Before we had the ‘Beforetimes,’ we watched baseball — and it was good
Column: A Long Day's Journey into COVID awareness
Last March, Ex-Press staffer Charles Gordon was in Dunedin, Florida when COVID-19 cancelled Spring Training, and forced his family on an angst-filled road trip northward. A year on into the pandemic, we look back at the moment when everything, and everyone, changed.
A memoir from March 21, 2020
By Charles Gordon
We had already decided to come home before the call came officially from our government. For one thing, a prescient friend had announced, on the Tuesday before, that he was leaving: he had a respiratory infection and the Coronavirus could be fatal to him. A bunch of us were at the Florida restaurant where he told us that and we made light of it on the way back to the hotel. “Should I go straight to the hospital?” I asked, to general chuckles, as we got into the car. Still, it made me think. Here I was, an older Canadian, pushing 80, and a long way from a decent health care system.
For another thing, they cancelled ...
Small town news captures life at a granular level: rescued animals, obits
On Journalism: Small Town Newspapers, Touring the Kootenays, Part Two
From the Arrowlakes News to the Lumby Valley Times, small town papers provide the human mortar that builds communities and keep locals connected. And they need your help, writes Rod Mickleburgh.
By Rod Mickleburgh
I’M BACK! Just to recap. I recently spent two weeks travelling through BC’s fascinating West Kootenays, in those halcyon days before the election call and the second wave of COVID-19. As I always do when somewhere else, I sought out local newspapers, just as the New York Times’ brilliant media reporter David Carr used to do. It was sad to see how diminished they were. The good news, however, is that they still exist, still employ reporters and continue to serve their communities.
Let us return to those thrilling times of yester-month and sample a few of the tasty tidbits I gleaned from the region’s remaining newspapers. I hope you like them as much as I did.
What’s for sale at the Lumby ...
Sometimes you have to dig a hole to stay alive
Remembering Orme Payne, Part Two of Two
From the Great Depression and prairie drought, to mano-a-mano combat with the Germans in the waning days of war, Orme Payne's life wove a tapestry of the Twentieth Century.
By Rod Mickleburgh
My friend Orme went through a lot in his final years. But when you’ve been through a Depression and a World War, you learn to take things as they come. During our many conversations, he never complained, never felt he was hard done by, even when he experienced the long months of isolation imposed by COVID-19. “I’m confined to barracks” was his matter-of-fact assessment. Over the phone, he was always cheerful. His yarns and colourful expressions never dried up, aided by a memory that remained intact until the end. And damn, he was funny….
Orme died this past September, his body finally giving up the ghost, after 98 years and five months of a very good life. I miss him terribly.
On Remembrance Day, the first Orme has missed in 75 years, ...
Touring small town journalism and finding the Koots
Journalism: The Decline of Local Newspapers
Big city papers are nowhere to be found in B.C.'s Kootenays, but you can still find a local weekly with birthday announcements, the lost and found, and reader mail damning CBC Radio for just about anything.
By Rod Mickleburgh
The first of two parts. (Be be still your beating heart.)
I spent two rewarding weeks last month travelling the highways and communities of BC’s historic West Kootenays. As I always do when on the road, I looked for local newspapers to give me a sense of what was happening in the places where my squeaky sneakers touched down. At the same time, I still wanted to keep up with events in the rest of the province. Unfortunately, and I’m not sure I should have been surprised, I could not find a single, big-city daily east of the Okanagan. No Sun, no Province, no National Post (yay! oops….), no Globe and Mail.
I could not find a single, big-city daily east of the Okanagan. No Sun, no Province, no National ...
Giller winner conjures ghost of Fitz St. John
History: The Saga of Fitz St. John
Behind Esi Edugyan's Giller Prize-winning novel about the astounding exploits of Barbados-born Washington Black lies the very true story of William Fitzclarence “Fitz” St. John: A Vancouver longshoreman, unionist, and pioneer who -- alongside his Indigenous co-workers -- blazed a trail for equality and fair wages on the docks.
What Elizabeth Warren Needs to Win: A Makeover
The Politics of Fashion
It's a sad sexist reality, but optics and clothes matter more than anyone wants to admit. It's a lesson the TV-conscious Trump and his tummy-tuckers have mastered, and one Elizabeth Warren stands to benefit from the most if she surrenders her shapeless folksy rose upholstery for a sleek, Presidential style.
Frozen memories of Finland warm a chilled soul
Travel: Finding A Sense of Faith in Finland
So far, so bad... The New Year's promise of a fresh start turns sour, forcing an old scribe to seek spiritual sustenance from the past via memories of a visit to Scandinavia.
By Rod Mickleburgh
Well, here we are in yet another decade, And, like much of the previous 10 years, with a few exceptions, so far so bad. As the outside world turns increasingly partisan and dark, I found myself seeking some spiritual sustenance from the past. I fastened on a similar passing of time 30 years ago: the last days of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, a decade which proved pivotal in my life and career in a way I never thought possible. My reflections were likely heightened by the fact that it all took place in the country where my mother was born, Finland.
I was lucky enough to be living in Paris that year, so it had seemed only natural to spend Christmas and New Year’s revisiting my ancestral roots. It was wonderful. Sparkling snow ...
Another Citizen amputates daily editions to survive
Journalism: The Slow Death of Newspapers
The Prince George Citizen goes weekly, prompting a former staffer to remember the days of a $1.49 steak at Mr. Jake’s, the big story of a hotel fire that left him burnt, and the long-gone giddiness of daily newspapering.