Opinion Column

Newspapers a time long ago

 Kent Walton

With the weather not enticing me to do much more than endure the current situation, I have found myself, as usual for this time of year, going through old boxes of saved treasures.


This time, I found an old local paper from August 1963. I didn’t catch its meaning until I realized Page 2 included a photo of my lovely bride and me. It was a photograph of us cutting the cake at our wedding reception. OMG, we looked so young! Actually, I was 23 and Judy was just a bit younger, but looking at that photo today, we looked like a couple of teenagers. 

When was the last time you saw photos along with a full report on a local wedding? If you aren’t famous or a dignitary, it just doesn’t happen anymore. The Advertiser, the name of our local paper, had no fewer than 11 wedding celebrations throughout the pages. Each wedding had its own photo, an attached story of the couple along with a full description of the event. Eleven weddings covering three small towns: Long Branch, Mimico and New Toronto, just west of Toronto. 

Society columns adorned the paper while the local politics were certainly upfront and well covered. I thought it was interesting that, other than the society columns, none of the news stories carried a byline. Every news story was well written and very detailed, but no credit was given to the reporter. The only name attached to the paper was the editor, whose telephone number was excluded. 

I was amazed how much coverage was given to the local scene. Sports, social activities, local crime and politics were extremely detailed. I have no idea of how many staff were reporters nor how many worked the pressroom for such a weekly production. 

Amazingly, there was no outside news. All articles were of local interest only. Nothing regional! Nothing imported to fill the spaces! If it wasn’t local, it wasn’t there.

Boy, how times have changed.

Beyond the content, I must say one of the most significant things I noticed when I picked up the paper was the immense size of the reading material. The width of the paper was 16.5 inches across and almost two feet in length. Today’s Enterprise-Bulletin is just under 11 inches across and 21.5 inches in length. For those who grew up with the metric system, I leave it to you to figure that out. The point being the paper was so big, you could use it for a blanket.

Of course, looking back, one can’t avoid comparing the prices advertised from groceries to appliances. Costs are always fun to contrast. Keep in mind; our wages have changed from those days, which should lessen our desire for the good old days.

Bad Boy! Yes, the same Bad Boy. He was advertising new gas ranges for $80, refrigerators for $134 and automatic washers for $197. Consumer’s Gas would rent you a gas water heater for $1.97 a month. I now pay $31.67 for the same privilege.

Bread was seven loaves for a dollar while turkeys were 37 cents a pound. Goodyear tires started at around $12 per, including installation. New compact cars were around the $2,400 mark. I remember I bought a brand-new Pontiac Laurentian for our honeymoon and it set me back around $3,331. That included $8 for a rear-view door mirror.

Enough of this reminiscing. This is why I never finish clearing out my basement. I keep running into such interesting material. Who is going to throw out such treasures?

I must take this paper up to show my bride. 

Escaping February grey days, Kent Walton can be reached at ebreflections@rogers.com. 

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