Betsy’s Corner: So long and farewell …

It’s sad to lose a local paper after 50 years. Both The Enfield Press (with roots back to 1880) and our town paper are now history. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and relive some special moments. We have come a long way in half a century.

The first man had walked on the Moon a month before. It was the week of The Woodstock Music Festival. On Wednesday, Aug. 20, 1969, the first issue of The Longmeadow News hit the stores. The cost was a reasonable 15 cents and the paper was full of advertising. Early stories featured a section called Nature Walk and articles concerning local volunteers and a soldier returning from Vietnam. There is no mention of the huge music festival. Meals-on-Wheels were provided by The Friendly Steak and Sundae Shop on Longmeadow Street near St. Mary’s Church. Kimmel’s and Brightwood Hardware were buying ad space along with businesses in Enfield, Ct. and the city of Springfield. I learned that our town did not have a local post office in 1969, but wanted one.

An editorial concerning dress codes at the High School reminds us how times have changed. Detailed rules for each gender are considered comical now. The girls could not wear pants and the boys could not wear blue dungarees. Someone was actually expelled from LHS for long hair, and it was not a female.

Why has our hometown paper closed operations? I blame the Internet. Younger folks don’t have time to stop by CVS or a gas station to buy an issue for 50 cents. Feature stories were available online either on the Longmeadow News Facebook page or on other news feeds.

Where will we get the news on local crimes and misdemeanors? The Police and Fire Logs will possibly be moved to another site, I hope. Will the town website or alternative website change to accommodate important information? Where will we see the recent list of scholars on the Honor Roll or what the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are doing to help others? Where will the local library and Senior Center list activities? The weekly calendar was extremely helpful for those of us who subscribed and looked forward to the delivery of the paper every Thursday. All I have now are questions with no answers. I just feel sad – like an old friend will be gone.

If you have the time, I recommend a visit to The Storrs Library to read about the good ‘ole days. Original issues of the paper from 1969 to recent issues are bound together by year. All you need to do is ask at the Reference Desk and they will retrieve a volume for you.

It has been a wonderful 20 years as a columnist at this paper. It was a great way for me to express my thoughts and meet people. The articles provided a platform for issues to be discussed and analyzed. From articles about historic preservation, parkland to town meetings, from school expansion and construction to traffic problems – I enjoyed interviewing interesting local personalities. We will all fondly remember the feeling of reading The Longmeadow News as we sipped a cup of coffee and learned what was going on around here. I wonder what will come next? There is a need for improved communication in this community and the loss of the printed word will not help us in the predicament we are in. Everyone seems cut off from each other in the winter months, and then spring and summer we get so busy with outdoor life like school events, sports, gardening and traveling. I pray that we will all reach out to each other and find ways to share information. In Colonial times there was a town crier, but now there is the grapevine. We can no longer say “I read it in The Longmeadow News.” Thanks to the editors, graphic designers and staff. I have met some wonderful people along the way.

Upcoming Dates to Remember in 2020:

March 31: Park & Rec Forum on Open Space at the high school, 7 p.m.

April 4: Spring Clean Up at Laurel Park, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

April 13: Conway School begins Master Plan for Laurel and Bliss Parks.

May 12: Town Meeting, 7 p.m. at the high school.

May 22 to 24: Long Meddowe Days Weekend on the Town Green.

June 16: Town Election, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The views expressed in Betsy’s Corner are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reminder Publishing, its editorial management, staff or advertisers.