I really thought I was officially cried out.
It was the day after being told I was one of 53 members of the editorial staff no longer employed by the Tribune. I had decided I would stop feeling sorry for myself, that I had much for which to be thankful and more importantly, that my head was going to explode if I continued.
And then I got my brother’s e-mail.
I cancelled my Trib subscription today. Just thought you'd like to know that. Had it for 30-plus years
My reaction surprised me. Why was I so emotional about it? This was the company -- whether motivated by financial reasons or not – that had told me what I had poured my heart into for 23 years, was no longer of value to them.
But I could not imagine my brother actually giving it up.
I don’t remember anything before the Daily News, Sun-Times and Trib, but we had them all in our house and thought nothing of it. You may as well pack up and move to Russia if you didn’t get a newspaper in the morning, and all of my friend’s fathers picked up the Daily News on their way home from work or had it delivered in the evening.
My father’s routine was sacred. Kisses for all when he came home and then you left him to his newspaper. The Daily News for the late markets, often accompanied by a shot of scotch and water. The Nightly News with Huntley and Brinkley in the background.
If we called him to dinner during a “very important” news story, there was much waving and shushing that this was “very important.” He would finish the paper after dinner.
During my childhood, we were a Sun-Times family during the week and on Sunday, or more accurately Saturday night, we also got the Tribune. For this, the ritual was as drummed into me as any family tradition there was. For this, our mother ruled.
My dad would present her with the Sunday Trib on Saturday night – I’m not sure if they realized it or not, that they were not getting Saturday’s news – and the procedure would begin. My mom would carefully, almost surgically dissect the newspaper, pulling out the comics, Sports, the magazines, Tempo, a few selected advertising sections perhaps, and the A-section as I would later know the front section to be called.
She would put the rest, the rejects, which seemed to be ads and nothing else, on the table in the upstairs hallway. We were allowed to go through that. We were NOT allowed – until Sunday when she was finished – to TOUCH the rest of the paper.
When the Sun-Times came on Sunday, the same routine occurred as I would wait patiently for some time after noon when I would gently ask which section I could have.
I can remember the smell of the ink and its touch, which ironically considering my later choice of profession, gave me the same kind of chills most get from scratching a chalkboard. I hated the feeling of the ink on my fingers, so I would carefully hold just the edges.
And then, after every other one of the six members of our family were through picking, I would lose myself inside the wondrous prose of Mike Royko and David Israel, John Schulian and Ray Sons. I would read Kup, though I didn’t know who or what he was talking about, and of course, Ann Landers. We saved Royko for last, savored it. I did it because I knew my parents did it, his column evoking conversation and laughter and debate.
Back then, most people called the comics, the funnies. In our house, we called that section “the jokes” because that’s what our parents called it, and thought nothing of it until we got to college and an accidental mention of “the jokes” was met with instant ridicule.
Same with bubble eggs, but we won’t get in that now.
The paper, piled neatly next to my mother’s side of the bed, sprawled before all of us at the kitchen table, lying on and around my father’s black “leather” chair and ottoman in the den, were as much a part of our house as any of the furniture, as much a part of our family life as dinner at 6.
And so I cried last when I opened my brother’s e-mail last week. Again, which was particularly annoying since I thought my two-day headache was fading and because I didn’t know if I was crying because I was so touched by my big brother’s loyalty or because it felt like another death in the family.
He will, of course, get his news from other sources, just one of so many others who have moved away from the Trib because they no longer recognize it; who have moved away from the newspaper, hastening its demise along with decreased advertising and the increased price of newsprint.
He will eventually adjust to life without it and I guess, now, so will we.
Today, my husband turned to me as he gathered a few days of old Tribs and Sun-Times to toss them into the recycling bin, and said gently, “I was a little afraid to tell you, but I cancelled our Tribune subscription today. This is our last one.”
Clearly, there would be no discussion.
I wanted to cry again, to feel something, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.
I really was all cried out.