The paper was late today. I noticed right away it wasn’t in the driveway when I got home. I walked in the front door and the phone was ringing. It was a neighbor who asked anxiously, “Did you get your Trib?” “No.” I answered with some dread in my voice. “Maybe the delivery guy just said to hell with it - you think he’d do that?”
I’ve been in sort-of denial about the demise of the Albuquerque Tribune since hearing that the paper was a goner. I haven’t thrown out one paper since. They’re really stacking up. But somehow I put it all in the back of my mind until yesterday’s headline. And the late paper today.
The neighbor and I talked about other things for awhile – road rage, an eagle she spotted today, the rain and wind storm last night. Then she said, “There it is!” and we hung up without saying goodbye to run outside and get the paper.
It was carefully folded inside a plastic bag protecting it from a light rain. I picked it up, removed the plastic, and unfolded it to see the photo of a flamenco dancer with Tribune reporter, Howard Bryan. In the photo, he is at a typewriter in the newsroom – cigarette in hand, old black telephone by his side. I read the caption as I walked back to the house, feeling a lump growing in my throat.
I remember looking forward to the Albuquerque Tribune everyday over twenty-three years ago. I was in love with a boy who was in love with the Trib - puzzles, to be precise. We would jealously nab the first afternoon edition and ceremoniously divide it up to read sneaky-like at our work desks - a guilty pleasure before internet surfing. He’d read lead stories aloud and I’d read horoscopes back. Then we’d switched so he could do the puzzles - fast as a genius – hiding it in his desk when the boss came around. But I would always get caught reading the paper at work - usually ranting about some story or editorial.
This afternoon, I flattened the paper in place on the counter where each day’s headlines are scanned. I noticed the smaller old-style banner - The Albuquerque Tribune. Volume 86, Number 196. Published Daily Except Sunday. Evening Edition. 20 Pages in Two Sections. Below the fold: “A Tradition of Character.” Then it hit me all at once and I started crying. It was a good long jag that upset the dogs and could probably be heard outside.
I wept for the death of that old friend who did the puzzles and read the top stories aloud. I wept for the death of this old friend - a kindred spirit evening edition daily except Sunday, price: 50 cents.
Except after Saturday.
There are so many losses and so many changes – so many, that you need a good newspaper to remember them all.
I promise I’ll remember the Albuquerque Tribune.