Posted on Mon. Jul. 07, 2008 - 08:00 am EDT

Reflections of our readers

Longtime subscribers have seen changes in world, The News-Sentinel

Chelsea Brune

“The only constant in life is change.” It’s a truth that the newspaper industry knows well – The News-Sentinel, especially.

Not many newspapers celebrate a 100-year anniversary, but The News-Sentinel is celebrating its 175th this year. The legacy of this newspaper is one that reaches back into many eras. The News-Sentinel has been fortunate to have loyal readers, some who have subscribed for more than 50 years. To honor our legacy, it’s their stories that we want to share.

The cycle of any newspaper follows a similar process: Reporters write the stories, editors edit them, stories go to print, press operators print the paper, and people deliver it to readers. While the basic process hasn’t changed much, the culture of the paper and the world around it have.

Delivery of The News-Sentinel is much different than it was 50 years ago.

Georgia Freeman, of Leatherwood Run, holds her former newspaper carrier, Robert Gloyd, in high regard. He was “one special delivery guy.” Freeman, who has subscribed since 1957, said everyone in Freeman’s delivery area was confident the newspaper would be in the mailbox when it was supposed to be.

Ruth Mallock, who began subscribing to the Sentinel in 1948, remembers the days when the relationship with a newspaper carrier was “almost like a family affair.” Not only did you know them, they knew you. “They knew where you wanted (your paper) placed,” says Mallock, of Kenwood Drive. “(They) would come in and visit, not like nowadays.” At the time, Mallock said, being a carrier for the newspaper was a very honorable job. A carrier had to be responsible carrying not only the papers, but also money. Having carried for the newspaper was a good job to have on your resume.

Charlotte Eisenhart, who started subscribing in 1948, was reminiscent of a post-war Fort Wayne. After she was stationed in Seattle to help with the war effort, Eisenhart moved back to her hometown of Fort Wayne. When she first returned, streetcars provided much of the transportation downtown, which Eisenhart said is where everything happened. “Everything was downtown. The heart of the city was in about a four-block area.”

She also noted the changes of society then compared to now. The theaters, she said, have really changed. Live shows, such as Bob Hope’s visit to town, were the popular entertainment, unlike the movie theaters of today. Eisenhart mentioned a favorite pastime of her and her friends that she said you couldn’t get away with today. “We would take hot dogs from Coney Island and sit on the steps of the courthouse at midnight after the second trick of work.”

Helene Garmen, of Leo-Cedarville, has subscribed to the paper for more than 60 years. She said her husband and she “enjoy the paper” because it “keeps up with things worldly.” She especially remembered the coverage by the Sentinel of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, as well as the first moonwalk.

While subscribers did recognize some of the major changes in the Sentinel (when it started printing in color), others (the change of publishers, printers and editors) have gone unnoticed.

The Sentinel has undergone different stages of business but has stuck to the basics of newspapers through it all. According to Garmen, “it’s newsy now just like it was then.”

Some things are better left unchanged.

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