I found my thrill with my first time in print | PostIndependent.com

I found my thrill with my first time in print

April in Glenwood
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April E. Clark

The date was Nov. 22, 1978. I wore a black-and-white pilgrim’s hat made of paper.

On my left was my first crush ” a red-haired, freckle-faced boy named Kenny. Barely out of kindergarten, I was all dressed up for Thanksgiving with nowhere to go.

Except in the newspaper.

The image remains in my memory like one of those 30-year-old slides suspended in time in a reel in my parents’ old projector. The memory is immortalized in a small community newspaper clip, neatly cut and secured in a photo album on my parents’ family room bookshelf.

My first time in the paper.

I found my thrill.

Not quite like Fats Domino on Blueberry Hill. That would come much later.

Maybe I was destined to become a newshound. My family was always reading the paper. My mom still likes to cut out interesting articles and send them to me. Sunday was our biggest news day. My dad would bring in the paper so fat it barely fit in the metal mailbox that moonlighted as a target for baseball bats.

Teenagers can get really bored in the country.

Once it landed with a thud on the table we would grab at the Indianapolis Star, pulling out the sections we liked the best. I always went for the comics first, seeking my Garfield fix.

That crazy cat and his lasagna. Gets me every time.

My second big newspaper break came when I was a fifth-grader. I landed on the front page of the city’s big one, the Indianapolis Star. I was a student alongside another male classmate naming states and capitals on a map painted on the blacktop schoolyard. I can’t remember exactly how the photographer got his shot, but I’m pretty sure it involved either a ladder or a cherry picker. It’s taken from above, as if a robin was eyeing us midflight. I’m wearing a pair of maroon corduroy knickers, standing with my knee socks pressed firmly together in the middle of Kansas and pointing downward.

One state over and that would’ve been a photographic premonition.

I’m lucky enough to have a press sheet of that one. My mom had a friend whose son worked in the Star pressroom. She later had it framed for me as a present when I became a professional journalist. My best friend once told me that was one of the sweetest gifts a parent could give.

The thrill’s still there.

I was hooked on the news as early as a morning edition. I was such a news dork that as a kid I had a video game where the mission was to find out the who, what, when, where, why and how of a story. No joke. I’m as serious as a shoe being chucked at a leader of the free world.

I’m not sure which one is scarier.

This news fetish is all because I love stories. Reading them. Writing them. I can’t pass by a paper without checking out the headlines. The stories’ ledes, too. I love the smell of fresh ink from a stack of freshly printed newspapers. And I never tire of the temporary black film that covers my fingertips when I read through a paper.

That’s always fun when I have an itch on my face and I forget where I’ve been.

Newspapers are such a big part of me, I have a hard time imagining life without them. Like playing tennis without a net. A dance-off without the music. More like attempting to gaze at the stars on a cloudy night.

All total letdowns. Definitely no fun. And not very interesting.

Recently there’s been talk of the death of print. People are questioning if print products can survive the impact of the Internet on advertising. That’s one story for which no one can quite get the who, what, when, where, why and how.

Maybe finding out those answers is part of the thrill of a changing industry.

Just like playing that dorky video game back in the ’80s.

Life will never be like it was on Nov. 22, 1978. But hopefully we’ll always have a way to remember the moments that mean the most to us.

That could be a clip from a small community newspaper, neatly cut and secured in a photo album on a family room bookshelf.

Or a press sheet of the front page of a major metro, framed and hanging on a wall.

Even a pdf saved from the online version of the paper does the trick.

The thrill’s still there.

April E. Clark is back home again in Indiana reading her hometown newspaper, at which she was an intern. She can be reached at aclark@postindependent.com.

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