Some things never change. I was reading a 100-year-old paper from our archives and the editor was grousing about how everyone wants their events and businesses mentioned in the newspaper but apparently don’t think the editor needs to eat.

Newsprint doesn’t grow on trees any more than money does even though both start their journeys there. 

Businesses get hit up a lot for donations and charitable events and understandably think they should at least get a mention in the paper. The local papers get hit up a lot, too. In addition to subscriptions, ad space and cash, we’re also expected to donate space on behalf of the other contributing businesses. Preferably on the front page in headline type. 

Funny, we never see our name on their marquees, but such is life. 

The free publicity was getting so bad 100 years ago that the editor imagined an obituary populated with advertising. (There’s actually a name for that, and some newspapers and websites charge for it. It’s called native advertising. I don’t know why.)

Such an obit (largely stolen from the century-old paper) might read something like this:

Billy Doolittle, 34 years, 2 months, 3 days and 17 ticks old, son of the well-known, popular and reasonably priced car salesman Hiram Doolittle, had his hide fatally punctured Thursday while walking in front of Osborn’s large, affordable and well-stocked department store. He was shot in the chest with a .22 caliber slug probably purchased from Ray’s Armory, the most reliable name in sporting guns. The bullet pierced the sapsucker suit he’d bought the day before from the handsome and accommodating Henry Calvert of Calvert Clothiers located at the corner of Main and Central, open till 4 weekdays and 9 on Friday and Saturday. The same suit is on sale now through Monday.

Billy was just walking by Osborn’s store carrying a box of chocolates he’d just picked up from Chuck’s Confectionary (see their ad on the next page). 

As Billy fell to the ground, he nearly busted his new Never Squirt fountain pen from Stanley’s Stationery Store. The pen was protected only by the patented triple composite, felt-lined case furnished free with each new purchase at no extra charge. 

His body was removed to the spacious and updated funeral parlor recently renovated by our local undertaker Rex Digger. The attending pulpit-pounder was the Rev. Richard Dogooder. It was a somber funeral decorated by Betsy’s Florist. There were no dry eyes in the nicely appointed parlor and many of the gawkers in attendance were observed dabbing their eyes with Parisian handkerchiefs recently imported by Star Store, which opened last month across from Sal’s diner, where one can enjoy a nutritious buffet without securing a loan from the 41st National Bank despite their competitive rates.

The body was laid to rest in an impressive and impenetrable vault built by Maurice’s Memorials, which carries the largest selection of headstones east of the Mississippi. 

The seamstress Sally of Sally’s Sewing Emporium repaired the sapsucker to its original splendor. Billy never looked better except for maybe his wedding day when he swapped nuptials with the pretty daughter of Dr. Albert Jones, who first hung his shingle here 30 years ago. 

Well, you can see why we don’t include such details. The extra lines would cause us to go bankrupt twice as fast as we are already. I’ve always believed a good community newspaper should be about 10 percent watchdog and 90 percent community cheerleader. These days, most are struggling to be 10 percent solvent. 

© Copyright 2019 by David Porter, who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us and whose website is hosted by go.papa.com, a leading provider of internet domain names.