Tag Archives: newspaper

Time capsule in the news

In case you missed them, here are some headlines from Sunday’s Washington Post:

“Twining Criticism Stirs NATO Clash”
“Bulgaria Reds Shift Politburo”
“Nixon Committee to Organize in District”
“Gay Clothes Put Sparkle in Young Eyes”
“Cosmopolitan Tehran Lacks Middle East Table: Hardest place to find a Middle Eastern restaurant in”
“Electronic Gadgets Shrinking to Specks”
An op-ed piece on “Wall Street Money and Politics”
“The Federal Diary: Efficiency Rises in 3 Agencies”

Confused? I pulled these headlines from the Sunday paper that was printed on December 13, 1959, the day I was born. I still have the actual paper my father bought at the Hilton at 16th and K Streets after he dropped my mother off at Georgetown University Hospital. That’s how things were done back then. 

Fifty-one years later, that newspaper is all yellow and crackly around the edges, as am I. Still, I pull it out every year and marvel at how things have changed—and how they haven’t—since 1959.

Debbie Reynolds graced the cover of Parade, while Ann Sothern appeared on the cover of TV Week.

What is now the Style section was “For and About Women.”

One could buy a completely redecorated row house in Georgetown for $28,000 or rent a furnished luxury apartment at 2400 Pennsylvania Avenue for $160 a month. A house in Kensington, Md., where I live, went for $18,900.

District residents were enticed to do their shopping at Julius Garfinkel & Co., Woodward & Lothrop, Kann’s, Raleigh Haberdasher, Best & Co., Stein’s, G.C. Murphy Company and People’s Drug.

IBM took out a want ad for machine operators, offering complete training in Key Punch and Tab and Wiring. Another company advertised openings for “Ambitious Men (white).” Egads.

Before I put away this paper time capsule until next year, I thought you might enjoy a few images.


I’m betting many of you recall Washington in the 1950s. Does any of this stir a memory?


Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Marketing/Advertising/PR, News, Politics, Reading

Last words

Is anyone else a creature of habit when it comes to reading the newspaper?  I don’t mean that you read it but, rather, how you read it.

I’ve been reading The Washington Post every day for 27 years and still read it in print.  First the Business Section, then Metro, followed by the main section and, for dessert, Style.  On Tuesdays, the Health section comes first; Wednesdays it’s Food.  The Crossword page gets torn out, folded in quarters and filed chronologically in a bedside folder for later enjoyment. 

Recently, when honey they shrunk my paper, Business was folded into the main section.  And it just isn’t the same.

During my years as a corporate lobbyist, the Business section was everything.  All stories high tech and financial, where I focused, were to be devoured and responded to as part of a day’s work.  That’s why it still comes first–old habits die hard.  Mondays were especially fun in those days, when the announcements ran—and still do—about major players changing jobs around town.  It used to be that I knew about 75 percent of the movers and shakers whose names and job changes appeared in this feature.

These days, I recognize more names in the obituaries than I do in Washington Business.

I’m not  kidding.   At least once a week, I see a familiar name or face in the obits.

When I started reading the death section years ago, my parents (Mom lives out of town; Dad travels a lot) appreciated my letting them know when a family friend or neighbor had died.  More and more, my own contemporaries are making appearances in the back of the Metro section.

But even when they aren’t my acquaintances, I have come to really enjoy reading obituaries.  This might sound twisted, but I also enjoy attending funerals.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I grieve the losses of my loved ones as deeply as anyone.  But I appreciate the words that are written and spoken, and the music played, when they pass.

It is hard to sum up one’s life in mere words.  The fact is, the words that are chosen, and they way they are put together in final tribute, are an art.

To me, the most interesting obituaries typically include an unusual profession coupled with an odd or obscure hobby, musical talent or second language.  While the heading might read “Church Member,” we may learn that the deceased also made a mean pound cake or could whistle Bach’s Fugue in G Minor.

It’s hard, when reading the obits, not to wonder what will be written about oneself after passing.  It makes me approach my life a little more conscious of what might be said about me when I’m gone.

Chances are, when I go, I’ll leave my own write-up behind.


Filed under Family and Friends, Music, News, Reading

Beware of age

Yesterday’s disappointing news from the Gulf of Mexico has had me fixed on a particular word, one that seldom appears in good news. 

Not long after it seemed the cap on BP’s spewing oil well was going to hold and finally begin to contain the massive spill, something troublesome was discovered—seepage.

Seepage is never good.  It’s unintentional.  It’s messy.  It often means something is going somewhere it’s not supposed to.  If seepage is in your story, chances are, you’re in trouble.  Just when the higher-ups at BP were looking forward to exhaling, along came seepage.  The last thing the poor citizens and businesses along the Gulf Coast want to hear is seepage.

Yesterday, for whatever reason, the word leapt off its prominent spot on the front page and created little puddles in my brain.  But with every lame attempt to blot them up, more disturbing words ending in “age” came at me. 

“Age” is a common suffix, used, among other ways, to turn verbs into nouns, such as seepage.   It is also used to turn singular nouns into uncountable nouns, such as signage and plumage.  Signage and plumage are good things, and, if you were delivering news, you wouldn’t mind them in your story.  Acreage, coverage and cleavage are also nice things to have.

But all I thought about yesterday after reading about the seepage were all the other “age” words—most, oddly, beginning with “s”—that one would not want to have to use in his or her story, nor want to hear when receiving news.

Sewage isn’t something you want to hear about.  Steerage isn’t a desirable place.  If you are relying on your work or the product thereof, a stoppage is bad news, as is a shortage.  Don’t tell me about spillage, spoilage or soilage.  Slippage is unacceptable.  And absolutely no one wants to have to explain shrinkage.

Those are the “s” words.  Please don’t send me back to the beginning of the alphabet or we’ll have to talk about blockage, bondage, breakage and carnage.  So let’s not go there.

Before we move off yesterday’s front page story, let’s add “burbling” to the list of words that aren’t usually used in good news.

Note:   I first thought burbling was a portmanteau for bubble + gurgle, because isn’t that what the seepage is doing?  As it turns out, burble is also a scientific term.  It’s a turbulent eddy in fluid flow caused by roughness near the boundary surface or loss of energy in the laminar flowing fluid.  But then you all probably knew that.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Marketing/Advertising/PR, News