The Old Coot has a message

By Merlin Lessler —

My daily newspaper has two features I never miss, “Today in History” and “Birthdays.” I usually go through “Today in History” first. There are always some interesting historical events.

Today it included eleven items, but what interests me the most are the events that occurred during my lifetime. Every year, more and more of them fall into that category. In today’s edition, only two of the 11 items took place before I was born, the birth of John Sebastian Bach in 1685, and the day Persia officially changed its name to Iran in 1935.

I was alive for the other nine. It’s a nice trip down memory lane, but a brutal reminder of why I never got the date right on history tests in high school.    

In the “Birthdays” section I first look to find people older than me. Then, for a moment, I’m not the oldest guy in the room.” Sometimes no one is older than me, every single one is younger and that confirms my normal status.

To make it even worse, I’ve never heard of most of the younger people. I face an increasing generational gap that’s getting wider than the Grand Canyon. They say age is just a number. But the Gannett Corporation doesn’t have to throw it in my face every single day.  

A similar disconnect greets me on the comics page. I read every strip when I was a kid. Little by little, my old favorites have disappeared; Little Lulu, Mutt and Jeff, Gasoline Alley, Popeye, Li’l Abner, and the like. Today’s paper had 33 strips, but only 17 that interested me.

Some have been with me for ages, like Dagwood and Blondie. You’re never too old to read the comics. (I call them the Funnies.) Not only are you guaranteed a chuckle or two, but also a good dose of wisdom. And, a little humility, like I get when Earl, of the Pickles comic strip, makes yet another old coot social blunder.

My favorites, besides Pickles, are Zits, Peanuts, Curtis, Shoe, and BC. What’s yours? No answer? Then turn to the Funny Pages every once in a while. It will perk up your day.        

All I can say is, “Support your local newspaper, for the comics, the news and the obits, but more importantly, to sustain the one institution that keeps the government’s foot to the fire. Without them, we become Russia. There is nothing funny about that.”  

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