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Old Newspapers and Magazines Mark Time, Make Great Keepsakes

Photo by Dave Spencer

Photos in the September 12th issue of the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer of Pfc. Brandon S. Mullins’ graveside service struck me so, that I decided to  A) save the newspaper, and B) write about saving newspapers. My father had always done that. My mother still does. My sister and I have hung on to a few. It seems to be a family trait—an unusual one, maybe, but a trait nonetheless. But as I was locating old newspapers and clips, I noticed something at the bottom of a basket in my mother’s living room. It was a scrapbook—and a game changer. As it turns out, it was a scrapbook full of history. So I altered my plans.

LOCAL FLAVOR FROM OLD NEWSPAPERS
A walk through Owensboro history via the printed page. L-R: the nursing school closure, Owensboro's only five female doctors in spring of 1968, and Miss Teenage Kentucky Debbie Hudson (Photos by Dave Spencer)

In the scrapbook were not only old newspaper articles and photos of old friends and colleagues of my family’s, but also magazines and snapshots. And the whole discovery sort of sent me on a trip back in time. There were several articles from 1968 including one about an Owensboro girl—Debbie Hudson—who was selected to represent Kentucky in the now-defunct Miss Teenage America competition.There was a series of articles from the spring of that year about the female doctors of Owensboro. There were five at the time: Dr. Anne Hopwood, Dr. Ann Hardie Johnson, Dr. Marilyn Sanders, Dr. Sara Parks, and Dr. Joyce Brest. Mom’s a retired nurse, which would explain the saving of these particular stories and the one to follow—an article about the closure of the Owensboro-Daviess County Hospital School of Nursing. This happened in 1969, so I don’t remember it. But, then again, I didn’t remember the school even existed in the first place, either. By the way, Owensboro-Daviess County Hospital is a former name of Owensboro Medical Health System.

RECOUNTING A NATIONAL NIGHTMARE
Photo by Dave Spencer

As I continued to move through the scrapbook—past random memorabilia and photos of old friends and family members—I came upon the front page of the Messenger-Inquirer issue dated April 5, 1968. It was covered with various stories about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which had occurred the day before in Memphis. Now, I was only 2 years old and obviously don’t remember this event. But, upon seeing this piece, I had a funny feeling about it just the same. It’s kind of hard to explain, but whether or not I remember big events like this, the fact that they happened in my lifetime still stops me in my tracks. For example, I was too young to remember watching the moon landing on TV in 1969, but I was told I did. I think that’s cool. Just the fact that, somehow, I was a part of it. And, of course, other globally significant events of history have taken place throughout my lifetime; we just commemorated one on September 11th, for example.

THE DEATH OF AN INTERNATIONAL ICON
Photo by Dave Spencer

Now, newspapers were not the only items saved in this goldmine of scrapbook. I found two magazines that Mom had saved for decidedly different reasons. The first was the September 19th, 1997 issue of “Entertainment Weekly.” The cover story was the death of Princess Diana. And, the second I saw this, I was flooded with memories of that day. Obviously, it was a shock to learn that this beautiful young woman had died. But, I believe the magnitude of her death is why the memory of what I was doing and where I was at the time is so strong. The news came late on Saturday, August 30th of ’97. The official time of death was on Sunday, the 31st, but because of the time difference it was still Saturday here. It was Labor Day weekend and the entire WBKR staff had just wrapped up another Everly Brothers Homecoming Concert—I believe Diamond Rio was the headliner that year. When I had gotten back to the station, I was informed that Princess Diana had been killed in a car accident in Paris. Wow! It was a real shocker. For whatever reasons, there are people you just don’t expect to see in an obituary. At that time, she was one of them. When I got home, I got three phone calls from two friends and my sister. Every conversation began with, “Guess who died.” See, I think that proves right there that her death was such a stunner that others believed she would be the last person someone would come up with were he or she asked that question. The deaths of celebrities aren’t normally global events; hers definitely was.

A LONG-FORGOTTEN PIECE OF PERSONAL HISTORY
How could I forget being published? (Photo by Dave Spencer)

The second magazine I found was the May 28, 1996 issue of Country Weekly magazine. The cover story was titled, “Is Rock Ruining Country Music?” I was kind of amused wondering why my mother felt so strongly about that topic. But then I opened the magazine to a page that had been dog-eared. And there was a picture of me. I had completely forgotten about this. In 1996, the editor of Country Weekly Magazine had contacted me because they ran featured album reviews by country music d.j.’s. And, I guess, my name came up. I had been asked to write a review of an album I greatly admired—it didn’t have to be current. So I had chosen Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “State of the Heart.” I can honestly tell you I don’t remember writing the review, but I do remember being asked. And I remember it being published. And these memories all came to the forefront after finding this scrapbook.

What a journey. It began with an idea sparked by the death of a hometown American hero and led to a trip through time marked by educational discoveries, globally significant benchmarks, and personal triumphs. It’s made for a pretty good week.

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