kids, holiday old country traditions were almost dreaded. It was hard to be on your best behavior with the company of strange food, a strange language being spoken and relatives that seemed to come from a different world. Jersey City was rough, noisy and crowded. We wondered why everyone lived there in small apartments when they could move out to the suburbs. Little did I know then that my son Justin and daughter Alison would gladly choose to settle there once they started their careers.
My uncle Stan (Slawinski, Sr., husband of May) was a jolly old, stout guy. He set a light hearted-tone for their family and our gatherings. He had a distinctive mustache, much like Charlie Chaplin. I do remember vaguely (spoiler alert) that he showed up at our place on at least one Christmas Eve dressed perfectly as the real Santa Claus. Can you imagine that!
For our family there was probably no tradition more memorable than the Christmas Eve celebration otherwise known as Wigilia. With aunts Frances and Josephine next door in Roselle, we ate this sacred meal either at home or at their place. Cousin Joe or Father Al might drop by. This is a time where it is traditional to get together and invite others for a polish meal with 12 meatless dishes (12 signifying the 12 apostles). It’s also a tradition to set an extra empty plate for anyone who might drop by representing a true Christmas spirit.
But the first thing that night was to say a family prayer and share opłatek, the Christmas communion wafer. The custom is to take a larger piece and allow each person to break off a piece of yours and eat it, while you do the same to theirs. This commemorates the Last Supper and is a nice social way to wish everyone individually a Merry Christmas.
The meal began late because, as I learned recently, it was customary to start when “the first star can be seen” commemorating the Star of Bethlehem. The two most prominent dishes were a beet borscht soup and fish. Mushroom dishes (Poles are big on mushrooms) were many and varied. First, was the deep red beet soup served with potato dumplings then fried fish, then a mushroom dish. Pickled herring was also an option as it was seen as a sign of good luck for the new year.
Needless to say once the borscht and fish came out, all the kids would bolt away from the table or eat little, until better choices arrived like pierogis and/or potato pancakes (placki). Our favorite polish foods like kielbasa or gołąbki, stuffed cabbage, could not be served, at least not today. We were fasting from meat. Somewhere between dishes we were probably singing or at least listening to Polish and English Christmas songs.
My fondest food memory of the season was probably the buttery kolaczki cookies for dessert made by my Aunt Frances with raspberry, apricot, poppy and prune filling. With 12 dishes to get through, conversation and some drinking it was a sit-down party lasted late into the night as we were sent to bed with beautiful visions of Santa on his sleigh and nightmares of borscht and fish in our heads.
Tradition Continues at Christmas
Old rituals that have stayed the same or maybe improved over time are especially significant to me as I get older. As kids, I’d like to think we behaved a little bit better during the season and learned the valuable lessons of giving and receiving . All this we experienced through the same legends of a jolly old man and a baby being born and through the lens of our own family customs. Tradition helps make the magic.
We might not have understood these mysteries, but we instinctively respected the forces around us and solemnness of the season. Christmastime is still the best of times which we continue to cherish and hope to pass on to other generations.
There are not many moments in life where you find yourself witnessing and participating in a significant historical event. You know it even then because there has never been anything like it before. You are gobsmacked with what you see, hear and feel. And, to top it off, all this happens accidentally by a fortunate set of circumstances.
It was on August 15, 1965 that the Beatles were scheduled to play Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York. My sisters Chris and Barbara and their friend Gail were rabid Beatle fans and they made sure they had their tickets as well as their white go-go boots ready. These were the days when large concerts were rare. This one would be their second tour of the U.S. but the first-ever “stadium concert” and the largest concert crowd (55,600) at any concert at that time.
Strangers in a Strange Land
Shea was completed only a year before and as the latest project promoted by Robert Moses, the famed New York City planner, to develop the Queens area. It was located in Flushing Meadows next to the grounds of the World’s Fair of 1964-65 in Corona Park.
Most of us had visited the World’s Fair the year before and marveled at exhibitions. It was a fascinating look at the future and and offered a taste of other countries. I still remember the Lowenbräu beer pavilion where we could drink beer freely, just like being in Bavaria, even though we were underaged and about as naive as we could be about the rest of the world. It seemed like we were moving into the future and becoming part of a bigger world.
Accepting the Mission
In the original plan, my dad was supposed to drive my sisters to and from Shea since they were young teens not old enough to drive. Well, it turned out my buddy Mike Hayser and I were hanging around my house that hazy 80-degree Sunday with nothing particular to do so we volunteered to take them instead. Why my father allowed us to drive I’ll never know but probably the long ride and the need to wait for them were factors. And, it was, after all, the 1960’s and there was a certain freedom and permission that’s hard to reconcile with today’s helicopter parenting.
We didn’t even think about how crazy this could be with thousands of screaming fans. But we sensed that there would be lots of girls and a great adventure awaiting. Little did we know we would be driving directly into history.
At 17 years old I considered my six months of experience enough to tackle the big-game driving in New York City’s traffic and its strange mysterious boroughs. Shea was then a big new and bold stadium. It was built to last for the New York Mets franchise, which started only a few years before. Both the stadium and the team represented new hope for us bitter and abandoned ex-Brooklyn Dodger fans.
The Way to Shea
This was my longest and most challenging drive with my hand-painted blue 56’ Chevy. Living in Roselle, the best way to get to Shea was to take the Goethals Bridge from Elizabeth to Staten Island and drive across the new and mammoth Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (which was another Robert Moses project.). The bridge had just opened in January 1964 and was an instant success allowing traffic to Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island via the Belt and Grand Central Parkways. To us on the Jersey side, these were legendary roads where we were warned daily of horrendous traffic conditions on the radio and assumed only brave and crazy drivers dare go. So, why not try?
The only way to get somewhere far away in those days was to rely on old-fashioned, artfully folded paper maps. Every car had dozens of maps in the glove compartment which were free to grab at any gas station. We relied on maps, intuition and signs (if they were still there) to find where we were going. So, we grabbed a map of New York and headed out like modern explorers to find Shea Stadium and experience the wild urban frontier.
Going with the Flow
As we approached Shea the traffic became heavy and led to a stop. A tremendous crowd was moving toward the stadium so we decided to find a parking spot along the road and walk to the stadium, even though our mission was to deliver my sisters and kill some time exploring the area – later to pick them up somehow. My sisters found the gates where ticket holders entered moving rapidly. Mike and I realized at this point that the action was inside the stadium and our best move would be to try and get in.
We studied the situation and realized that this was a sellout and there no tickets (Box seats cost $5.65 apiece!) to be bought and the security staff seemed only half-interested in checking tickets. So, we approached a guard to tell the story of our good deed of taking my sisters to the concert; only to be left outside waiting. Let’s just say on that day everyone was in a good mood. They turned away as we freely walked into the most important concert of our lives, without a ticket.
The Beatles had only broken into the U.S. market a couple years ago but by now they were known worldwide having created over a half-dozen albums and two films. This was the beginning of their North America tour having just released their album and film “Help!” less than two weeks ago and had appeared on the Ed Sullivan show the night before.
Pop concerts were not that common and were not believed to be big revenue generators. All that changed at Shea. The concert at Shea Stadium set a world record for attendance and gross revenue. The Beatles got $160,000 of the $304,000 box office sales and proved that there was money and other benefits in staging large concerts.
Lead off acts included Brenda Holloway, King Curtis, Sounds Incorporated, Killer Joe Piro and The Discothèque Dancers, The Young Rascals and Cannibal & the Headhunters. Hosts included Murray the K and Cousin Brucie Morrow. Television host Ed Sullivan introduced the band when they took the stage: “Now, ladies and gentlemen, honored by their country, decorated by their Queen, and loved here in America, here are The Beatles!”
The concert was ahead of the audio technology at the time and could not properly project the music in the massive stadium. Powerful stage amplifiers couldn’t play louder than the screaming crowd. Even the stadium’s P.A. system, normally used by baseball announcers, was also employed to help project the band’s sound. But, the roar of the crowd could be heard throughout their appearance.
Once the Beatles started playing, it didn’t matter where your tickets were or if you had one. Everyone spilled into the lower levels and stood for the entire concert in awe of the band and the crowd of frenzied fans. They continued to play 12 songs lasting about an hour. We had traveled two hours, witnessed the largest crowd we had ever seen, managed to crash the gate and listen to some great music. But, nothing compared to the electric reaction of this huge crowd. Girls were out of control and screaming everywhere. I remember getting goosebumps by just witnessing the joy and excitement that was beyond our imagination. It was obvious that Beatles were having as great a time as their audience.
After the concert fans stormed the field and we made our way out. I’m still not sure how we found my sisters in that crowd of over 55,000. I don’t remember a thing about the ride home but I’m sure we basked in the good vibes of the event knowing that we were there for a very special event with memories that will last a lifetime.
The Concert at Shea in the Beatles’ Words…
“I think we just went a bit hysterical that night; we couldn’t believe where we were and what was going on, we couldn’t hear a bloody thing and we thought ‘This isn’t very good, but it’s going down great.’ The hysteria started to kick in. That was a great one.”
Paul McCartney, Back To The World tour book
“Once you know you’ve filled a place that size, it’s magic; just walls of people. Half the fun was being involved in this gigantic event ourselves.”
Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible
“What I remember most about the concert was that we were so far away from the audience. . . And screaming had become the thing to do. . . Everybody screamed. If you look at the footage, you can see how we reacted to the place. It was very big and very strange.”
Ringo Starr, The Beatles Anthology
“At Shea Stadium, I saw the top of the mountain.”
John Lennon, recalling the show in 1970 in a TV interview
It’s interesting to note that at the time of the concert the Watts Los Angeles riots were taking place with the black community angry about the police brutality and civil rights. Meanwhile, President Johnson signed the Voting Act of 1965 that very afternoon establishing new laws that were meant to provide free and fair elections forever.
The mighty Shea was demolished forty seven years later replaced by Citi Field, but the same roads and bridges remain. The Beatles were only in their 20s and at the height of their careers in 1965 but played their last concert together in 1970, just five years later. That last concert and the Beatles legend is still being explored with the release of the new Peter Jackson/Disney+ retrospective on the Beatles last project together, the making of “Get Back.”
History, it seems, is never written in stone and just takes time to understand and appreciate.
The Beatles at Shea Stadium Video
The following video was purchased years ago online and represents a rough cut of the original special recording which appeared on British and American TV as a special. It is approximately 52 minutes long.
Living through a year of self-inflicted quarantine has been tough. Then, I remembered we had it rough before and made it thru.
This post is a story I wrote for my Storyworth project. It represents an installment of a personal compilation of stories I hope to complete this year. While the Covid pandemic has delayed long bike trips, I guess I have no excuse to stop writing.
How quickly we forget.
Its been a year living through the Covid-19 pandemic. Our lives have been altered to avoid contracting the disease and to protect others from its spread. Basically, we have led a life that was 90% isolated except for a few selected safe relationships and occasional adventurous activities outside of our homes. Someday soon I hope we can look back on this with some nostalgia. But, not right now.
Ironically, I just came across a note I wrote in 2012 during the last crisis we faced. I’m not even sure why I wrote the note or if I ever published it or showed it to anyone, but it struck me as oddly meaningful today.
At that time, thank God, we did not have our Ortley Beach home when Hurricane Sandy hit. Still, after our Morristown home power lines went out and we tried living in a cold, dark house for days we decided to seek shelter. Ours was by no means the worse thing that happened at that time so we steeled ourselves and made the best of it.
Mary Ann’s mom Caroline, in her mid 80’s at the time and who has since passed, was living alone and independently in her home in Lake Parsippany. She welcomed company and we needed a lifeline.
As I remember it, it was a great relief to be in a warm home where mom appreciated the company and we sure appreciated the roof over our heads. This would do until the chaos passed and we could return to normal. It was not a perfect situation but we were all in this together.
Here’s the note I wrote around mid November 2012 as our power was about to be restored after 12 days or so in my mother-in-law’s home:
It made me think that in any catastrophe there are those that suffer much worse than I. Also, overcoming the challenge can lead to good outcomes. Who knew that someday we would all look back on those days when being together in any form would be better than being alone?
My career in the news business was on a roll until I outgrew it. But there were valuable life lessons and skills learned. Where have all the paperboys gone?
This post is a story I wrote for my Storyworth project. It represents an installment of a personal compilation of stories I hope to complete this year. While the Covid pandemic has delayed long bike trips, I guess I have no excuse to stop writing.
Sometime around 1960 I began my career in business. I was gladly working as a 12-year old paperboy (carrier) for the Newark Star-Ledger. This was my first job and real-life classroom on how to make money and work for a boss. My boss, the local circulation manager, was Mr. Danz, who was like a coach for a team of child laborers. Along with baby-sitting, acting and family farming, having a paper route has been one of a very few regular jobs that the Federal Government exempts from the child labor laws.
This was the heyday of print journalism. All families relied on the newspaper as the single most informative and trustworthy source of information. Television and radio, of course, were also important. But, newspapers delivered a long, dependable and regular flow of detailed national, regional and local news that you could choose to read when you wanted. Newspaper outlets were like nodes on the information network of the day. It seemed like delivering the news on my bike was a pretty important job as well as profitable and fun.
Back then, most families would either buy the paper at a local corner store or subscribe to “home delivery”. In the 1950’s and 1960’s it seemed pre-teen and early teenage boys would deliver most newspapers including morning and afternoon papers. Newspapers advertised for “carriers” as a way to earn some money and be independent. Parents agreed and encouraged their kids to take on a paper route.
A paper route taught a young kid lessons in responsibility, accounting, customer service, sales and marketing. Best of all, most of time you were independent and on your own as long as you lived up to the responsibilities .
Learning Customer Service
Every day a bundle of 50 Star-Ledger newspapers were dropped at the curb in front of my house in the middle of the night or very early morning, with a thud. With newspapers to deliver in the morning before school, I would get up early at 6:00 a.m., break open the bundle and start folding or rubber banding each newspaper. There was an art to a simple fold when the weather was good and the paper was of a reasonable size. There was a feel and smell to the damp news that was evident by the newsprint left on your hands.
If the weather was bad, we wrapped the paper in wax paper (the use of plastics bags came years later). For Sunday, early sections had to be assembled with the latest news that arrived early Sunday morning. Sunday papers were usually an inch or more thick so they required special attention and more delivery time.
Developing Job Skills
The key to a successful paperboy route was preparation and developing a good toss. Because newspapers were so popular your route would usually be in your neighborhood or close by with maybe 33%-50% of the houses as your customers. It was my responsibility to get up early enough to deliver the newspaper before everyone was out the door. Come rain or come shine. No one wanted a late newspaper, one that landed too far away from the front door, or one that was wet. Failure to deliver under these standards could affect tips or worse yet – a complaint to the my boss, the circulation manager.
The “toss” was a zen-like skill that could be honed to perfection. It required executing the principles of balance, aerodynamics, centrifugal force, wind adjustments and deadly aim. While riding and steering the bike with one hand, you would grab a single newspaper and perform a toss across your body, thus causing a backhand spin so that the paper would float to the stairs near the front door. If done properly it was a thing of beauty and a gratifying experience.
Driving the Delivery Vehicle
Most of the time my black Columbia cruiser bike with fenders and a big basket was all I needed. As soon as all papers were bound or folded I’d load up the bike and head out to work.
Bad or cold weather could be an obstacle and often would require my father to drive me around in the two-tone 55’ Ford before he went to work.
You had to get to know your customers and often their particular service requests, like where to deliver the paper and which customer got the paper on certain days, like weekdays or Sundays.
Collecting for the Boss
Near the end of the week was collection day. I’m pretty sure I collected every every couple weeks or maybe monthly. But it was by personal visit to each customer. I would carry around a large ring binder with one card for each customer. I would punch a hole for the weeks paid by that customer as I collected the cash.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr Danz would come by to pick up the payments I collected along with discussing problem customers, any complaints that might have come to him and any new contests I could win for getting new subscribers to sign up.
I was paid only on the number of customers I had and collected. Hey, looking back at this now, it seems like a whole lot like a junior bookie operation – working for the Star-Ledger gang. I remember Mr. Danz as being a nice guy but there was a certain amount of intimidation as a kid answering to an adult of authority.
In the newspaper delivery business, it was customary to give tips but papers were not expensive. As I remember it, we earned about $20 to $30 per week between a fee per paper delivered and tips. You would lay out your customer cards and count you money less your tips in front of Mr. Danz and officially get paid. It was enough to be proud and make a small profit after considering expenses. You also learned that no one delivering newspapers was going to make a fortune. But you did learn some business skills, a few life lessons and a way to buy a few things on your own or learn how to save money.
Witnessing the Extinction
There has been cultural changes over the years. What used to be an admirable job for young kid began to be seen as potentially dangerous. Children’s freedom became even more restricted. Perhaps, more was given to them rather than requiring them to earn it. In any case, it would be rare to see a child delivering newspapers these days. Selling cookies or popcorn is the extent of our early real-life work experiences that we permit today.
But, beyond the cultural change the Internet has been the major disrupter of paper-based news. Today most news publishing companies rely on subscription service websites and online advertising. The change in the public’s choice of media has caused print ad spending to move to online advertising and news resources given to online stories. Meanwhile, the world of home delivery has changed too. We are consuming less print media and have less of a need for an actual newspaper to be delivered.
The Star Ledger in 1960 cost just $.10 per daily and $.25 per Sunday edition at the newsstand – and that did not change until 1980! In 1960 the typical delivery customer was paying something like $1 to $2 per week. Today, the newsstand cost is $3.00 per daily and $5.00 per Sunday with much less content. The paper is now owned by Advance Local Media LLC which promotes NJ.com as its digital partner preferring to promote a paper and virtual “home delivery” subscription of around $500 per year.
That’s a lot of money for the news to be delivered to you. If you chose to receive a physical newspaper, chances are it would be delivered by a man, or woman, throwing a paper out a car window randomly in the wee hours and whom you would never expect to meet. While there are plenty of reasons, including environmental ones, that make the old model unworkable today, there are also plenty of reasons that we should have thought more about what we lost in automating our news.
Today’s mishmash of online neighborhoods and social networks fracture the delivery of local and regional news. We now have to find where the news is and choose only the news we want. And, our sources are no longer unbiased or represent a higher ideal of truth. Are we getting more information delivered to us or are we less informed than we were 60 years ago?
And so it goes…
My career in the news business lasted a few years but helped me build an interest in business and an entrepreneurial spirit which lasts until today. Today, it seems the only news job a young adult can participate in is creating content for YouTube. That may seem strange but it’s where the eyeballs, fun and excitement are these days. As we move beyond the printing press, let us remember those heady days when newspapers were the boss!
“Were it left to me to decide if we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”