Lessons from My Mailbox

2-25-17

by Ed Chasteen

We are seldom aware of air pressure or gravity. Globalization is like that. All three are at work this morning at my mailbox. Air pressure tells me the proper pull to open my box, gravity holds my mail to the floor of my box. Globalization lies within.

The Liberty Tribune was spreading local news even before I moved into this house more than 50 years ago, and for the past several has come every Thursday in my mailbox. It’s two days late this week. I’ve just returned from a Saturday morning bike ride and stopped by the mailbox in front of my house. The paper is folded around several letters and a sale flyer. When I get inside and spread the paper on the kitchen table, I see evidence of globalization spread across the front page.

In Kearney, Smithville and Liberty I’ve come many times over many years to their small town cafes. Then back home at my computer I have typed out little stories about these rides and emailed them to the local papers in each place: Kearney Courier, Smithvile Herald and Liberty Tribune.

Now comes the news that the three have become one. It is not the Liberty Tribune I see on the table. In big block black letters in the upper left corner of the front page: CT. Then with a story across the upper half come words that explain how the three have all bled into one, that one now called Courier Tribune.

It had to come. This inevitable lowering of boundaries as the world turns, talks, trades and tasks. But its unexpected arrival on my kitchen table on a slow news day takes my breath away and drives me to my bed for a rare mid-day nap.

Some of the magazines I used to read have quit publishing. The Kansas City Times disappeared long ago; the Star has slimmed, cut staff and raised prices The end is coming.

There was a time before any of these. There will be a time after. Living through the transition is not easy. More boundaries will fall. And bring pain. The pain of new birth.

When I was 10 and had a bicycle, I got my first job. With a cloth bag stretched over my handlebars, I delivered rolled up copies tied with string of the Cleburne Times Review to homes on my route. My mother and dad and us three children moved to another town soon after. The Huntsville Item became our town paper. Since grad school at MU, Liberty has been my home and the Liberty Tribune my paper. Across time and space, my hometown paper has tied me to my roots and kept alive in my heart and mind loved ones I no longer see in person.

From my church and my college I have developed a longing for the Human Family Reunion, a gathering where folks of all colors, creeds and cultures are welcome and who’s right is the wrong question. Our sole/soul agenda is to learn to like one another. When this has been done, we can talk about right and wrong with at least the hope of understanding.

In longing to live in an open world, I did not think of the loss I would feel when little things went away, things like my hometown paper. When “Newspapers merge under consolidated banner” as the front page headline in the paper now open on my table explains, I feel lost. My town. Our town. Where did it go? What is it now? I’m still here. But here has changed. My mind is glad. My heart hurts.

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