Weren’t newspaper clippings more fun than bookmarks? For one thing, bookmarks are hidden away in your browser where they proliferate like bunnies in April. Clippings were always limited in number, to the level of your interest. Or physical storage capacity. I once decided to organize all my bookmarks into “folders.” I’m still not finished and some websites don’t seem to fit any category. Still, the exercise is an eye-opening one. I’ve been on thousands of webpages, hundreds of which I want to remember. With newspaper clippings, there were a limited supply and they felt—let’s face it—real. These words and images were printed on tangible paper. Kept in a file (or in old movies, tacked to a bulletin board that inevitably contained clues), they were visible reminders of something that caught your attention.
I’ve seen movies made where research is being done on the internet. They involve people who know they have to go beyond the top page of a Google search. They may even go to the third page or further! Such thrills. Compare that to a scene where someone pulls open a desk drawer and finds a clipping. Isn’t there real drama there? No doubt the internet has made finding information easier. It has also proliferated it so that we no longer have time to read it all. I recall reading how Isaac Asimov read the entire encyclopedia when he grew up. Who could read all of Wikipedia? It changes every single day. The clipping file, depending on the papers and magazines to which you had access, might be pretty slim but it helped to inform opinions and outlooks. There were occasional hoaxes but nobody worried about fake news back then. After all, reputations still meant something in those days.
There was a real thrill, growing up in a small town, to being mentioned in the newspaper. In my case it was generally about being in the Cub Scouts, or, interestingly, being baptized in a river. (This was a small town.) Ironically I didn’t have a clipping of the baptism story; I found it online. The Franklin News-Herald wasn’t a large circulation broadsheet, but it was paper closest to where the incident took place. Perhaps it struck a locals as odd seeing a bunch of people wading into the river fully clothed, even though it was 1970. It’s an event I remember well. But most of my clippings have flowed away over time, like those sins that were washed downstream that day. I must remember to bookmark that site.